There are no courses for history in the India-based Swayam portal. Harvard University’s online courses are on China. The Department for Continuing Education of University of Oxford has online history courses that is predominantly British history. Thus, to learn Oriental history (excluding Chinese history) especially Indian History, there are no MOOCs.
Online classes are not capable of substituting classroom lectures. The former is very seldom able to generate the interaction that is needed in a class. Moreover, the teachers’ body language, which is a part and parcel of the classroom lectures and is imperative for their success, is also missing in online classes. The use of technology will not only lead to more discrimination, but also will create some practical problems. It will also lack the desired interaction in the class.
Since online instruction is more intense and requires more effort in their delivery, universities may be forced to completely separate tracks for research and teaching. This could change the nature of university education beyond recognition and eventually branch out into two distinct streams – one that prepares students for industry and the other for a career in academics and research. While the former can be more easily delivered online, the latter will continue in the traditional mode but for a much smaller group of students.
Standing in this era of modern science and technology, I feel fortunate to see the world as it steps into a new realm of modernization, reaching towards superheroistic capabilities. Nevertheless, we should also give a thought to the “what if”s that might pop up in a pessimistic mind. What if something goes wrong? What if the good guy becomes the bad guy? To put these questions into perspective, in this article I will touch upon a few promising upcoming technologies outlining their darker sides for our future and the role of the scientific community to ensure safety.
In what follows, I will try to formulate a Socratic Oath of the Academic, as distinct from the Socratic Oath of the Teacher.
The article titled ‘The Socratic Oath of an Academic’ in this collection discusses the concept of an academic’s Socratic Oath. To the two vows in that oath, I would like to add three that deserve commitment.
The decades before the turn of the century, years prior to globalization, and emergence of internet, the prevailing scene of science training and research in India were replete with repetitive and meaningless research themes and decadence in the social and human dimensions of academic life. The author recalls, in a general and anecdotal manner, the overall atmosphere prevailing in academic institutions, as a student of biology in the 1980s. It is left open for the reader to decide whether situations have changed in the meantime.
Academic research should not be limited to students of an advance level alone, it is imperative to start acclimatising first-year undergraduate students to open up to independent academic thought. All academic institutions need to celebrate their undergraduates and give them a chance to participate in academic discourse, they need to feel welcomed, included and confident in the perspective they choose to represent.
The academician is primarily meant to be furthering their chosen field – be it in the sciences, arts or something else. Furthering their field would include research, teaching or communication about that field adhering to proper ethical standards.
The digital media is therefore, in many ways, a gift to simpletons who believe in whatever nonsense is thrown at them, and even more so to the creators and designers of this nonsense. The various platforms on the internet, from Facebook to YouTube, on which one can “say or write anything”, are literally like freely available weapons to be used by any know-it-all – innocent or partisan –to throw drivel at everyone on the street. It is not the case that there was no stupidity in the world in earlier times but the means to make stupidity ubiquitous were absent, thus limiting the amount of nonsense that could be created and injected into the system, and also the speed at which it would propagate.