Cutting-edge tech enhances learning environment at Manipal Academy of Higher Education

Dr H Vinod Bhat, Vice Chancellor, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) on how the university is providing its students and faculty with a digital atmosphere within the physical confines of the university so that they're able to transcend the walls and explore and collaborate freely with the rest of the world

In India, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) has been a frontrunner in adopting and implementing new technologies in the education sector. The university’s focused tech initiatives have significantly contributed in enhancing the learning environment for students.

As a part of academic delivery, Lecture Capture Solution has been implemented in 58 classrooms across the university. “This cutting-edge end-to-end solution automatically records complete classroom experience. The adaptive and secure videos can be consumed live or on-demand from the web and mobile applications. The platform also enables students and the teacher to learn collaboratively by sharing content,” says Dr H Vinod Bhat, Vice Chancellor, MAHE, adding that enriched with advanced search and analytics, the solution can seamlessly be integrated with any well-known Learning Management System available in the market.

The university has also invested in a high-end Apple MAC lab, animation labs and CAD labs to encourage students to get hands-on with technology. These state-of-the-art labs foster faculty research and start-up culture.

Dr Bhat informs that Manipal, in collaboration with Philips Innovation Campus, Bangalore has created an Artificial Intelligence Lab around an Analytic platform working exclusively in the field of Health Data, linked with a Master’s programme in Big Data Analytics.

“We have over 20,000 students and faculty registered with Coursera for one or more online course/s. Some of these courses are counted as Electives by the respective institutes of the university permitting the students to earn and accumulate credits,” mentions Dr Bhat.

Notable among the innovative project / implementation which has helped in streamlining the processes is the Student Lifecycle Management System, an integrated solution to manage student lifecycle from admission to graduation including digital commerce, self-service portals and apps for students, faculty and parents. Dr Bhat points out that this will be deployed across the three faculties of the university in the next two months thereby improving the speed and quality of student support services significantly.

“We now manage sessional and end semester examinations through Exam Pad – a paperless examination, marking and evaluation system. 80% of all the examinations are administered through this mode, not merely creating an awareness of environmental protection but also aspiring to be a paperless campus over the next few years,” adds Dr Bhat.

The need for personalisation and collaboration is increasing every day and technology therefore will play a major role in the way the future of education pans out. “For now, emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and immersive virtual reality will be key in identifying and disseminating relevant information and bridging the gap between online and offline worlds,” mentions Dr Bhat.

He reminds that AI (Artificial Intelligence) for example, can improve and automate administrative tasks. It can also create personalised learning experiences. “Information is out there but what is important and relevant to the student – how can he/she filter and access what is required? This is where AI will come into play,” he asserts, adding that simulations, gamification and augmented/virtual reality are good to capture the imagination of students and keep them engaged.
Not surprisingly, Dr Bhat believes that data is the new oil and as such analytics will also play an important role, especially when it comes to understanding student behaviour and performance and targeted/remedial learning.

Regarding new technologies / implementations, he shares that MAHE is rolling out an Open Access Policy for research publications to help faculty and students of the university to publish in high quality journals. “We have already tied up with a major multinational publisher, in the process becoming the first University in the country to have such an arrangement,” he says.

MAHE currently in the process of understanding the future of learning and also the needs of new breed of students enrolling to various programs of the university and aligning the future investments accordingly. “MAHE has always prided itself in providing the best possible infrastructure – both in terms of people and technology to help our students in their learning journey. We do not believe in technology for technology’s sake. We want to adopt and implement initiatives that cater to our students’ needs – be it physical or digital infrastructure,” states Dr Bhat.

The aim is to provide our students and faculty with a digital atmosphere within the physical confines of the university so that they’re able to transcend the walls and explore and collaborate freely with the rest of the world. This could mean something as simple as uninterrupted, high-bandwidth of Wi-Fi connectivity to collaboration platforms and innovative learning systems including virtual reality and holograms.

“We are living in very interesting times. Thanks to technology, the world around us is in a constant flux. The lines between a formal education and career is becoming more and more blurred. Many of the jobs that exist today might not even be there tomorrow. We are already witnessing the power of AI to not only take on tasks that once required human intervention, but also improve efficiency within those processes. We even have robotic surgery nowadays. Does that mean robots will replace humans going forward? No. What it means though is that we cannot rest on our laurels. We have to keep learning if we want to stay relevant,” concludes Dr Bhat, affirming that universities like MAHE will be the incubators/catalyst for that transformation.

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