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Ajeenkya DY Patil University bets big on Competency Based Transcript System

In the wake of increasing implementation of IT solutions in the education sector, Ajeenkya DY Patil University has set a benchmark in India’s education space with its unique Competency-based Transcript System. The university is also studying the blockchain technology for future implementation

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Technology has ensured democratisation of knowledge. As one of the largest universities in the country, the Ajeenkya DY Patil University (ADYPU) is increasingly focusing on technology-intensive, innovative education. The university is embracing the twin engines of globalisation – technology and innovation. Technology is its key for enabling infrastructure besides the buildings and facilities. Annually, ADYPU spends approimately ` 5 crore on IT, including the subscriptions, software licenses and hardware addition. Year-on-year the university increases the allocation.

Role of IT
ADYPU’s academics, through its standards based curriculum and student centred pedagogy, is managed by its own ERP system, which integrates and automates all the academic and non-academic services/resources of the university in one single interface. It is a vital link between the university, students and parents, wherein students are able to access data connected to their performance in real time.

Academic services include credit registration for all programs, students’ records, all academic session plans and students’ academic performance. Students are not limited to a set of courses within their own specialisation. They have the freedom to choose courses across the nine schools of study. Students here receive credits in multiple ways. They attend semesters at partner institutions and they learn through MOOCs guided and evaluated by ADYPU’s faculty. This way, their world of learning is not limited to what’s provided from the ADYPU platform or what is ordained for them. They discern, they choose, and they learn what appeals to them in accordance with their career goals. All of these can be tracked and managed by the ERP, making it a blend of both management of academics as well as academic performance.

Speaking on what’s perhaps the most unique IT initiatives by the university, Ajeenkya Patil, Chairman, Ajeenkya DY Patil Group (ADYPG), shares, “We are ushering in the most important shift concerning student credentials. The practice everywhere is to issue a transcript at the end of a semester and then a degree at the end of the program. The transcript is a basic form of communicating the achievement of students reflected in terms of courses studied and grades obtained. The present day transcript does not clearly reflect the knowledge and skills acquired by a student during the course of study. What is truly needed by a student is a document that signifies the learnings of the subject matter, the evidences of the work done through the years and the competencies achieved across courses. I’m happy to share that ADYPU has pioneered a unique competency-based transcript combined with an electronic portfolio which documents the journey of a student right from the first year to graduation.”

Besides the traditional transcript with a listing of courses attended by a student along with the grades, the university will issue a competency transcript for each semester, which will document the skills attained by a student. This will be supported by a link to an electronic portfolio of a student which would contain the evidences of the work done by the student and the faculty assessment remarks on the same. This link is shared with companies before the recruitment drives, to help them make informed hiring decisions. This also gives the student an informed perspective, guiding them to make sound career decisions.

“ADYPU is one of the pioneers in India to have adopted the Scale-Up Classroom, which stands for ‘Student-Centered Active Learning Environment with Upside-down Pedagogies’. It is a structural and pedagogical approach to deliver technology driven learning, currently being used by over 250 universities across the US and Europe. The approach has been instrumental in increasing student participation and engagement,” informs Patil.

ADYPU also manages its online or blended learning programmes through video conferencing and collaboration tools wherein students can attend classes online with any device in real-time through weblinks provided by the faculty, or they can access their stored audio/ video data whenever they want, using any device and from any place in the world – provided they have basic connectivity. They can be in multiple locations, and yet be together in a virtual classroom, interacting and engaging with each other, where all the features of a traditional classroom are not just replicated, but also enhanced and magnified. The same setup enables the university to organise lectures by global experts.

“Having realised a need for a seamless tool that amalgamates all media and different platforms, we searched for an effective team communication and collaboration tool. We also wished to reduce the heavy reliance on WhatsApp kind of tools for messaging and reduce the email workloads of the modern workplace. Having diligently looked through diverse options, we selected the tool Flock to ensure real-time communication and monitoring of activities, apart from helping to create channels to organise all resources of a project within one workspace,” he says.

With collaborative features like one-to-one and group chats, file sharing, audio and video calling, and third-party productivity apps integration, Flock has made tracking the progress of activities easier and communication between teams and team members effective. This cloud based platform helps the academic and non-academic staff, along with the management and other key stakeholders communicate seamlessly for collaborative activities apart from assisting in tracking progress and productivity of tasks and ensuring seamless communication without its typical barriers.

Patil is particularly proud of the Competency Based Transcript System and the e-portfolio.

He comments, “To me, this is our academic innovation which has a few parallels globally. In our competency based transcript, we have built in the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for a particular domain. We hope this will give all stakeholders a measure of the effort that has gone into developing talent. It will benefit all key stakeholders – the student, the industry and the university. For the student, he is able to see where he is vis-à-vis what is required in the industry; for the university, it is a measure of its academic rigour resulting in employability; and for companies, it is the best talent matched with their job description.”

While, the academic transcript showcases the knowledge aspect, the ePortfolio showcases or displays visually, the skills aspect, and the PRI captures the behavioural/attitudinal aspect, together making it a tool that will eventually revolutionalise how companies hire talent from campuses. The e-portfolio is a compilation of the evidence of what the student has done through the years of the course of study and provides a vital insight into the student’s abilities which a traditional transcript is unable to demonstrate.

This combination of competency based matrix and e-portfolio of student work, Patil feels, is one of ADYPU’s most ambitious projects which is expected to have a profound impact in years to come

Tech of the future
Analytics pertaining to learning and academics, according to Patil, is the next big thing to happen in the education domain. It will significantly impact how education is imparted and received. It will help personalise the delivery of education and make it more meaningful. Analytics will help improve student advising and recommendations and improve adaptive learning. While presently some of it is being used in delivery of online learning, it is starting to make its presence felt in classroom learning as well.

Commenting on what ADYPU has planned for the future in terms of technology implementation, Patil adds, “We are betting heavily on our university’s unique competency based matrix and digital portfolio. We are driving significant financial investment and manual effort to make it happen. The effort is on to use artificial intelligence to connect employer job description with the student capabilities, thus reducing the gap between expectations and delivery. It is a new area of exploration and there are many variables, which we are trying to address one at a time. Success in this endeavour will not only benefit students within ADYPU, it might also become a benchmark. Furthermore, we are currently in the evaluation phase for blockchain; we expect to expect to implement blockchain within the next two years.”

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