Professors welcome ordinary folks into the knowledge universe

Faculty of top institutes invest valuable time in putting their expertise to use for the greater the good of society

Published - April 18, 2017 05:06 pm IST

IIMB’s flagship programme Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has grown by leaps and bounds in the two years since it was launched.

IIMB’s flagship programme Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has grown by leaps and bounds in the two years since it was launched.

When they are not busy shaping the next generation of business leaders and scientists, or working on their path-breaking research, several professors from the city’s, and the country’s, leading institutes put their expertise to greater social good. From teaching underprivileged children to spreading awareness about ecology, organising public lectures, training teachers and supporting farmers, their professors invest valuable time in making a difference in other people’s lives.

The Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore (IIMB), Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), National Centre for Biological Sciences and others have designed multiple outreach programmes, most of which are led and implemented by top-notch professors of the institutes.

IIMB’s flagship programme Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), operated through the edX platform, has grown by leaps and bounds in the two years since it was launched. It takes management education not just to students and working professionals, but also to small entrepreneurs, including kirana shop-owners. Today, 26 courses are offered and they are availed by 4.8 lakh students from over 190 countries. Courses are offered in marketing, entrepreneurship, accounting, finance, people management, healthcare, among others. “IIM-Bangalore started the MOOCs programme with the aim of enabling learners to access management education from IIMB’s experienced faculty,” said Ramya Srinivasan, Programme Manager, MOOCs.

Beginning with 10% of the faculty, over 25% are now involved in the initiative.

IISc., which has 426 faculty members, hosts an annual Open Day where researchers interact with the general public. Even at other times, most of the faculty is involved in various outreach initiatives, including teaching students on road safety, conducting eco-tours and training science teachers.

At JNCASR, the Education Technology Unit (ETU) has been involved in popularising science. Among other things, it has organised sessions for Kannada medium students.

Just like IISc., NCBS conducts Open Day annually where hundreds of children get to learn about the latest innovations and developments. “School students visit the centre. They are taken to the labs and shown exhibits to spark an interest in science. This has been happening for the past five years,” said Krushnamegh Kunte, Assistant Professor, NCBS.


The Centre for Policy, IIMB

* Runs programmes in rural Karnataka. Led by Professor Gopal Naik, who teaches Economics and Social Sciences, the centre runs a tele-education project to provide satellite-based training to students of Classes 8 to 10 in mathematics, science and English in rural government and aided schools. The project reaches 2 lakh children in 1,000 schools every year.

* Researchers, equipped with tablets containing relevant information on crop production, visit farmers to share reliable and timely information that impacts production and yield. Prof Naik says, “The tablet is connected to a cell in the university for immediate inputs from the field to experts here.” The project has so far benefited 600 farmers in Dharwad district and is expected to reach 40 gram panchayats with support from the government.


* Professor Ashish Verma, Associate Professor, Dept. of Civil Engineering, has been organising road safety awareness programmes under the banner of Transportation Research Group of India. He visits colleges and sensitises students about driving psychology, behaviour and scientific aspects related to road safety.

* Prof. G.K. Ananthasuresh, Mechanical Engineering, runs a lecture series with eminent writers and journalists as speakers. “We have had lectures on books by Anil Anathaswamy and Amrita Shah among others. We continue to organise lectures whenever the opportunity arises,” he says.

* Even teachers benefit from the outreach project. High school teachers get training in teaching science at the Talent Development Centre in IISc.'s Challakere campus. More than 6000 teachers have availed of this facility so far.


* The Education Technology Unit (ETU) conducts summer outreach programme at Himalayan Gram Vikas Samiti in Uttarakhand under the guidance of Prof. Valdiya for students and teachers. Prof. C.N.R. Rao delivers the keynote lecture, followed by a multimedia presentation by Indumati Rao and lectures by other professors. ETU has extended the programme to Laxmeshwar in Karnataka.

* Involved in production and development of CDs related to various disciplines of science and aimed at school children and teachers. The content is developed in regional languages too, said Ms. Rao, Honorary Coordinator Multimedia Group, ETU, JNCASR.


The centre is in the process of setting up a science museum at its premises, which will be open to the public. The museum is expected to showcase the research output of the centre along with general information about plant species, animal species and biodiversity through a combination of photographs, videos and 3D maps. The centre also has a rich collection of insect specimens and tissues, especially butterflies and cicadas. The museum is expected to open in July.

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