Aysha Iqbal Viswamohan whose e-course on contemporary literature is popular with students
Open Culture is an international web portal that acts as a guide to ‘free educational media’ – audio books, videos, free online courses and even rare movies. Among its most popular sections is one titled ‘Free Online Courses’ that lists the best of the Internet’s free e-courses. There, listed between courses from Stanford and other such prestigious names, is Chennai’s very own Aysha Iqbal Viswamohan, whose course is titled ‘Contemporary Literature’. The Associate Professor at IIT Madras, who specialises in Drama and Contemporary Literature, has delivered lectures that are now available on the web in a video format. “This is an initiative of IIT-M and the Ministry of Human Resources Development to take education to far off places where people may not have access to quality inputs,” begins Aysha.
Through her lectures that are available on YouTube as well as NPTEL’s (National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning) portal, she has helped UG as well as PG students appear for exams in the subject. “I worked on this series for about a year,” she says. In all, you can listen to 40 lectures, each about 50 minutes long. This is a project of NPTEL which “provides e-learning through web and video courses in engineering, science and humanities streams.”
Following the success of this course, Aysha is now working on a film studies series. “I get mails and feedback from all over the world, especially after this course was featured on an American website alongside prestigious courses from Stanford,” she beams. Free and online, does not, however, mean ‘anything goes’ and that’s what has made her videos a hit, some of which have garnered as many as 5,000 views. “We have a syllabus and a structure and once we complete a series it is evaluated by experts who even offer their feedback,” she says. Aysha is also well-known in the film academic circles for organising screenwriting workshops at IIT Madras where the likes of Kamal Haasan and Anurag Kashyap explain the nuances of writing for the big screen and more.