There are revolutionary changes taking place in the paradigm of teaching-learning process brought out by the availability of new methodologies/technologies for knowledge sharing, and the new context and pressures of increase in and variety of the student population, not to talk of the gradual globalization of the education process itself. Under these circumstances it is essential for the teaching fraternity to hone their existing skills, develop new skills, and learn the nuances of the art, philosophy and science of teaching so that the teaching-learning process becomes more enjoyable, creative and productive, for both the teachers and students. There is need to connect three vital elements of education viz. faculty, student and the process for evolving right mix of solutions among the variety of approaches which significantly vary in different ambience.
A significant change required in this regard cannot happen by chance and hence a focused effort is needed from committed faculty and the administration.
To facilitate much needed change in the teaching-leaning related activities for improving the quality of education, an office formally charged with coordinating and directing all major activities viz. pedagogy, content and effective instruction has become necessary in our institute. The success of several faculty development programmes (FDPs) conducted in our institute since 2009 convincingly demonstrated not only an enthusiasm/awareness among the young faculty but also the well felt need to foster a dedicated effort to cater the challenges of retaining learning abilities of the information intensive generation.
Faculty development is a continuing effort to transform engineering education at any institution. Collaborations often strengthen faculty development initiatives. In this regard, faculty members at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM), India, and the Institute for Engineering Education and Innovation (IEEI) at Texas A&M University, USA, join hands for a collaboration in 2009, which resulted in the development of a Teaching Learning Centre (TLC) to establish sustainable activities for faculty development in IIT Madras. Professor Ajit Kumar Kolar (ME) and Professor Pramod S Mehta (ME) had initiated discussions with Dr Chandrika Rajagopal from Texas A&M and take things forward with the strong support from the then Director, Professor M. S. Ananth.
The TLC emerged from the realization that continuing efforts for improvement in teaching will enhance the efficiency of course delivery and raise interest and motivation levels of the students in understanding engineering and science subjects. A core group of 10-12 faculty members from among the participants of the two faculty development programmes (FDP) on Teaching-Learning offered by the Texas A&M team has voluntarily continued their interest and efforts to implement the new ideas and felt that there is a need for such an activity in more regular and rigorous fashion with the following vision and mission.
As concrete results of the collaboration, six Faculty Development Programs (FDPs), of three days duration each and a one- week faculty interaction program, the first of their kind at IITM, were conducted for IITM faculty members from Dec 2009 to Dec 2014, initially by a team of experts from the Center for Teaching Excellence, Texas A & M University, and later by a joint team of Texas A&M and IITM faculty members. After due familiarization with the novel ideas on course delivery, taught and discussed during these programs, some of the IITM Faculty members developed a framework of course delivery cycle and implemented it in their classes. The core team conducts FDPs for faculty from other engineering colleges placed in and around Chennai.
In addition to the collaboration from Texas A&M University, TLC also collaborates with experts from Wipro Technologies, Bangalore, India. In this connection, the MoU signed between IIT Madras and Wipro Technologies assists TLC in carrying out several FDPs and TA training programs with the help of experts from Wipro Technologies.
It was observed that twenty percent of the FDP participants (from IIT M) methodically incorporated the pedagogical aspects in their teaching practices. Experiences of the faculty in terms of the three principal thrusts of the FDP: (i) constructing learning outcomes, (ii) adopting active and cooperative learning methods and (iii) implementing formative plus summative assessment strategies are analyzed to model the pedagogical elements appropriate to the IITM ethos, characterized by a large student population of diverse socio-economic-cultural background. Also, issues related to varying set of methodical instructions to a diverse group of students are identified and possible solutions are discussed for further action to sustain the TLC activities for the benefit of the teaching-learning process in IITM.
TLC continues its constant efforts in alerting the faculty about the need for quality teaching/learning process. We thank our current Director, Professor Bhaskar Ramamurthi, for his generous support to all TLC activities. We uphold the below sentence from the national education policy of India, “No Nation Can Raise above the Level of its Teachers!”
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