Tomorrow, the University of Calicut will launch webcast of educational content and live lectures and demonstrations

The University of Calicut is set to touch a milestone in reaching out to the masses with educational content. On Tuesday, the university will launch the webcast of educational content and live lectures and demonstrations aimed at enhancing access to knowledge for lakhs of students in regular and private streams.

The university will be the first in the State to do so. The Educational Multimedia Research Centre (EMMRC) on the university campus — the only one in Kerala — has chalked out detailed plans for the webcast. Vice-Chancellor M. Abdul Salam says the webcast will add another feather in the cap of academic innovation in the university.

Twenty-two such centres function across the country with the funding of the University Grants Commission (UGC). The Calicut University centre decided to launch the webcast to expand its activities. The centre, whose work is coordinated by the Consortium for Educational Communication (CEC), a nodal agency responsible for the educational content of the UGC, has been engaged in producing e-content for education since 1998.

e-lectures

“At first, we are going to use the e-lectures and other educational programmes available in our repertoire,” Damodar Prasad D., Director of EMMRC, says.

Mr. Prasad says the EMMRC will implement the webcast project in a phased manner. In the first phase, educational e-content will be beamed through the Internet for a few hours from 10 a.m. “We have plans to make it a round-the-clock programme in the next phase,” he says. Additional funds will have to be pumped in if the programme to do so.

When the EMMRC will take care of the technical side of the project, the teachers of university departments and affiliated colleges will be roped in for the generation of content. University authorities say they will take the services of other experts also. “We have plans to make use of experts in all fields available,” Mr. Prasad says.

Arrangements are being made to webcast lectures, seminars and workshops live on the Internet. “Many experts visit this campus quite frequently as part of the academic programmes. We are going to harness their expertise in such a way as to benefit thousands of students at a time… and in future as well,” Mr. Prasad says.

Rajbir Singh, CEC Director, will be the chief guest at the inaugural function of the webcast. Dr. Salam will launch the programme. The function will see an interaction with the principals of all colleges under the university for strengthening the programme.

The inaugural live webcast will be a lecture by the cyber security expert Ameer Pichan, senior consultant at the School of Electrical Engineering and Computing, Curtin University of Technology, Australia. Dr. Pichan from Malappuram has earned international fame by heading the Department of Safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, and is a known information security adviser.

University authorities say Dr. Pichan will deliver his cyber security lectures at regular intervals. The university has roped in several international and national experts for the purpose. N. Muhammadali, Director of the College Development Council, is playing a key role in bringing the principals and faculty from colleges to the EMMRC studio. “We have quite a large number of good teachers on our college campuses whose knowledge can be captured and disseminated in such a way as to benefit a vast number of students,” Dr. Muhammadali says.

Although the webcast will be accessible to anyone from anywhere, the content will be structured for the curricular requirements of the students. “The thousands of private students using the distance education mode will be benefited greatly by this project,” Dr. Muhammadali says.

Schedule

The centre will draw monthly schedules for the webcast. “We will upload the schedule on our website monthly,” Mr. Prasad says. Using the webcast, the university is planning to offer coaching for various examinations, including the UGC National Eligibility Test (NET) and the Civil Services Examination.

In the later phase, the programme will introduce “video-on-demand” content, Mr. Prasad says. The centre will provide lectures and discussions to the demand of the students. “It will depend on the number of requests we get from the students,” he says. The students will get a chance to interact with the speaker through the Internet in the later stages of the project. “We are aiming at making this project an interactive one where the students and teachers can interact live.”

Channel

The centre is planning to launch a Web channel for the university. “It will be yet another path-breaking achievement for this university if we can do it in 2014 itself,” a senior official says. Mr. Prasad says the launch of the Web channel is planned within a year in the third phase of the project.

The channel will have educational news broadcast, university programmes, weekly round-up, and so on, he says. The centre is planning to launch massive online open courses (MOCC), for which the University Syndicate has already given its nod.

The open programmes will require the permission of the CEC, about which Mr. Prasad is hopeful.