CBSE Plans to Train Teachers for Online Labs

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is pushing its teachers to train for online laboratories, known officially as ‘OLabs’. TOI had reported in 2011 that CBSE is promoting the use of online laboratories for students because it provides a safe environment and 24×7 access.

Students can log on to www.olabs.co.in and conduct almost any experiment online without worrying about accidents happening. ERNET, an autonomous scientific body, is helping CBSE train teachers. ERNET is under the administrative control of department of information technology, Government of India having one of the largest nationwide terrestrial and satellite network with 15 points of presence located at the premier academic and research institutions in major cities of the country. According to ERNET’s website it is serving more than 1,300 institutions in various sectors viz. health, agriculture, higher education, schools and science & technology.

Director (academics, research, training and innovation) Sadhana Parashar wrote to affiliated schools announcing a training programme for teachers in the OLabs initiative. Parashar wrote that to understand these OLabs (Online Labs-Virtual Experiments) a third party “will provide one day training free of cost to teachers of all the CBSE affiliated schools (region wise) in two phases. In the first phase, ERNET will train master trainers (around 1,250) who will give training to other teachers in second phase. Two teachers per school will be trained and a total of 30,000 teachers will be trained”.

The date and venue of training sessions will be declared at a later date after schools confirm their participation.

Students can log on to www.olabs.co.in and conduct almost any experiment online without worrying about accidents happening. ERNET India is an autonomous scientific society under the administrative control of department of information technology, Government of India having one of the largest nationwide terrestrial and satellite network with 15 points of presence located at the premier academic and research institutions in major cities of the country. According to ERNET’s website it is serving more than 1,300 institutions in various sectors, namely, health, agriculture, higher education, schools and science & technology.

This entire OLabs initiative was started in Kerala-based Amrita University and CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi was given a final presentation last year during educational conference. The International Conference of Technology Enhanced Education (ICTEE) was held from January 3-5 at Amritapuri, Kerala and the event showcased a futuristic vision for classrooms. Speaking to TOI during that event, the programme’s coordinator Prof Raghu Raman said that the workshop will be almost like looking into the future. “A few months ago we were discussing with the CBSE chairman on how workshops are currently focusing only on problems. We need to take a peek into the future and see what is out there, say 10 years from now. And it is from this that the idea for ICTEE came about,” he had said.

HRD Ministry Wants NET to be Outsourced

The HRD ministry wants UGC’s prestigious National Eligibility Test (NET) — in the news for wrong reasons ranging from mismanagement to asking sexist questions — for lecturer’s job to be outsourced.

On Wednesday, the UGC would consider the ministry’s proposal in its full commission meeting. Sources said, “The ministry wants a serious review of NET. Every year more and more complaints are coming. Moreover, there is a need to review the entire system and outsource the test to a professional body.” The UGC has already constituted a two-member panel to carry out a comprehensive review of the NET, including formatting of examination and support system.

But what could turn acrimonious in the UGC meeting is Delhi University’s four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) and possibility of it being adopted by other universities from the next academic year. “FYUP is not only about DU. It’s a big policy intervention and cannot be extended to other universities without proper discussion,” one member said.

At least three UGC members told TOI they would ask as to why the Commission did not let members raise the issue in the last meeting but within a few days later appointed a panel to oversee FYUP in DU. What has irked one member is that despite his written request to consider FYUP the minutes of Commission’s meeting did not reflect it.

The member had protested to UGC chairperson Ved Prakash, asking him as to why his request was not placed before the commission. “Is it appropriate?” he asked, adding that in case the UGC decided not to accede to the request should that not been made part of the minutes. He had also asked what purpose setting up of a committee by the UGC would serve.

Another member M M Ansari had also written a letter to Prakash stating that setting up of a committee “tantamounts to interfering in the internal functioning of the university.” He had also said UGC’s action of setting up a committee could be interpreted that in future the Commission without due deliberation can approve the launch of degree/diploma programmes of any duration.

115 More Seats in IIMs up for Grabs

Indian Institutes of Management are expecting an increased number of registrations for the Common Admission Test 2013 (CAT 2013) due to increase in the number of seats. 115 seats have been added taking the total seats across 13 IIMs to 3,335. The organizers are also expecting a bigger participation by women candidates as IIMs have started giving extra point during admissions to women candidates.

From this year, CAT has introduced e-vouchers. However, sale of physical vouchers will also continue. Moreover, four more cities have been added to the list of 36 where CAT 2013 is to be conducted.

After gradual decline in the number of CAT takers for over five years, last year the number of registration increased marginally with a total registration of 2,14,068. Due to increase in number of seats as well as the gradual increase in interest for MBA, IIMs are expecting a 10% increase in registration. “The Indian Institutes of Management is preparing for more students to appear for CAT 2013 as students will have greater chances for admission into the IIMs,” said Rohit Kapoor, CAT 2013 convenor.

Going by the trend and IIMs initiative to give extra points to women candidates, their number is also expected to increase this year. The number of women appearing for CAT has been steadily increasing — from 53,700 in 2010 to 56,000 in 2011. For 2012, more than 60,800 women appeared for the CAT.

The registration window for CAT 2013 would start from August 5. “New to this year’s CAT is the option to purchase vouchers electronically. Details about payment of fees online will be made available on CAT 2013 website www.cat2013.iimidr.ac.in from 5 pm on August 3, 2013. Candidates can also purchase traditional vouchers for registration and scheduling from designated Axis Bank branches from August 5 to September 24,” said Kapoor. The results will be declared on January 14, 2014. Similar to last year’s exam, CAT 2013 will have two sections. The first will focus on quantitative ability and data interpretation and the second on verbal ability and logical reasoning.

These two sections will be implemented sequentially with separate time limits. The examination will be for 140 minutes. Candidates will have 70 minutes to answer 30 questions within each section, which will have an on-screen countdown timer.

IIT-Kharagpur to Hold Global Semesters in Term Breaks

With a director finally at its helm, IIT-Kharagpur is all set to adopt global academic practices. The premier institute plans to have international semesters on the lines of summer and winter semesters at top foreign universities.

The programme will be held during the summer or winter breaks and won’t clash with IIT-Kharagpur’s academic calendar, director Partha Pratim Chakrabarti said. BTech and MTech students may earn credit points from such programmes conducted in collaboration with foreign institutes. The credits will be added to the students’ final scores when they pass out.

The institute has already signed several MoUs with varsities in Japan, Germany, Canada, Russia, Taiwan and Columbia to facilitate collaborative programmes, revealed Chakrabarti’s predecessor Shankar Kumar Som. Holding summer semesters is integral to the grand plan that is expected to fetch handsome funds. Many corporate heavyweights are interested in sponsoring the programme.

“We may be in a position to start the international semester programme from next summer,” said a faculty member. The director prefers to keep the details under wraps. “I can’t divulge the plan before I share it with the faculty members and get it through,” Chakrabarti said.

Chakrabarti, a teacher of computer science, joined office on Saturday after a year-long controversy over his appointment. The new director, however, isn’t shifting his focus from the medical education programme under consideration.

“We hope to start the MBBS course from the 2016-17 session. We have to get affiliation from the Medical Council of India,” Chakrabarti said. The proposal is awaiting Cabinet nod, former director Som revealed.

IIT-Kgp is in talks with Johns Hopkins Hospital in the US, Imperial College in London and with Tata Cancer Research Centre in Kolkata for joint projects.

“My aim is to groom the medical college into an ideal research and innovation-based institute. The intake of doctoral students will gradually go up to 30% from 10% at the moment,” the director said.

The effort will also allow IIT graduates to take up medical engineering.

At the 59th convocation on Saturday, Utsav Banerjee got the President’s gold medal and Mayank Shrivastav the Prime Minister’s gold medal.

IIMs expect 10% Rise in Applicants this Year

Indian Institutes of Management are expecting an increased number of registrations for the Common Admission Test 2013 (CAT 2013) due to an increase in the number of seats. Around 115 seats have been added taking the total seats across 13 IIMs to 3,335.

The organizers also expect a bigger participation by female candidates as IIMs have started giving extra points during admissions to women.

From this year, CAT has introduced e-vouchers, but sale of physical vouchers will also continue. Moreover, four more cities have been added to the list of 36 where CAT 2013 is to be conducted.

After gradual decline in the number of CAT takers for over five years, last year the number of registration increased marginally with a total registration of 2,14,068. Due to increase in number of seats as well as the gradual increase in interest for MBA, IIMs are expecting a 10% increase in registration. “The IIMs are preparing for more students to appear for CAT 2013 as they will have greater chances for admission,” said Rohit Kapoor, CAT 2013 convenor.

Going by the trend and IIMs initiative to give extra points to woman candidates, their number is also expected to increase this year. The number of women appearing for CAT has been steadily increasing-from 53,700 in 2010 to 56,000 in 2011. For 2012, more than 60,800 women appeared for the CAT.

The registration window for CAT 2013 will start from August 5. “New to this year’s CAT is the option to buy vouchers electronically. Details about online payment of fees will be made available on the website, www.cat2013.iimidr.ac.in, from 5 pm on August 3. Candidates can also buy vouchers for registration and scheduling from designated Axis Bank branches from August 5 to September 24,” said Kapoor.

This year CAT is being coordinated by IIM, Indore. The results will be declared on January 14, 2014.

Similar to last year’s exam, CAT 2013 will have two sections. The first will focus on quantitative ability and data interpretation and the second on verbal ability and logical reasoning. The two sections will be implemented sequentially with separate time limits. The examination will be for140 minutes.

‘BITS-Pilani has the right formula for Board results’

Yash Mehrotra scored 191 in JEE (Main) and 92.1% in AP Board. Normalization put paid to his hopes of a seat in an NIT. He’s finally joined a private IT college in Noida. He spoke to TOI. Excerpts:

Were you expecting normalization to end your dreams?

No. The normalization formula came after the Class XII result. Before that we’d thought with my Class XII marks and JEE (Main) score, I’d rank in the 10,000-range. But normalization changed all that.

Will you appear for the exam next year?

No point unless normalization’s removed. This year, students from Andhra Board had no chance of getting a rank within 20,000 without a 97% in class XII. In my school, barely 10 out of 200 students were within 20,000. I’m hugely disappointed.

What changes should be made?

Overemphasis on Class XII could result in neglecting JEE (Main). Normalization shouldn’t be used. Now engineering aspirants will study English or French to score additional marks. Instead, cut-off should be used like BITS, Pilani does.

Courtesy:The Times Of India

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RTE admission rises in Indore, 12,500 students admitted under RTE in third round

Admission rate under the Right to Education (RTE) has improved in the schools of Indore district after the completion of third round, said official sources here. At the end of the third round, admission to nearly 12,500 seats has been given in Indore district.

According to official figures, admission doubled at the end of second round. RTE in-charge AK Bendwal informed that as many as 12,479 seats have been filled by the end of third round and the figure stood at 5,989 at the end of second round. Bendwal said that the total number of seats also increased to about 21,900 and an overall surge was observed.

Around 1,875 schools were covered in rural and urban schools of Indore under the RTE. In the third round, about 6,200 applications were received. However, more than 9,365 seats are still lying vacant. Sources said that by the end of the second round, 31.7% admission was registered.
Notably, senior officials of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and education department had held a review meeting in the last week of June. District education officer (DEO) Sanjay Goyal said that better admission rate in the second round was the result of their review meetings.

He said, “We held many review meetings with officials concerned and delved into the matter. We also held meetings with school principals and even issued notices to a few of them, who were not showing interest in admitting children.” tnn

Goyal further said that the issue of outstanding reimbursement dues to private schools was also taken up during the meetings and schools have been briefed about the online procedure to apply for reimbursement. He adds, “We will try to fill vacant seats as well and it is in our prime agenda.”

The fourth round of admission is also expected but no official date has been announced in this regard. According to official data, admission to 18,219 seats was given against total 38,227 seats in Indore division comprising eight districts by the end of the second round of admission under RTE.

ISRO All Set to Step-Up in Mars

As India prepares to launch its Rs. 450 crore mission to Mars this year, a top space official said the country’s first martian odyssey — that has attracted some criticism — is not just for pride but for undertaking “meaningful research”.

K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), also debunked perception in some quarters that the Mars Orbiter mission around the red planet, that’s just three months away, is primarily a “feel-good” package to just pat ourselves on the back.

“It’s not for pride because the exploration of Mars has its own scientific value and possibly a future habitat which people are talking about…may be 20 years…30 years from now…it’s possible”, he said in an interview, referring to the colonisation angle.

India will be the sixth country to launch a mission to Mars after the U.S., Russia, Europe, Japan and China. ISRO says the primary objectives are to demonstrate India’s technological capability to send a satellite to orbit around Mars and conduct meaningful experiments such as looking for signs of life, take pictures of the red planet and study Martian environment.

“What’s the most interesting question on Mars? Life. So, we talk about Methane…which is of biological origin or geological origin. So, we have a methane sensor plus a thermal infrared spectrometer. These two together should be able to give some information”, said Mr. Radhakrishnan, who is also Secretary in the Department of Space.

Critics of the Indian Mars mission wondered whether the country can afford huge costs for this space voyage. The Mars satellite, which would be launched on board Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL), will carry compact science experiments, totalling a mass of 15 kg. There will be five instruments to study Martian surface, atmosphere and mineralogy.

After leaving earth orbit in November, the spacecraft will cruise in deep space for 10 months using its own propulsion system and will reach Mars (Martian transfer trajectory) in September 2014. The 1350 kg spacecraft subsequently is planned to enter into a 372 km by 80,000 km elliptical orbit around Mars.

“We want to look at environment of Mars for various elements like Deuterium-Hydrogen ratio. We also want to look at other constituents — neutral constituents”, Mr. Radhakrishnan said.

“There are several things which Mars will tells us, this is what the scientific community thinks about the life on Mars”, he said, adding that scientists started taking interest on Mars from the 18th century onwards. “Our (Mars mission) experiments are planned in such a way that you can decide when you want to put on each of these systems”, Mr. Radhakrishnan said.

“If we succeed (in the mission), it positions India into group of countries who will have the ability to look at Mars. In future, certainly, there will be synergy between various countries in such exploration. That’s taking place. That time India will be a country to be counted”, he said.

We can all be leaders, University of Pennsylvania Professor says

Leadership education — how far can it be taught? We all have innate leadership abilities and a capacity to lead. Through structured processes we can all enhance our level of leadership. This is part of leadership education that makes work in this area so personally rewarding. Students are seeing how they can make their best contribution in the world. To be effective, leaders must first know themselves. How do books or leadership programmes teach this? Each of us has some level of ability in leadership. What we can teach is how to enhance this capacity to lead, and the capacity to help others lead. Author Warren Bennis notes that selfknowledge is the first step in understanding. A great start to self-knowledge is to know three things: our core values, our strengths and the way we can work most effectively (e.g., how we engage with information and make decisions, whether we do our best work on a team or as a solo contributor ). This is where we begin in leadership education. These days there is more emphasis on leadership development at the undergraduate education level? Why so, given the fact that only a handful, in the world, makes it to leadership positions? The wonderful thing is that we can all lead at whatever level we are in the organisation, with whatever title we have and age that we are. We don’t need the title ‘leader’ or ‘CEO’ in order to exercise leadership. One definition of leadership according to Stephen Covey is ‘knowing what to do and doing it.’

I like to think that part of leadership is finding out where we can make our most effective contribution to the world. In these senses, we can all be leaders, some traditional and some less traditional, according to individual style. You recently conducted a workshop for class XII students titled ‘decisionmaking, persuasion and influence.’ What was the workshop feedback? The students were bright, involved and excited to learn about a subject that spanned the disciplines of management science, applied mathematics and game theory, social psychology , political science and behavioural economics. It was an entirely interdisciplinary session that used experiential learning as a means of accessing the intellectual material. How can students maximise their leadership potential? Please share a few important pointers. General advice: Know yourself and find out where you can make your most effective contribution to the planet. It is that sense of ‘detecting our mission’ that was noted by the psychoanalyst and author Viktor Frankl. Effectively using power is another important trait.

With regard to career: find the career that combines your competence, with passion and meaning. If your work doesn’t have meaning, it will be difficult to maintain your contributions over time.