IIT-IIM contingency plans amid Covid-19 challenge: Shortening last semesters, interactive online courses

NEW DELHI: Amid the closure of campuses around the country, top educational institutes are preparing contingency plans in the wake of the Covid-19 challenge. They are mulling various options,including shortening last semesters to interactive online courses and modules, to prevent the spilling over of academic works to the next year.

The Union HRD ministry and the University Grants Commission will take a call on changes in the academic calendar for central universities and other state-run institutes over the next few days, ET gathers.

A number of private schools are set to begin new academic session this week, with online classes and modules. The government-run Kendriya Vidyalayas are consulting experts to work out both online and offline formats.

At several IITs, the spring semester is being moved up and a June academic schedule is being chalked out. IIT Delhi director V Ramagopal Rao told ET that the institute was putting together a contingency plan for the same. A shortened last semester may be conducted on campus whenever the lockdown is lifted.

“We are already running online modules for students but a good broadband connectivity is not available everywhere. We will be doing a shortened semester of 2-3 weeks before holding exams. This will happen only sometime after the lockdown ends as it requires considerable preparation on campus. We are working on a protocol for the same. While we can maintain physical distancing in classrooms, there are so many elements involved in hostels and other areas on campus where this will be difficult to ensure,” academic affairs dean at IIT Delhi, Shantanu Chaudhury, told ET. “Even in that scenario, our aim will be to complete our academic work of this calendar year by December,” he said.

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IIT Kanpur director Abhay Karandikar said: “While we have some online study modules, it is not sufficient as the laboratory work cannot happen at all. The sub- committee is examining various proposals.” IIT Kharagpur has preponed its summer vacation and rescheduled its spring-summer semester to June 1.

It is learnt that a meeting of the IIM Coordination Forum is scheduled for April 15 to take stock of the situation.

“IIM directors are planning to share their mutual concerns and see if there is a need to address any of them in a consolidated manner,” IIM Bangalore director G Raghuram said in an emailed response to ET queries. IIMB has postponed its new programme by four weeks and is getting ready for an online module if required.

IIM Ahmedabad director Errol D’Souza said the institute is looking at more’interactive technology solutions . “Our programmes are interactive in nature. So it is difficult to capture that in online classes. We will take a call on moving to online format by May-end . Our assessment, so far, is that we can manage to catch up even if the new academic session is delayed to June-end.”

IIM Calcutta director Anju Seth said: “A delayed start of about two weeks is envisaged in the academic calendar. We are gearing up to move to online courses should that become necessary. At the same time, we are preparing for flexibility if the lockdown eases only gradually.”


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