Varsity to make lectures available at click of a button

A student sitting in Jalgaon may soon have access to some of the best lectures given by teachers/experts in Mumbai or elsewhere at the click of a button, thanks to an initiative on "open courseware" being developed by Mumbai University. With a huge dearth of qualified teachers, the Mumbai University is in the process of developing a project to record lectures in various subjects and make it available on a portal free of cost.

"While the number of institutes are on a steady rise, there is a huge dearth in human resources. Many new subjects are also emerging. But it is very difficult to get good teachers and the problem is more acute in case of certain subjects. Accordingly, we need to use to talent and technology to reach out to the masses, free of cost," said an university official.

"We will record lectures of teachers and industry experts and make them available on a portal which can be accessed by anyone, anytime and anywhere. The lectures would be in audio or audio-cum-video formats. The concept is called open courseware. For instance, MIT has an "OpenCourseWare" initiative, which is a free publication of MIT course material, including lecture notes, exams, and videos of various subjects taught there. We intend to create a separate portal for our project and a link to it will be made on the Mumbai University website. We plan to launch it in four months," the official added.

The university is currently in talks with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), an organisation founded by Commonwealth Heads of Government to encourage development and sharing of open learning/distance education knowledge, to collaborate on this initiative. It is also in discussion with IIT Bombay.

Initially, the university will identify the subjects that have a serious shortage of good teachers. The university will also identify and create a databank of some of the best teachers and experts from the industry. "The lectures will be made available to everyone, hence we will also look at faculty from other universities or colleges in the country and request them to be part of this project. Both COL and IIT Bombay have expertise in open source technology and the talks with both have been positive," the official said.

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