We Are Moving Towards A Concept Called Virtual Universities: Dr S S Mantha, Chairman, AICTE

He highlighted the importance of hybrid and blended learning, at least for the upcoming one semester as COVID is here to stay.

Dr S S Mantha, Chairman of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) shared his insights on the status of education in the time of COVID. He feels that education has definitely been disrupted, specially higher education. He highlighted the importance of hybrid and blended learning, at least for the upcoming one semester as COVID is here to stay. There can be a debate on the percentage of online and offline teaching, but Dr Mantha believes in dividing the system into 70-30 percentage, where 70% of teaching would be face to face, while the rest would take place virtually. A lot of social distancing methods need to be practiced within the labs and some of the batches may even be divided into two halves. “We are moving towards a concept called virtual universities”, he added.  

As Dr Mantha is specialized in Robotics, he also threw light on Industry 4.0. He further said, “If you design a machine which functions as a human being, then you’re basically building an automated device which can be programmed and re-programmed”. The future will be full of such automated modes and devices. In the Industry 4.0 scenario, machines can talk to machines and hence, low-skilled jobs will vanish in the times to come due to the rise of AI and Robotics. “This concept also needs labour 4.0, to complement industry 4.0”, Dr Mantha added. When asked about the superiority of e-learning over traditional learning, he underlined that everything in applied science cannot be virtual. As engineering is all applied science, Dr Mantha highlighted the importance of going back to the lab and research centres for the same. 

Dr Mantha was further express his views on effective evaluation methods and how do regulators need to change how they evaluate. “Continuous assessment must become a part of the evaluation system”, he emphasised. Continuous assessment must be appropriately created and evaluated because that is the best way to evaluate a student. He also defined the basics of credits. As the recent learning processes are online, the same must be applied to the virtual mode of teaching as well. “The mode is different, but the competency-based skills are the same”, Dr Mantha stated as he concluded.   

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