National Institute of Technical Teacher Training and Research (NITTTR) Chandigarh, is pioneering teacher education through various ICT enabled initiatives like NCTEL, in addition to the regular on-campus programs. In this Skill Story, Dr. M. P. Poonia, Director, NITTTR, Chandigarh, puts forth his vision for making teaching aspirational and improving the quality of teaching, exposure to industry and facilitating world-class research in India.
Empowering technical teachers with knowledge and skills
We have four NITTTR in different regions– Chandigarh, Bhopal, Kolkata and Chennai – for imparting training to technical teachers and facilitating research. We train them in pedagogical approaches and developing curricular content to appreciate new developments in the discipline. Our main objective is to improve the quality of teaching and instill confidence among the faculty members.
We offer several long-term and short-term education and training programs and our research focuses on instructional planning and delivery, course contents, the evaluation process, the examination system and so on. We have pioneered the concept of e-content as we are well-equipped studio. We produce several videos and these are shared on YouTube through NCTEL Channel and telecast on Gyan Darshan Channel.
Through our extension services we help the society, government, regional board of technical education or AICTE, MHRD, or wherever our expertise is needed. Since 2009, when skill development became a major area of government attention, we started contributing to vocational education as well. Although, initially we catered to the polytechnics, after we broadened our agenda in 2003, we are responsible for all the teacher education needs for all the technical institutions in the northern region of India. We are able to impact 25000 teachers every year and several hundreds benefit from our ICT enabled programs.
Strengthening the industry- academia connect
Getting all the teachers trained in the industry is a daunting task. However, we are trying to have MoUs with different industries in various sectors like IT or manufacturing to collaborate with the industry. For example, during a 2-week program, teachers get industrial exposure for 2 days and this enhances their scope for R&D. We also invite industry experts and IIT professors so to educate the teachers about the needs and requirements of the industry and prospects for advanced studies and research.
Manufacturing contributes just 16 percent to India’s GDP, compared to a 56.5 percent contribution by services. Technical teachers play a critical role in correcting this imbalance through quality teaching and commitment to the profession.
For our two-year M.Tec program, it is mandatory that every student goes to the industry for their practical project and thesis. They work according to the industry needs, and take up the industry problems. This is essential; otherwise, industry will lose faith in us, what we do will be limited to our laboratories. Last three years, we have taken many projects from the industry and the good thing is the industry absorbs the most of the students.
For example, we take projects from the construction industry. When we tied up with the Kolkata based Simplex infrastructure, we studied their needs. We analyzed problems with regard to construction material, quality of work, productivity or workers, equipment, methods, advanced or alternative materials, electrification of the buildings –we solve their problems through research and share our solutions with them and they implement our solutions.
International skill development center
This is our endeavor to align with the Government of India’s mission to skill 400 million by 2020. Let’s assume, we’ve achieved our skill development targets, are we capable of providing jobs to every student whom we have skilled? The same demand has to be created on the job front; otherwise, there will be imbalance in the society. The objective of international skill development center is to train the students for global employment. The students should be able to go anywhere in the world and compete with others. The international center is mainly related to infrastructure development, software development and alternative energy. We will train the mentors and they in turn will train the students. We are aligning with the top universities of the world who can share their expertise and resources in designing and delivering skill development programs.
Technology enabled teaching for technical teachers
NCTEL is our ICT enabled platform that enhances the reach of quality training content to widen our impact. In the nine states in the northern region there are around 5000 polytechnic and engineering colleges an in a year, we can train around 4500 teachers. This means, on an average less than one teacher per institute. So the challenge was to connect more teachers with our experience and expertise.
First, we started with videoconference and conducted 400 video based programs per year. It was indeed a difficult task to connect considering the technology constraints from the other end. Then we explored low cost, low bandwidth connectivity tools like Google Hangouts. All they need is a laptop and an LCD projector. As a result, at a given time, 500 to 600 hundred teachers participate in the interactive program. And the same lecture is shared on YouTube Channel. More than 1000 videos are uploaded so far. That’s how the instructional videos become our e-content repository.
In the first two years we have more than 100000 lakh student teachers! And the analytics show us that more than 40% of the viewers are from outside India. Thus we are establishing a global presence through our e-content. Another mentionable collaboration is with the government of Uttar Pradesh (UP). The state has more than 1000 institutes, and the students come from rural background so they need instruction in Hindi for subjects like Electronics, Mathematics, and Chemical Engineering. We’ve taken up seven subjects and made more than 400 videos in Hindi. In 60 hours, we’ve covered the entire curriculum for each subject by taking help from expert teachers. The videos are available on UP technology portal.
We follow a 30 point program at NITTTR as a commitment to social and environmental causes. In all our training programs we include a component on environment. As a policy we are a paperless institute. And this year our target is to fulfill 25% of our energy requirements through solar energy.