Learning The Digital Way: Introduction Of SWAYAM Courses
If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.
This quote by renowned inventor and architect R. Buckminster Fuller clearly describes the digital learning landscape of present times. SWAYAM (Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds) is a programme initiated by the Government of India and designed to achieve the three cardinal principles of Education Policy viz., access, equity and quality. The objective of this effort is to take the best teaching-learning resources to all, including the most disadvantaged. SWAYAM seeks to bridge the digital divide for students who have hitherto remained untouched by the digital revolution and have not been able to join the mainstream of the knowledge economy.
This is done through a platform that facilitates hosting of all the courses, taught in classrooms from Class 9 till post-graduation to be accessed by anyone, anywhere at any time. All the courses are interactive, prepared by the best teachers in the country and are available, free of cost to any learner. More than 1,000 specially chosen faculty and teachers from across the country have participated in preparing these courses.
The courses hosted on SWAYAM are in 4 quadrants – (1) video lecture, (2) specially prepared reading material that can be downloaded/printed (3) self-assessment tests through tests and quizzes and (4) an online discussion forum for clearing the doubts. Steps have been taken to enrich the learning experience by using audio-video and multi-media and state of the art pedagogy/technology.
Recently, the students of NIT Rourkela were allowed to take SWAYAM courses in place of the elective theory subjects allowed by the Institute. Now, a student of NIT Rourkela can see the list of all SWAYAM courses that he can take in the NITRIS portal.
Team Monday Morning had a brief chat with Dean (Academics) Prof Saroj Kumar Patel regarding the newly introduced SWAYAM courses. The following is the excerpt.
Monday Morning (MM): What is the purpose of introducing this new system of SWAYAM courses?
Prof. Saroj Kumar Patel (SKP): The SWAYAM courses provide freedom to the students. It's like a student exchange programme. He/She studies in another university and claims credit equivalence in our institute. This is quite beneficial for our students.
MM: What would be the benefits for a student for choosing a SWAYAM course over an Institute course?
Prof. SKP: The students of NIT Rourkela get one more option to complete their courses. Many electives were not offered earlier in the Institute.
Now one can take up electives of his choice and interest and can read from the best teachers of the country.
MM: What are the eligibility criteria for a student to apply for SWAYAM courses? When can a student apply for the SWAYAM courses? Can any year student start taking these courses?
Prof. SKP: There is no specific eligibility. Any student of any year can enrol in the SWAYAM courses. Earlier only students with CGPA > 8 were allowed to take extra load, but no such restriction is placed for SWAYAM courses.
Students can enrol in the SWAYAM courses according to their time constraints. But one should plan which SWAYAM course one should do and when otherwise it's of no use.
MM: Could you explain the courses of the Institute that the students see on their portals? Why are students seeing courses from different Departments on their portals?
Prof. SKP: If a department is allowing for other department students to enrol in the subject, then the students can see courses from different Departments on their portal. If any SWAYAM courses have not been listed in the NITRIS portal, students should request their HODs to add the subjects anytime.
One should always remember that the SWAYAM courses can substitute only elective theory courses and no core courses. That's important.
MM: Will the SWAYAM courses be allowed for the core courses in the future days?
Prof. SKP: No, there is no plan for SWAYAM courses to be allowed for the core courses in the future days.
MM: Is there a limit to the number of SWAYAM courses that a student can take overall and per semester?
Prof. SKP: Maximum up to 20 per cent of the total credits can be taken up by a student in his/her studentship period. There is no limit per semester.
MM: How would the curriculum be modified taking consideration of students opting for SWAYAM courses in a particular semester?
Prof. SKP: There is no change required in changing the curriculum. As earlier said, students can enrol in the SWAYAM courses according to their time constraints.
MM: When do students have to complete their equivalent SWAYAM course and show the certificates for it to be considered in place of a course from the institute? Is it before the semester registration or anytime during the semester?
Prof. SKP: Students need to submit the result of equivalent SWAYAM course anytime before the end of the end sem examination of the course for which he/she has done the SWAYAM course.
Remember the SWAYAM course is purely optional. No compulsion at all. One can complete his/her degree without doing a single SWAYAM course.
MM: Are there any chances of the examination dates for SWAYAM courses clashing with the Institute’s examinations?
Prof. SKP: There may be a chance. The students should check the course and examination end dates in the SWAYAM portal and match it with Institute examination dates if they wish to avoid any clash of dates.
Team Monday Morning hopes that the introduction of SWAYAM courses for the students of NIT Rourkela ushers the new era of digital learning. We hope that this step is beneficial for the students of NIT Rourkela in the long run of time.