Bridging the classroom-industry divide

Anukriti Sharma
Monday, 24 July 2017

The new version of IMAD aims at imparting practical knowledge among students to help them in developing their own mobile apps and websites

The new version of IMAD aims at imparting practical knowledge among students to help them in developing their own mobile apps and websites

In a difficult job environment, with massive layoffs predicted in the near future, and more number of people graduating in different fields every year, both working professionals and college students are looking for ways to upgrade their skill sets and learn latest technologies. The Introduction to Modern Application Development or IMAD, a free Massive Open Online course (MOOC) offered by Hasura, a platform to build and deploy app back-ends, and IIT Madras, aims to bridge this skill gap. More than 83,000 students have registered for the course so far, making it India’s largest MOOC.

Rajoshi Ghosh talks about the course and its benefits. “It is an online course which aims at teaching students how to build mobile and web applications. The course focuses on providing practical knowledge to students and helps them in understanding fundamentals of the new developments in the IT sector. It is not just based on theoretical lectures but we want students to build their own web applications and learn the technicalities through practical knowledge. We also have discussion forums where students can ask each other questions and work in a collaborative environment. For us, the content is important but one just doesn’t learn everything by listening to people,” he explains.”

The eight-week long course offers a set of lectures on the first day of every week and practical assignments during the week. After the eighth week, you can write an optional exam conducted by IIT Madras, which gives you a certificate if you score above 40 per cent. The course is broken into five modules that will be covered over eight weeks: Introduction to the Internet, and its common network protocols, Build a basic but complete web application, Learn the how and why of modelling data for your application using databases,

Learn about performance and how to ensure security for an application, and Learn how to build your own mobile application.
The first version of the course was launched in September 2016, while the second rolled out in January 2017. The third version of the course was launched on July 24 and the registration dates have been extended up to July 29. Talking about the inception and the market value of the course, Ghosh says, “My partner Tanmay at Hasura, during a discussion with one of his electrical engineering professors, figured out how the market of online courses is on a rise. Actually, IITs pan India have online portals where they put out recorded lectures and it has been quite popular among engineering students. Over a period of time, we have realised that there is a huge gap between what is being taught in college and what is required on field. What students are learning in universities is a little outdated. So when they step into the market, their knowledge is not really up to date. It is one of the reasons why newcomers in large companies go through six to 10 months of training so that they can get a practical idea of what they are supposed to do.”

Ghosh says that it is not just youngsters, even IT professionals are already pursuing the course. She also points out that students must do internships to gain better practical knowledge of their field during their college. She explains, “The major problem is that curiosity is not encouraged in our schools. In fact, even if we look at resumes these days, there is not much difference except grades. So in order to build your resumes and gain universal knowledge, people shouldn’t just keep their focus on what is being taught in class. Try participating in extra curricular activities like theatre, music or sports to open up your minds. We have also started a remote fellowship where students can do a product design fellowship and come up with their own ideas and solutions for the same. We wanted to give them a taste of the real world and teach them self discipline as well.”

 

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