An Unknown Indian

Thoughts of a FOSS enthusiast

The way a college should be….

Posted by Balachandran on March 15, 2007

Disclaimer: The comments, ideas and suggestions that follow are only my plans to help my( or any) college reach higher and higher. They are not meant to criticise or make fun ofanybody/anything.

Hello folks. After some thought of what education really is and that being literate does not mean being educated. And just obtaining a B.E degree does not make one an engineer, I have decided to propose a few basic suggestions and ideas for the improvement in quality for the good of both the students and the society and everything. For that we begin by analyzing how the colleges function to day and then the syllabus and stuff and then how they must be….

For this, people should realize that they are far past the twentieth century when ignorance was a bliss. But it is not so anymore. In this competitive world where your closest friend could be your enemy when it comes to survival, we need to change or at least we should look at the issues differently. Some 20-30 years back, your were a great hero if you had a masters degree of any sort. But now even a Ph.D doesn’t earn the same respect. In the field of computers, even ten years back, if you know how to boot into a system. you were called a geek, but now, you will be called so only if you have written a couple of OS kernels and programmed considerably in assembly.

Now, a peek at the present system. What we do even in great colleges is this, learn a few lessons from the text book, write a set of assignments that involve no creativity, submit a big bunch of tutorials and then finally write up the semester exams, often most people do that by cramming the entire syllabus into their heads just the previous night. But do we really learn something? It is a question that needs an answer pretty soon, before it gets too late. Also, are we really engineers are just B.E. graduates? This is more serious although not urgent. When we sit down and answer these questions true to our conscience(if we have any, for only people without that will get in to something as this type of education), we will understand that we have not done either, very sadly.

The reason is not the college or the staff handling the subjects… it is the system that must be changed. The quality of education is very bad in most part of the country. The syllabus that has been prescribed to us is nearly as old as myself. Imagine the plight when we learn something as old as 8085 processors in microprocessors in detail for over three units and about the pentium 4 for about half a unit and nothing at all about dual core or the duo stuff. If this is the case, where in this earth will the student get to know the latest trends??? True that the student must take his/her own efforts to know that. but then what for is the syllabus framed? Perfectly true that the student must learn the history of the thing and how all that evolved.. but to learn only that without talking much what is existing presently is a crime against one self…

Now we shall see how all this can be changed. First of all, we must know that gaining knowledge is aim and not scoring great grades. Only then we will be ready to take on tougher subjects and syllabus. We must have a practical syllabus rather than a highly theoritical syllabus. Again, we must be learning the latest trends in the market and not those that had been there for over 25 yr. Say if we read something about OS, we must do so with example from good OSes like the linux or the Solaris. It is not enough if we simply learn the theory behind mutexes and semaphores.. Again, there must be some purpose in writing the assignments. Simply writing a part of the syllabus by copying it from the book is of no use. We are supposed to become engineers and not stenographers. When we learn a new technology, we must be provided a chance to apply it somewhere in the real-time. Say, if we have a paper on software engg, the student must know the latest lifecycle model and the latest trends in analysis, design and testing. The student must be allowed to take projects for each phase of the s/w development process so taht he understands everything clearly.

The use of innovative teaching methods will also help. Like, say, teaching with the assistance of sample code for a subject like system software will help the student understand better than just imagining how that part of code will work. Likewise, if we learn networks and the OSI layers, it must be taught with their implementation. I still do not know how TCP or IP is implemented in real time 😦 (I am trying to learn that now) and not much are aware about network communication as well. Our college will become at par with other colleges like IITs and IISc only if we try to adopt (atleast some of) these changes. Hope we do so as soon as possible….

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