Having access to quality engineering study material is no longer the prerogative of the elite.

An average student studying in a not-so-reputed engineering college in a remote corner of the country will soon get the study material his/her counterpart in a premier engineering institution has access to.

Picture this: Ashita Zain, a B.Tech. Mechanical Engineering student in the State, is sitting in front of a large screen with a web camera turned towards her and a microphone ready to pick up her words.

She has been listening attentively to a lecture on fluid dynamics. With her are her teacher and a few friends. All of them have been engrossed in the lecture.

It is a lecture they never listened to before. The very method of instruction is different – because the lecturer belongs to one of the elite engineering institutions in the country.

Zain and her friends have been attending a course offered by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B).

Courses available

It has been part of a series of courses made available to thousands of engineering students by the IIT-B as part of instilling quality engineering education in the country.

IIT-B has made available its courses to the engineering student community across the country through its Centre for Distance Engineering Education Programme (CDEEP).

IIT-B says the objective is to offer courses taught by its expert teachers to a large number of participants across the country. It aims to create a quality learning environment, providing facility for live interaction between the participants and the faculty.

It will also provide a cost-effective and scalable solution for the participating centres and students in the programme, while using technology to ensure that the dynamics of the content delivery matches the learning needs.

Interactive terminals

IIT-B started telecasting its courses to the 50-odd student interactive terminals (SITs) from January 2 using Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)’s educational satellite Edusat.

Kannan Moudgalya, professor in charge of the programme, says that thousands of engineering students across the country stand to benefit from the IIT-B lessons.

Twelve courses are currently being offered in the four-month schedule ending in April 2008.

The courses, intended for engineering students and faculty as well as for working professionals, offer four modes of participation, each with a different fee and certification structure.

Live classroom

IIT-B offers live classroom as a basic free service to all participants if the engineering colleges have their own reception centres.

The participants can interact with the IIT faculty in this mode, but recording of lectures is not permitted.

Extended live classroom is an enlarged classroom mode, where the lectures can be received live, participants can interact with the IIT faculty during the lectures, and the lectures can be recorded and reused for internal purposes.

A complete set of CDs of the course will be made available at the end of the courses free of charge.

All students enrolled for this course at IIT-B’s remote centre will be eligible to take part in the Learning Management System (LMS) for the course.

The remote centre will get a certificate of participation.

This mode will cost a remote centre Rs.50,000 per course. IIT-B will refund Rs.20,000 towards the operation expenses.

Thus the net cost will be Rs.30,000 per course for a remote centre.

Offline classroom

Offline classroom is another mode offering pre-recorded courses.

Its features include a complete set of CDs to be seen by the student offline. IIT-B says that the colleges should have one hour of live interaction a week to answer the doubts arising out of the three-hour lectures seen that week.

This mode offers a regular schedule to see three-hour equivalent of the lectures every week.

All students enrolled for this course at IIT-B’s remote centres will be eligible to take part in the Learning Management System (LMS) for this course.

The remote centre will get a certificate of participation.

This mode will cost Rs.30,000 per course for a remote centre.

IIT-B will refund Rs.10,000 towards the operational expenses. Thus the net cost will be Rs.20,000 per course.

Fee charged

IIT-B says it will charge a fee for value addition as per request from individual participant.

The participant will get a certificate from IIT-B after successfully fulfilling requirements for requested value addition.

For details, one can contact IIT-B at cdeep@iitb.ac.in.

The courses offered currently are in soil mechanics II, instrumentation and process control, signals and systems, adaptive signal processing, object oriented systems, sheet metal engineering.

It is also offering courses in computation fluid dynamics and ht, wavelets, IT project management, fibre optic communications, information systems and software engineering.

Solo classroom

Solo classroom or Live Webcast is the fourth mode that enables students to participate in IIT-B’s courses as individuals.

The students are expected to go through the course through webcast or Video On Demand (VOD) through DTH.

This mode will allow students to take part in the Learning Management System (LMS) for the course.

Individual students will get certificates of participation.

A student will have to pay Rs. 1,000 for a course in this mode. Apart from the pay mode, Live Webcast courses offer free mode also, where no registration is required.

In the pay mode, students will have to register by paying Rs. 1,000 per course, which will provide them access to the discussion forum of the class, news group, downloads, online chat, assignments etc.

The schedule for the webcast courses will be available at http://www.cdeep.iitb.ac.in.

Anybody can access the webcasts free but for value-added services, one has to register.

Live lectures are streamed to the users - so they cannot be downloaded.

They can be accessed later with Video On Demand (VOD) service, which is available for registered participants only.

The courses offered through webcast include electrical machines analysis and control, power electronics, nano-electronics, artificial intelligence and Introduction to biochemical engineering.

Other courses

Besides, IIT-B offers the following offline courses also: power electronics, advanced strength of materials, artificial intelligence, structural analysis ii, broadband networks, transmission lines and electromagnetic, information theory and coding.

It is also offering courses in physics, engineering mechanics, introduction to chemical engineering, mathematics, fluid mechanics, soil mechanics, software engineering, robotics, control communication, digital communication, and design and analysis of algorithms.

IIT-B has made available series of courses as part of instilling quality engineering education