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Varsities making gradual shift to online mode

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It is not only regular classes in higher educational institutions that have gone the online way. Viva-voce, an integral part of internal assessment, PhD open defence and even semester examinations are being conducted online due to the peculiar situation arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic.While many universities made the transition a few weeks ago, a few are still engaged in the groundwork to convert their evaluation into virtual mode. Interestingly, the PhD open defence conducted recently by APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University (KTU) witnessed the participation of a senior academic from a leading university in Canada as the doctoral defence was carried out in online mode.

“The quality of the doctoral defence was raised to a new level with the participation of an international expert which could not have been possible in the traditional way. Besides, the scholar got an invitation for post-doctoral research from a top university in Canada thanks to the participation of a faculty from that varsity, said Vrinda V Nair, dean (Research), KTU.

Recently, the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) took a step further and conducted final semester exams of various post-graduate programmes in online mode. The inability of students, most of them from outside the state, to reach the exam centres during the lockdown period prompted the varsity to take the bold step. Many universities are now considering adopting the online mode for examinations as well.

“Besides conducting viva-voce for LLB programmes and scheduling open defence for PhD, we are also planning to conduct the LLM exam in the online mode,” Sunny K C, Vice-Chancellor of National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS) told TNIE.

Note of caution
However, senior academics advise caution on going gung-ho over the new online fad. According to Rajan Gurukkal, vice-chairperson of Kerala State Higher Education Council, online mode of evaluation cannot be a substitute to real unless there are adequate tools for examiners to check malpractices. “The differences between virtual and real evaluations are not just confined to the medium and environment. There are differences in the tools used for assessing the learning outcomes as well as the methods of evaluation. The parameters set for evaluating performance in real cannot be the same for evaluation in online mode,” he stressed.

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