An e-tool that helps make every student equally good
By Papri Sri Raman Aug 6, 2006, 5:21 GMT
Chennai, Aug 6 (IANS) An online learning system that assesses a student's answers and gives the result within 10 minutes and also helps the student overcome any deficiency in knowledge - this revolutionary e-learning tool could soon be used across India and could help bridge the growing gap between skills availability and requirement.
The adaptive assessment and e-learning tool called LearnITy, which is keyed to global standards, has been developed by a team of researchers at Kolkata's Jadavpur University in collaboration with an American university.
This advanced learning engine was demonstrated at the Vision 2007 Technology of the Future exhibition at IIT Madras early this month. As many as 21 of India's centres of excellence, both academic and research, are already using this e-tool.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is using it to support the project assessment of EDUSAT, India's satellite exclusively for education.
Sun Microsystems and IBM too have begun using it.
Through LearnITy the student answers the questions online and gets to know within 10 minutes if he has achieved the level of knowledge required. If he fails, he can take the assistance of LearnITy to improve and take the test in two weeks or two months, whenever he feels he or she is ready.
More than 100 students of the Jadavpur University Centre for Mobile Computing this year were assessed by LearnITy this year. They got their examination results in 10 minutes after being assessed.
The tool could be used in a state like Tamil Nadu, where 79,000 students graduate from more than 260-odd engineering colleges every year, but only about 30 percent of them are directly employable.
'There is very little difference in the standard of students graduating from US universities like Stanford, Havard, MIT,' says Sourav Chakraborty, the man who lead the team to develop LearnITy.
'All of those who have graduated from these three US centres of excellence have more or less the same level of knowledge,' Chakraborty told IANS. But this is not the case in India.
An engineer from a Tirunelveli college in Tamil Nadu may have a very different level of knowledge and skill than an engineer from a Coimbatore engineering college.
Concerned at the increasing gap between the skills requirement and availability in the country, Confederation of Indian Industry president R. Seshasayee said in Madurai recently that there would be a shortfall of five million skilled workers over the next five years in Tamil Nadu alone.
The major sectors unable to find workers would be construction (one million), leather (500,000), textiles (500,000), light engineering (500,000), IT (300,000), ITES (350,000) and automobiles and components (550,000).
Theoretically, every student graduating from an engineering college should be up to the mark that the industry requires.
But that is not the case because standards in different universities vary and grading depends upon individual teachers even in higher institutions of learning.
'Add to that the acute shortage of teachers at India's engineering colleges,' says Chakraborty, executive director of Aunwesha Knowledge Technologies Private Limited, a venture capital company the government of West Bengal has now set up to commercially make LearnITy available across the country.
Today the general perception of e-learning is a method of content sharing with the help of technology. But, an e-learning tool is not just that.
LearnITy can 'manage courses, manage content and deliver online assessment', Chakraborty said, speaking at the IIT Madras here. 'It is an intelligent tutoring system, compliant with international standards.'
Chakraborty now wants to put LearnITy to use for high school assessment across the country, so that 'the future of millions of students in India every year are not at the mercy of good teachers, bad teachers, lost answer sheets and the difference of 0.1 mark which can make the difference between admission to a good college and a bad college.'
LearnITy sits inside an interactive server, has a notes tool, a library of content and books can be used to give the answers. The system even provides content sensitive hints.
It has an online 'learner tracking' system which tells each student and supervisors what progress each student is making in a specific subject.
It then guides the individual student through a 'qualifier' - a selective learning process to help achieve the required knowledge level in a particular course.
The LearnITy assessor is Java and can be used on any platform like Windows or Linux or Solaris. It is multilingual too and highly scalable. 'No teacher has to goad the student to do better in one paper or the other.'
© 2006 Indo-Asian News Service