Saturday, March 30, 2019

Avenues of Skill Development

Towards a New Goal

Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life. think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea.This is the way to success.--Swami Vivekananda

The job market is ever changing and in today's changed economic scenario, traditional works are making way to new avenues. Herein lies the importance of nurturing new ideas and dreams to march forward in the job market. The new generation must be inspired to march forward in their journey ahead and such was the message of Mr. Pradip Chopra, The Chairman of iLead Media and Management Institute, in a discussion involving the school students organized by the college in Kolkata recently. If the young generation can follow the right path and utilize their potentiality to improve their skills, then they will not have to suffer from the problem of shrinking job market.

Professors of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology (MAKAUT), West Bengal Dr. Sibamoy Dasgupta and Dr. Prasanta Narayan Dutta were present at the discussion and mentioned of different Professional, Vocational and Certification courses of the University. These can help the students in their strive towards sharpening their skills for entering the job market. Prof. Dasgupta and Prof. Dutta stressed in the discussion in front of the school students that these courses with new orientation can enhance their employability within a short time. Prof.Dasgupta mentioned that the vocational courses have been recognized by the UGC as degree courses. the students can also do post-graduate studies and research in these areas.

Prof. Dr. Sibamoy Dasgupta in the discussion at iLead
Once the young generation become confident of their potentiality, they will realize that, they may no longer be job seekers and wait for an indefinite period to get a call for interview. Instead they can initiate their own start-ups and become employers. In this way small start-ups can give a big boost to the entire industrial scenario of West Bengal and MAKAUT wants to be a part of such change by providing a helpful guideline to the students. 

iLead Chairman Mr. Pradip Chopra talking with the school students
Mr. Chopra gave an account of his own experience before the school students as to he started from a small beginning a few decades ago to become one of the leading entrepreneurs of the state now. He shared his own experience as to how he developed the habit of reading books, which helped him in his journey to be a successful entrepreneur and educationist. He also advised the students to enrich themselves by observing different educational videos online. Mr. Chopra drew the example of Hon'able Vice-Chancellor of MAKAUT Prof. Dr. Saikat Maitra, who himself is still fond of learning from such videos, despite his busy schedule. 

Prof. Prasanta Narayan Dutta interacting with the school students in the programme organized by iLead.

Prof. Prasanta Narayan Dutta highlighted the importance of various Certification Courses of the University towards preparing the students for their entry into the job market. In his words,''After completing 10+2 courses, a student may also choose such courses of three to six months duration, instead of undergraduate programme of three years. Only the students have to know about the opportunities of different courses." Prof. Dutta pointed out that the students themselves can start their own initiatives and create job potentiality after doing many such certification courses.

Mr. Chopra has correctly pointed out that, unless the students are able to enhance their potentiality for employment and create job for themselves, it will be difficult for them to survive with a very few traditional jobs surviving in today's competitive world.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

A New Trend in Courses : Workshop at Kalimpong

Courses to meet the demands of students

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology (MAKAUT), West Bengal is always dedicated to the benefit of the students and that is the reason behind its preference for a new academic ecosystem. MAKAUT has designed different courses according to the need of the age and to help the students improve their employability.

Recently the Hon'able Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Dr. Saikat Maitra came to Kalimpong to organize a workshop about such professional courses of the University. The objective was to increase the awareness about these courses among the school students, their guardians and concerned college authorities of North Bengal, especially Kalimpong. 

The Hon'able Vice-Chancellor Prof. Maitra and college representatives in Kalimpong's workshop. 
He came with the MAKAUT family at the Rockvale Management College, Kalimpong and urged different institutes to introduce the new professional courses for the benefit of the students. The Finance Officer of the University Dr. Atri Bhowmik, Chairman of iLead Mr. Pradip Chopra, Director of NSHM Dr. Krishnendu Sarkar, Director of IMS Dr. Tapash Ranjan Sarkar were present. Dr. Arindam Ray was present on behalf of Techno India Group and Priyanka Chatterjee on the behalf of Budge Budge Institute of Technology (BBIT). The Director of Rockvale Management College, Kalimpong Capt. Prakash Mani Pradhan arranged a press conference with the MAKAUT family. The Hon'able Vice-Chancellor of MAKAUT Prof. Saikat Maitra said at the press conference that the interested students and guardians of Kalimpong must be informed about the various professional and other courses of the University. In his words, "The University is relentless in its efforts towards motivating its students towards entrepreneurship and improving their skills for employment." Those present at the workshop were very much inspired by the speech delivered by Prof. Maitra.

Prof. Maitra and other members of the MAKAUT family being greeted at Kalimpong's Rockvale Management College.
The MAKAUT team also talked to teachers, students, their guardians at the workshop. Actually the University wants to send a message at all corners of the society that the need of the hour is to improve the potentiality for employment of the students and inspire them towards entrepreneurship, start-ups and innovations. The MAKAUT family went to Kalimpong with this objective in view.

Prof. Maitra mentioned a number of courses which are much useful for improving the students' employability in today's competitive world. For example, courses like Business Management, Media Science, Designing Technology, Hotel and Hospitality Management, Real Estate Management, Bio-technology can be appropriate for the students in improving their career graph. Such courses have already been initiated in different affiliated colleges of MAKAUT. In Kalimpong, Rockvale is the only college, which is about to start many new professional courses.

The key note of the workshop was that, time has come to bring about a change in the teaching-learning process and MAKAUT wants to lead the students in this changed scenario. That is why the University is working for a new academic ecosystem. MAKAUT is even designing online courses, which students, businessmen and research personnel, so that they can learn from home, by taking advantage of digitization.

Another focused area of the University is to organize different types of competitions to capture innovative minds and motivate them for higher education and research.

The MAKAUT family with almost 200 affiliated colleges is aspiring towards all round development of West Bengal, so that no corner is left behind. That  is why it is focusing on Kalimpong and also North Bengal as a whole.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

EKTA Incubation Centre’s effort to re-vitalize the MSME sector

Small Industry—Towards A big leap forward

Small business is the backbone of any economy, because it is the area where jobs are generated. But in order to be successful, small and tiny entrepreneurs have to overcome teething problems and march forward. At this point the role of a Technology Business Incubator (TBI) becomes relevant. The EKTA Incubation Centre of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology (MAKAUT), West Bengal is an effort in this direction. EKTA is a TBI under the aegis of MAKAUT and is continuously helping the small and tiny entrepreneurs in their journey, so that they can take a big leap forward from the local to pan-Indian and global market.

With this aim in view, MAKAUT and EKTA Incubation Centre had arranged a MSME Cluster Development Program on the 14th of March 2019 at its Salt Lake Campus. It was supported by Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) under the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology.  

The traditional dining plates made of sal leaves, handicrafts based on jute, wooden sculptures, all are the specialties of West Bengal’s artisans. What they need is a helping hand to boost their output, profitability and efficiency to capture a wider share of the market. In order to create such opportunity, the EKTA Incubation Centre had arranged for direct interaction of representatives of small industry with the TIFAC team who came to the Salt Lake Campus of the University for the workshop.

The representatives from various small industries came from different districts of West Bengal, like Bankura, Bishnupur, Kolkata and so on and brought samples of their extraordinary pieces of handicrafts and other products. After interacting with the TIFAC officials, they suggested different ways to rejuvinate their small initiatives by making proper use of new techniques of production. EKTA along with TIFAC has promised to co-operate with them hand in hand. Some entrepreneurs and their respective clusters with greater potentiality have already been selected and EKTA wants to concentrate on their development along with TIFAC. 

TIFAC representative in the workshop
TIFAC and small industry representatives in the workshop at
MAKAUT's Salt Lake campus
Prof. Sukhendu Samajdar interacting with the industry
representatives. He is explaining to the dining
plate makers from sal leaves about the types of
such leaves in the workshop

The Hon'able Vice-Chancellor of the University Prof. Saikat Maitra has advised for all round development of such clusters from the outset.
The Director of EKTA Incubation Centre Prof. Sukhendu Samajdar has rightly observed, very few entrepreneurs from the world will be able to compete with these small and tiny organizations from West Bengal. At this juncture, the need is to provide them a platform to market their products before the world. Once that is possible, they will not have to look behind. Prof. Samajdar stressed that EKTA is committed to help them in this direction. He said, "This will not only help to change West Bengal's industrial scenario, but also give us a chance to salute these individuals, who are clinging to such traditional industries, in their struggle for existence." 

Droplets of water build an ocean. Similarly small industry clusters can give a big boost to the state's entrepreneurial activities and change its image of an industrially backward state. MAKAUT and EKTA want to be active partners in this journey and hopes to be successful in this objective.


Monday, March 25, 2019

New Academic Ecosystem

Professor Maitra at SIT

Overhauling the Education System

“The engineer is the key figure in the material progress of the world. It is his engineering that makes a reality of the potential value of science by translating scientific knowledge into tools, resources, energy and labour to bring them into the service of man. To make contributions of this kind, the engineer requires the imagination to visualize the needs of society and to appreciate what is possible as well as the technological and broad social age understanding to bring his vision to reality.” 

This vision by a renowned British academician, Sir Eric Ashby, as early as in 1958 upholds in a nutshell the role of an engineer in the society. However, very often it is observed that an engineer lacks consciousness about the society and such an individual,with only bookish knowledge ultimately is of no use to mankind.

In fact this is the reason why Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology (MAKAUT), West Bengal is pitching for a new academic ecosystem with regard to technical education. Such was the tune echoed by the Hon'able Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Dr. Saikat Maitra in the discussion at the Siliguri Institute of Technology. He was addressing a workshop on the New Academic Ecosystem at the institute, which is the nodal centre for Zone-I colleges of the University. The Director of  this Techno India Group Institute, Prof. J Jhampati delivered the welcome address to the workshop. The other participating institutes were Jalpaiguri Government Engineering College, Gani Khan Choudhury Institute of Engineering and Technology, Kalimpong's Rockville Engineering College, Siliguri Inspiria Knowledge Campus, IMPS School of Management, Siliguri etc. About 115 delegates present at the workshop were very much overwhelmed by the inspiring speech delivered by Prof. Maitra.

Prof. Maitra with other dignitaries at the SIT Workshop

The key note of Prof. Maitra's  address was that the entire technical education system must be overhauled in alignment with the demand of industry and society. The overall development of the students is the prime objective of every educational institute. The opportunities created for them must not be limited within the bounds of the curriculum because society needs professionals who can work efficiently in a team, has analytical efficiency and leadership quality. Above all they must have the will to innovate and so creative work. In all such activities their companion must be digital aids. Digitization is not only inevitable but also the supreme tool to success in any field that will nurture the new ecosystem. Automation, digitization and the domain of analytics must be combined with improvement in the field of academics,  such that the students can excel. Herein comes the role of the teachers to guide them and inculcate ethical values among them. In future the role of virtual reality cannot be ignored by any individual and naturally engineers and management professionals will be no exception.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Digital Pedagogy


The Hon'able Vice-Chancellor in a discussion on DigitalPedagogy
at the Salt Lake Campus on 13.03.2019.  

"Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire."- William Butler Yeats

The famous Irish poet and Nobel Laureate William Butler Yeats had made this comment in the past century. But his vision has become more relevant in the context of today's digital world. The application of digital methods is bringing about a sea-change contemporary teaching-learning techniques. If we turn a deaf ear to the call of such technology, then we will be the loser.
This use of contemporary digital methods as effective teaching-learning techniques is termed Digital Pedagogy. The importance of such techniques was highlighted by the Hon'able Vice-Chancellor of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology (MAKAUT), West Bengal Professor Dr. Saikat Maitra in a discussion on Digital Pedagogy. Dr. Maitra mentioned that, there are certain broad outlines as to how these techniques can be used in the teaching-learning process. He, however, has rightly pointed out that, it is the teachers, who can apply their innovative mindset to implement it properly. How best these techniques can be used for the benefit of the students, depend on the teachers, who must adapt to the new mode of teaching over time. At the same time, Digital Pedagogy is not only using digital technology for teachers. It is an approach to augment the entire teaching-learning process.

MAKAUT is well aware of the digital revolution and want to take active part in this evolution of teaching-learning process. This is a both way relationship, necessary for the survival of the students, as well as the teachers themselves. If they do not embrace these new techniques, they will not be able to improve their efficiency and ultimately will have to give way to those well-equipped with modern learning methods. MAKAUT's objective is to assist both students as well as faculties in improving their digital efficiency. Dr. Maitra said, "We are planning to embrace all Digital Pedagogy to enrich our teaching process. We are adopting Massive Open Online Courses ( MOOCs) ahead of other Universities. Also there is a system of credit transfer, where if within 160 credit B.Tech courses, the student is unable to undertake physical curriculum, they can do MOOCs from different learning platforms."

In many cases, students have to pay, in order to get  certificate from MOOCs. But if the student has any financial problem, he/she can be assessed by MAKAUT, from that course, in that platform and can be given certificate. Dr. Maitra emphasized, "More certificate means more employability. the purpose is to make students take these courses and enrich them. MAKAUT encourages the students to take online courses as much as possible." He further stressed that MAKAUT shall audit which students and faculties are taking the courses. He mentioned that, faculties must also take the online courses, so that it can be assessed, which faculty will be able to guide which students. Online courses are definitely parts of Digital Pedagogy.

Digital Pedagogy also includes simple and now commonly used tools like e-mail communications with the students, but one must not think that to be the only means to it. MAKAUT also has the objective to build its own repository/portal of lectures , which will be accessible to users all over the world.         

Specific Advantages of Digitization:
  • Explosion of Data
  • Right now internet penetration in India is 90%, whereas in rest of these world it is 19%.
  • Exponential advances in computation, storage and bandwidth. Computation eases a lot of complicated scientific calculations and facilitates storage of data. Increase of bandwidth now provides internet even to remote areas.
  • Ubiquity of access, facilitated especially by mobile devices. About 45-50 crores of Indian population is now using smart phones and getting the advantage of such access. It will be 90 crores in the near future.

The Hon'able Vice Chancellor in the same discussion

  • Multimodal Pedagogy
  • Linguistic(Verbal skill): Language is the key to the teaching-learning process. It is equally important in the digital mode also.
  • Visual: Any visually stimulating presentation has more impact among the students
  • Audio: A video should be accompanied with audio so that it is easily understandable.
  • Gestural criteria: Whatever we want to convey must reach the subconscious mind of the students. Unless it penetrates the subconscious mind it will not leave any permanent effect.
  • Tactile: Touch is another aspect that will boost up cosmic bonding of the students with the teacher. Students will feel comfortable and not alienated. 
  • Spatial: A teacher must know how to visualize each and every dimension of a subject and convey that very message to the students. 
Participatory Culture in Digital Pedagogy
  1. Exploitation of digital medium let people express their thoughts easily and with more clarity. 
  2. Sharing Resources: Digital Pedagogy helps in sharing of resources between teachers and students through the electronic media.
  3. Informal mentorship by most experienced teachers for novices is facilitated by Digital Pedagogy. 
  4. When uploading content we must ensure credibility and quality of it. 

Digital Pedagogy is also useful in delivering Power Point Presentations(PPT), Massive Open Online Courses(MOOCs), blogging assignments, getting students to use digital tools to test their ideas, promoting active learning with smart board, participation in group assignments, integrating technology to visualize 3D structures. 

In fact MOOCs will democratize the education system and revolutionize the way of delivering education. Many companies are also uploading their MOOCs to help the students, for example, Microsoft, Cisco etc developed their own MOOCs by professionals.

MAKAUT is reducing the course burdens of the students by utilizing MOOCs. If a student can earn 20 credit points from MOOCs he/she will achieve Btech with honours. MAKAUT plans to introduce premium honours if a student gets further 10 points from MOOCs. That means if a student has a knack for digital learning, the University will always encourage him/her. Digital Pedagogy will this pave the way for flexible education system with enjoyable courses because similar framework may not be effective for each and every individual. As the pave of leaning can be adjusted, one may not follow a definite syllabus. Instruction can be differentiated depending on the intellectual perspective of the students. 

In future 3D mode of presentation will happen. Now it is applied to entertainment and in the next stage it will enter the teaching-learning system. 3D printing can  be used as a pedagogy option. It is becoming cost effective and can revolutionize the classroom. Smart classrooms can be linked to 3D printing mode to create a three dimensional object under computer control. 

We can refer Web 2.0 in this context. It is a dynamic and interactive webpage that emphasizes user-generated content, which is easy to use. It inculcated participatory culture and is compatible with other products, systems and devices for students. A web 2.0 website allows users to interact and collaborate with each other through social media dialogue also. This in turn creates user generated content in a virtual community. This is in contrast to the first generation of web 1.0 websites where only viewing of content was possible in passive manner. Examples of web 2.0 are social networking sites or social media sites like facebook, blogs etc. 

Gamification:  Digital Pedagogy is very effective in problem solving techniques. One such technique is Gamification. It allows users to apply game theory and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems. It leverages the motivation and desires that exist in all of us for community development, feedback, achievement and so on. This game based learning can make education more engaging and relevant to modern students. It can motivate students to apply their theoretical knowledge during their job training in future. 

Webinars:  This is process of web based seminars or presentations or delivering lectures by using video conferencing software. It saves time and reduces the cost of travelling. 

The Constraints for Implementation of Digital Pedagogy

Firstly, the teachers are afraid of using the technology successfully. Secondly, the teachers fear that they will look like an idiot in front of the students and fail the deliver the intended message properly. Thirdly, the teachers apprehend that the student  may be knowing more about the technology themselves and hence mock them.  Fourthly, the students are also apprehensive. They complain that Wi-Fi is not always available. Sometime problems occur in downloading study materials and lack of high capacity batteries hamper the continuity of usage of mobiles, laptops etc. 

Thus Dr Maitra, the hon'able Vice Chancellor has appealed to the teachers and students to get rid of their fears and embrace digitalization. He has asked the teachers to post some of their lectures online so that they can reach out to all corners of the world. In future MAKAUT hopes to develop it's own online courses that will be available worldwide.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Digital Inspection: A New Era

College Inspection- A New Era

Inspection of affiliating colleges is a tedious and time consuming job for any affiliating university. In India only government institutions are entrusted with this responsibility. In this respect, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology (MAKAUT), West Bengal has initiated a new age of Digital Inspection of its affiliating colleges, which is perhaps the first of its kind in the country. About 200 colleges can now be inspected digitally through video conferencing.

The Vice Chancellor Initiating Digital Inspection of a College
Interaction with Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Institute of Management Science, Bhavan
MAKAUT entered into this new era on the 7th of March 2019, as the hon’able Vice-Chancellor Prof. Dr  Saikat Maitra inaugurated the system from its Salt Lake campus. He and MAKAUT’s Inspector of colleges Dr. Swapan Kumar Maity talked directly with the Principal Prof. Dr. Ramkrishna Patra of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Institute of Management Science, Bhavan. They also talked with the students and gathered first hand information from them about their studies and research projects. Prof. Maitra asked the Principal to show-case different start-up initiatives by the students of the institute and prepare a video of such projects.
Dr. Maity is also of the opinion that the colleges can be looked after in a better way in this new mode of inspection. They can be more effectively monitored in this mechanism. All India Council For Technical Education(AICTE) has also appreciated this initiative of MAKAUT. MAKAUT looks forward to more such regular interactions with different colleges. As a result of this digital interaction inspection of colleges will be easier and faster.