AITM Seminars >> 4th Public Seminar: “Is e-learning changing the landscape of higher education” by Dr. Sundar Vekatesh


AITM organized its 4th Public Seminar on “Is E-Learning Changing the Landscape of Higher Eucation?” on 8 May 2013 in its lecture theatre in AITM Building. Dr. Sundar Venkatesh, a distinguished Professor of Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand, and our AITM visiting faculty for Managerial Accounting for our MBA program, delivered the seminar on this important topic. Prof. Emeritus Ram Manohar Shrestha, Chairperson of AITM Academic Council chaired the session which was attended by some very senior distinguished personalities including Deans and Professors of Nepalese universities.
Today, there is a crisis in higher education. Those universities which are doing very well financially may not feel at this moment but sooner or later these enterprises are going to be real trouble. This trouble will be mainly attributed to the rising costs, larger administration and increased bureaucracy, reducing state support, balancing work and study, educational elitism, capacity limitations and faculty shortage at large.

Title: Is e-learning changing the landscape of higher education?
Speaker: Dr. Sundar Vekatesh, Visiting Prof. – AITM; Professor – Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Bangkok
Date: May 08, 2013

To illustrate above, take an example of IIM – Ahmadabad where students need to pay approximately $30,000 in tuition fees plus living costs. This tuition fee has increased 5 fold in last 10 years. There are 2.15 lakh applicants for 3500 seats in 6 IIMs, but meet this demand the supply side has not increased sighting institutional capacity, shortage of space, physical facilities and faculty crunch, etc. To address all or some of these problems for meeting growing demand and fulfilling the wishes of large number of aspirant applicants, a new fix has evolved – E-Learning widely known as Online Study.
These days, a variety of online options are available which can be fitted on a continuum from FULLY ONLINE to FULLY In CLASS. Physical Capacity constraints are relaxed with online delivery and the costs at the margin are much lower. The delivery of online courses is possible anytime and anywhere eliminating locational disadvantages. The online option is just bringing revolution in the higher education systems. The proportion of chief academic leaders that say online learning is critical to their long-term strategy is now at 69.1 percent (compared to 50% in 2002) – the highest it has been for this ten-year period. The number of students taking at least one online course is approximately 6.7 million and the proportion of all students taking at least one online course is at an all- time high of 32.0 percent. According to a 2003 report, 57.2 percent of academic leaders rated the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face.! That number is now 77.0 percent.

However, regarding the faculty acceptance of online courses, only 30.2 percent of chief academic officers believe their faculties accept the value and legitimacy of online education. This rate is lower than the rate recorded in 2004. There are also barriers to widespread adoption of online learning. There is need for more discipline on the part of online students, which leads to lower student retention rates for online courses. The most difficult part is the lack of acceptance of online degrees by potential employers.

In view of growing demand for online learning, today’s academic institutions must consider this new pedagogical approach that is dynamic and learner centered. There is technology that is user friendly while enhancing learning effectiveness. Trained and motivated faculty is the backbone of this new approach that needs to be realized using a suitable delivery model. But most importantly there must be appropriate testing and certification process in place, which will help in the accreditation of such courses by the potential internet- savvy employers.