A silver lining amidst lockdown

Like any student of her age, Megha is attending online classes from June. But with a difference.

The Class VI student in Bengaluru, stuck in Kozhikode after the lockdown from March, has taken to online courses. โ€œNow I have completed three courses – AI basics, Mobile APP development, and Web designing. I was encouraged when my cousins attending such courses asked me to try them,โ€ says Megha.

She says her uncle, a software engineer, introduced her to the topics. โ€œYes, it was initially difficult. So I had to consult and clarify with my cousins. Now I am doing Python and HTML basics. It all depends on interest and aptitude,โ€ says Megha.

Online certificate courses have become hugely popular with school and college students alike. Apart from their curriculum, these courses offered by platforms such as Coursera, a worldwide online learning programme founded by Stanford Universityโ€™s computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, or Google Digital Unlocked or edX, a massive open online course, are helping even young people to cope with emerging learning and job opportunities.

However, many engineering and science students have chosen the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), jointly developed by the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institute of Science. โ€œI have enrolled for mathematical courses to do research in future. I think these courses will help me in project works,โ€ says Abraham Mathew, a second year B.Tech student.

This apart, he says that he had already done a set of courses in deep learning, which is basically an AI function to mimic the workings of the human brain in processing data for use in multiple fields. โ€œCourses in Machine Learning are taught as electives. But learning them is advantageous during internships and in improving career skills,โ€ he says.

Online courses offer students an opportunity to explore new areas of interest which are not available in their regular curriculum. โ€œWe are living in an era in which multidisciplinary learning and research are gaining momentum more than ever before. Quite a lot of milestone achievements have been made possible with the harmonious collaboration of researchers from different disciplines,โ€ says K.A. Abdul Nazeer of the computer science department, who is also chairman, UG admissions, National Institute of Technology- Calicut.

โ€œFor example, elucidation of the human genome and the subsequent developments in bioinformatics and life science domains resulted in many innovative results in the healthcare sector,โ€ he says.

He says gaining multidisciplinary knowledge will help students fine-tune their skillset to solve a real world problem more efficiently and effectively. โ€œMany universities now allow students to credit such online courses, to a certain extent, as electives,โ€ says Prof. Nazeer.

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