08 April 2022 06:11:00 IST

Hybrid learning is the future, says KL Univ VC

G Pardha Sardhi Varma, Vice-Chancellor, KL Deemed to be University

Pardha Sardhi Varma, Vice-Chancellor of the Guntur-based KL University, says universities and academic institutions will have to invest heavily in building a technology backbone to offer hybrid and distance modes of learning. “There is no choice but to invest on technologies to offer our content online, monitor the progress, and measure the outcomes,” he emphasises. 

The 42-year-old academic institution, which became a Deemed University in 2009, offers courses in all streams except medicine. It has 14,000 students in the engineering stream alone. Besides the main campus at Guntur, the university has satellite centres at Vijayawada and Hyderabad. Overall, it has 1,200 faculty members. 

KL University, Hyderabad campus

Varma says this generation of students wants to learn at their own pace, so it’s important to make the content available online for them to access. “You need to change the way you deliver the content. They learn whenever they are interested. But the thumb rule is that they should complete assignments after listening to online classes. We measure the outcomes and know the level of their understanding,” he says. 

Revamping curriculum 

Varma says the university has set up a research wing that studies the technology landscape closely and suggests changes to the curriculum. “While retaining the core subjects in the curriculum, we introduce newer ones to meet the demands of the industry. Earlier, the platforms that the industry use would change every 5-10 years, now they are changing every 2-3 years, which calls for swift decisions,” he points out.  

The research team identifies the likely technologies and skillsets that would be in demand in the next five years and the university adapts to that.  

Varma says that the industry readiness of the university’s students would be 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. “Books may cover 80 per cent of the whole subject area. We make the students work on project-based learning and take internships to gain practical knowledge. We factor in these elements into the curriculum,” he says. 

Faculty readiness 

The key to addressing the current challenges is to make the faculty ready for the new paradigm of pedagogy. The university set up a School of Faculty to encourage the faculty to get global certification in newer technologies. “We also encourage students to get such certifications, making them eligible for jobs soon after the completion of their courses,” says the VC, adding that it has tie-ups with 800 companies for campus hiring. 

Varma says that the demand for skilled freshers would be high for the next five years, particularly in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, automation and the cloud. 

The university is also very active in the start-up sphere, incubating about 80 start-ups, with each of them moving out of the incubation stage in three years, says Varma.