National Programme for Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) brings in India’s best professors under an umbrella platform and provides their lectures accessible to the students across various colleges in the country.
IIIT Bangalore is proud that some of its faculty members are offering courses in this great cause of enlightening the country. Few of the faculty who are involved are Prof. Meenakshi D’Souza, Prof. Madhav Rao and Prof. Ashish Choudhury.
NPTEL is hosted on the Swayam portal, is an initiative by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India. Courses on this platform are hosted by one of the seven IITs (Bombay, Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras, Guwahati and Roorkee) and the Indian Institute of Science. It is one of the largest online repository providing self-paced online short term courses in Engineering, Basic and Social Sciences and selected humanities areas. The reach of the NPTEL courses is the largest in the country, with learners being certified by the respective institutions. Learners from literally from all over the country, includes the working professionals, homemakers, and students, enroll for NPTEL courses. The courses are offered for free but the learners have to pay a small fee to take the final exam for certification.
Prof. Meenakshi who is offering a Software Testing course, says, “I was introduced to the NPTEL platform through one of the faculty members from IIT Madras in 2016. I decided to teach Software Testing course, a popular and job-oriented course at the institute as well. The reach of the course is now far and wide, across the country. Over these six years, more than 56,000 learners have enrolled in the course with more than 15,000 learners certified.”
Prof. Madhav Rao has been teaching an NPTEL course on “Design and Analysis of VLSI Subsystem” for the second consecutive time. The course was developed and designed at IIIT-Bangalore and covers important topics in the VLSI domain and is aimed towards making the students meet the industry requirements. The course starts with fundamental topics on Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (CMOS) and progresses through advance topics such as Static-Timing-Analysis, and Datapath subsystems. “The course is uniquely structured as a self-sufficient one with a minimal pre-requisite of Digital Design, and Electrical circuits. NPTEL allows the delivery of course contents to a maximum number of interested students. In the last two years, approximately 7000 students have enrolled for this course, and have benefited from the same,” says, Prof. Madhav Rao.
Prof. Ashish has been running 4 courses on NPTEL of which one course is on Discrete Mathematics and other three are related to cryptography. Discrete Mathematics is so relevant as it is one of the fundamental courses for Computer Science and is taught as a core course in any undergraduate degree programme in Computer Science and Engineering. Discrete mathematics is the study of mathematical structures that are discrete in the sense that they assume only distinct, separate values, rather than a range of values.
His first course on cryptography is titled Foundations of Cryptography. The course provides the basic paradigm and principles of modern cryptography. The focus of this course is on the definitions and constructions of various cryptographic objects.
The next two courses on cryptography are titled Secure Computation: Part I and Secure Computation: Part II. These two courses discuss how using various cryptographic primitives, one can do computation on distributed and sensitive data, also known as secure multi-party computation (MPC), which arguably is one of the most fundamental problems in cryptography as well as distributed computing.
Offering courses on NPTEL has been useful for the teaching professors too. Prof. Meenakshi, says, “The reach of the course is to an extent that students identify me through the NPTEL course! Students have met me in places such as Tirupattur, Chennai, Madurai (Tamil Nadu), Tumkur (Karnataka), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Jaipur (Rajasthan) and Bhubaneswar (Odisha), saying that they have taken my course!” Based on the success of the NPTEL course, she has been able to host summer interns sponsored by NPTEL in the institute, they are the toppers from the course. She is also offering a course on Software Testing as a part of the B. Sc. (Online Degree) on Programming and Data Science offered by IITM.
Great Move by MHRD
Even though Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) were available for a long time, COVID has indeed taught us its significance. “The goal of the NPTEL project is to create web and video courses in all major branches of engineering and physical sciences at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels and management courses at the postgraduate level. It is indeed a great initiative by the government to provide quality video lectures from top experts in the country in almost every area of science and engineering. Moreover, unlike some of the other MOOCs, the contents are freely available (the participants have to pay a nominal fee for proctored examination and certificatw). These courses and course contents can easily complement the traditional classroom lectures and material and act as a great reference for the students,” says, Prof. Ashish Choudhury.