Tech integration reshapes pedagogy, boosts flexibility & personalization
In the rapidly evolving landscape of higher education, the adoption of new technologies is paramount for engineering colleges seeking to meet the expectations of both students and parents. As parents increasingly prioritize future readiness when selecting an engineering college for their children, institutions must demonstrate a commitment to staying abreast of technological advancements.
The DQ-CMR rating of engineering colleges has emerged as a reputable benchmark, garnering significant attention for its comprehensive insights derived directly from the grassroots level. Over the past sixteen years, this rating system has effectively addressed the prerequisites of all stakeholders, enhancing the credibility and desirability of the institutions it evaluates.
In the age of digitalization, the DQ-CMR Digital Index Survey, now in its fourth edition, plays a crucial role by placing a spotlight on the integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in engineering institutions. This survey underscores the importance of leveraging ICT tools and methodologies in technical education, ensuring that engineering colleges remain at the forefront of educational innovation. By emphasizing the integration of digital technologies, the survey contributes to shaping institutions that not only meet current industry standards but also prepare students for the dynamic challenges of the future.
Industry 4.0 and The Devices
Industry 4.0, often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, signifies the integration of digital technologies into various aspects of industry, fostering a new era of connectivity, automation, and data exchange. In the context of engineering colleges, the role of devices such as computers and laptops is paramount as 90% colleges are providing computers/laptops to students for preparing them for the demands of this evolving industrial landscape.
In engineering education, these devices serve as indispensable tools for teaching and learning. They facilitate access to a vast array of information, simulation tools, and design software, enabling students to gain practical skills that align with the technological advancements of Industry 4.0. Professors can leverage these devices to deliver interactive lectures, conduct virtual experiments, and engage students in collaborative projects, replicating real-world industry scenarios.
Southern based Engineering Colleges took the lead in participating in the survey with 66% of the institutes coming from this region. This was followed by North, West and East in that order.
The importance of the right device cannot be overstated. High-performance computers and laptops empower students to run complex simulations, perform resource-intensive tasks, and engage in coding and programming activities seamlessly. For educators, having access to advanced computing resources ensures efficient lesson planning, research, and the development of cutting-edge curriculum materials.
The concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) further enhances the adaptability and accessibility of technology in engineering colleges. Almost all colleges have adopted BYOD policies, allowing faculty to use their personal devices for academic purposes, fostering a dynamic and personalized teaching environment. This approach encourages a sense of ownership and familiarity with the tools, promoting a more collaborative and interconnected educational experience.
Research Methodology and Key Outcomes
The Digital Index Survey 2023 drew participants from engineering colleges spanning all levels nationwide. Among the participants were prestigious institutions such as the National Institutes of Technology (NITs), and Indian Institutes of Information Technology (its), as well as a diverse array of Tier I private and public engineering institutions.
The DQ-CMR Engineering College 2023 survey was conducted in two phases:
Phase 1 – Initial Desk Research and Groundwork Phase
The EduTech Practice at CMR meticulously reviewed and refreshed its expansive EduTech Knowledge Base during the initial foundation phase of the engineering college survey. The primary objective of this preliminary groundwork was to systematically identify and consolidate a comprehensive list of all technical schools across India. This inclusive approach encompassed both private educational institutions and government-run higher education establishments, each being meticulously listed.
The survey was strategically delimited to colleges established before 2018, exclusively focusing on those that offer graduate technical courses at the B.E., B. Tech, or an equivalent level. This selective criterion ensured a focused examination of institutions with a substantial track record, emphasizing the commitment to quality technical education. The refined EduTech Knowledge Base serves as a robust foundation for the subsequent phases of the survey, setting the stage for a comprehensive and insightful evaluation of engineering colleges in the country.
On behalf of DQ and CMR, an invitation was sent to those universities that have been shortlisted to take part in the nationwide survey.
Phase 2 – Primary Research
The EduTech Practice at CMR initiated contact with the Engineering Colleges shortlisted in Phase 1, employing predominantly online data collection methods. The gathered data underwent a comprehensive evaluation through the specialized CMR TIME (Teaching, Infrastructure, Motivation, and Environment) Framework. Within this framework, distinct weights were assigned to various parameters to ensure a nuanced and fair assessment.
The TIME framework distribution is as follows: Emerging holds the highest weight at 40%, followed by Infrastructure at 30%, Teaching and Learning Approaches at 20%, and IT Institutes’ Motivation at 10%. Notably, Motivation, while integral, was accorded the least weight. This decision was not indicative of its insignificance but rather a pragmatic approach considering the inherent challenges in objectively capturing motivational aspects. Thus, Motivation received the lowest weight to maintain a balance between its importance and the practical complexities associated with its assessment. This meticulous weighting system within the TIME framework underscores the commitment to a thorough and impartial evaluation of the shortlisted engineering colleges.
More than 90% of those that actively participated in the activity were private engineering colleges. Government institutions should also participate more actively as this yearly activity may also reveal their digital competence.
Southern based Engineering Colleges took the lead in participating in the survey with 66% of the institutes coming from this region. This was followed by North, West and East in that order.
Within the framework of the TIME Framework, over 40 pivotal questions were disseminated to engineering colleges, inviting their valuable feedback. These questions, carefully curated to provide comprehensive insights, allowed the DQ-CMR team to construct a detailed and cohesive digital profile for each institute. Engineering colleges were afforded ample time to submit their responses, either through in-person interactions or online submissions.
The contributions underwent thorough scrutiny by the CMR EduTech Practice, adhering to the market research code of ethics. A meticulous review ensured the completeness and accuracy of the information provided, supplemented by a random check method that cross-verified over 30% of the submissions. To gain a holistic perspective, CMR Analysts engaged with key stakeholders in discussions, enriching the understanding of each Engineering College.
Quantitative inputs from diverse engineering colleges were then assessed to facilitate parameter comparison among participating institutions. Absolute data was systematically converted into relative data for a standardized evaluation. The final scores for each parameter segment were calculated by multiplying the quantitative scores with pre-established weights, resulting in overall scores for each participating engineering college. These scores facilitated a systematic ranking, with the institution garnering the highest overall score securing the top position. Furthermore, rankings were stratified by zones and categories (Government/Private), providing a nuanced and comprehensive evaluation of engineering colleges within distinct contexts.
In addition to ranking the institutions, aggregate analysis was completed.
• To comprehend the condition of digitalization in engineering colleges better.
• To lay out a road map of the problems that engineering colleges face when implementing ICT.
• To determine the areas of emphasis for the engineering colleges for the upcoming year.
• To understand the adoption of emerging engineering fields like AI & Robotics etc.
The following are the main outcomes of the 2023 Digital Index Survey:
Key Trends in the DQ’s TIME Framework
The outcomes of the DQ-CMR Digital Index Survey facilitated the mapping of the overarching characteristics of each engineering college onto the TIME Framework by CMR. This strategic integration allowed for a nuanced evaluation of the state of digitalization within these institutions.
Teaching & Learning
The virtual system of education during the pandemic has proven to be a significant boon for both teachers and students, notwithstanding its inherent challenges. While lacking the direct physical connection of traditional classroom methods, the online teaching methodologies, driven by the push towards digitalization, have played a crucial role in ensuring uninterrupted education. This adaptation has not only maintained educational continuity but has also uniquely equipped future engineers with essential skills for international collaboration, even within local settings.
One notable advantage of this digital shift is the intensive instruction students receive in leveraging technology for online presentations and utilizing various online resources, such as Google. This exposure contributes to their preparedness for a globalized working environment, emphasizing the practical application of technology in professional settings.
In the realm of teaching and learning at engineering colleges, technology is pervasive. A significant majority, 87%, employ eBooks and e Textbooks, while 82% utilize online video and audio resources. Additionally, the integration of learning management systems, exemplified by platforms like Moodle, is embraced by 79% of engineering colleges nationwide. This data underscores the widespread adoption of diverse technological tools in engineering education, reflecting a proactive approach to staying abreast of contemporary educational practices and preparing students for the demands of the digital era.
Emerging technologies such as the CAD/CAM, Internet of Things (IoT/IIoT), 3D Printing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and others are proving to be pivotal assets for engineering colleges.
With the return of physical classes, there has been a decline in the regular use of open educational resources (OER) among faculty members in Engineering Colleges nationwide. The shift back to traditional classroom settings seems to have led to a reduced reliance on these digital learning materials. Despite this dip, educators need to recognize the evolving dynamics and find a balance between traditional teaching methods and the valuable resources offered by OER for a comprehensive and effective learning experience.
• National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) (75%)
• Study Webs of Active learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) (73%)
• National Digital Library of India (NDL) (61%)
• AICTE Online Courses (61%)
• Virtual labs (79%)
• Free and Open-Source Software in Education (FOSSEE) (48%)
• The Spoken Tutorial (45%)
The top three software used by Engineering Colleges to enhance students learning are R / Python (86%), MATLAB (84%), and Machine Learning (79%).
Contemporary engineering colleges are capitalizing on the robust technological advancements that enable transformative enhancements to both campus and classroom infrastructure. The widespread accessibility of smartphones and tablets, equipped with cutting-edge capabilities at affordable prices, empowers students to access and collaborate on learning materials anytime, anywhere—both on and off campus. This ubiquity of technology has also facilitated a shift towards incorporating videos, leveraging their capacity to bring external subject matter experts directly into the classroom environment.
The integration of technology goes beyond mere convenience; it reshapes pedagogical methods, allowing for more personalized and flexible learning experiences through a combination of mixed and virtual learning. Engineering colleges are leveraging technology to create advanced learning environments, fostering informal and collaborative learning strategies.
However, the successful implementation of technology in the classroom is contingent upon a reliable network and high-speed connectivity. Scalable infrastructure and ample bandwidth are crucial to minimizing learning interruptions and ensuring the effectiveness of technology-based instructional methods. Many engineering colleges, primarily relying on leased lines for internet connectivity, are recognizing the importance of a robust technological backbone. There has been surge in Wi-Fi enabled campus with a 96% score.
Since the physical classes are back, Real-Time communication (84%) has taken center stage. Interactive whiteboards (81%), Document exchange tools (71%) along with multicast communications (71%) are being adopted widely.
The section delves into the attitudes and expenditure patterns of engineering colleges concerning Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Recognizing the pivotal role of ICT in fostering an environment conducive to research publications, innovations, and creativity, management endeavours to establish a globally enabled ICT environment for both faculty and students. This proactive approach aims to empower individuals, overcoming any inhibitions, and fostering success on both local and global scales. The aspiration is to position the institution as a leading provider of technical education, not only within the region but also on the global stage.
In their pursuit of excellence, engineering colleges have universally addressed this imperative, evident in the articulation of their vision and mission statements. These statements serve as tangible commitments to creating an ICT-infused ecosystem that catalyzes academic and research achievements. By aligning their strategic goals with the integration of ICT, these institutions aim to provide a transformative educational experience, preparing students and faculty to excel in a rapidly evolving global landscape. The acknowledgment of the role played by ICT in achieving recognition as top-tier T-School providers underscore the forward-looking mindset of these institutions and their commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements.
Almost every college experience that adopting ICT makes teaching easier for its faculties. 71% of colleges believe ICT ICT-based teaching in the classroom is more effective. It improves teaching with updated material, ICT-supported teaching makes learning more effective for students and it enhances the quality of teaching.
The average IT budget of all the Engineering Colleges participating in the survey is 2.5 Cr. Zone wise Southern Engineering Colleges spend maximum cost per student.
The ongoing adoption of innovative digital resources and platforms, notably the Learning Management System (74%) and access to Open Research Papers (61%), stands out as a noteworthy trend in teaching within engineering institutions. This demonstrates a proactive embrace of technology, enhancing the educational landscape by leveraging cutting-edge tools and open-access resources. Such initiatives not only contribute to a dynamic learning environment but also underscore the commitment of engineering institutions to staying abreast of advancements in educational methodologies.
Emerging Technologies & Engineering Fields
A paradigm shift is evident as institutions opt for cost-effective cloud-based solutions, embracing a pay-per-use model. This strategic move allows colleges to leverage sophisticated technologies without hefty initial investments. Presently, cloud computing is ubiquitous across engineering colleges, with the South exhibiting the highest adoption rates, while the East lags in this transformative shift.
In parallel, emerging technologies such as the CAD/CAM, Internet of Things (IoT/IIoT), 3D Printing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and others are proving to be pivotal assets for engineering colleges. These technologies not only enhance the educational experience but also equip students with skills that align with the evolving needs of industries.
Moreover, engineering colleges are proactively shaping their curricula to reflect the dynamic demands of industries, introducing avant-garde courses that position students at the forefront of innovation. This forward-looking approach ensures that graduates not only possess the latest technical skills but are also poised to navigate the complexities of a rapidly evolving engineering landscape.
As technology continues to drive transformative changes, the adoption of cloud-based solutions and integration of cutting-edge courses underscore the commitment of engineering colleges to remain at the vanguard of technological advancements. This adaptability not only enhances the educational experience for students but also strengthens the colleges’ contributions to innovation and industry relevance. In navigating this dynamic landscape, engineering colleges are not just preparing students for the future; they are actively shaping it.
Social media usage
While the utilization of social media in technological institutions is not a novel concept, its significance has been accentuated in recent times due to the evolving educational landscape. The current situation has propelled an increased reliance on social media platforms, showcasing their multifaceted utility in academic settings. Academics are leveraging social media for diverse purposes, ranging from faculty recruitment to delivering high-quality instruction.
For professors and educators, social media provides a dynamic platform to connect with peers, share research findings, and stay updated on the latest advancements in their fields. Moreover, the ease of accessibility to a plethora of resources makes it a valuable tool for enhancing the quality of instruction. Students, in particular, find social media invaluable for collaborative learning and problem-solving. The convenience of accessing various solutions to the same problem, coupled with online tutorials from reputable institutions, renders social media a powerful educational resource.
The appeal of social media in technological institutions extends beyond traditional academic functions. It serves as a versatile medium for knowledge dissemination, fostering a culture of continuous learning among both faculty and students. The interactive nature of social media platforms facilitates engagement, enabling real-time discussions, sharing of ideas, and collaboration on academic projects.
In essence, while the integration of social media in technological institutions is not a new phenomenon, its intensified usage in the current educational landscape highlights its instrumental role. Its seamless integration into academic practices, from faculty recruitment to instructional methodologies, underscores the adaptability and effectiveness of social media in enhancing the overall educational experience.
The top three social networking sites are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The usage of social media by students in technical institutes encourages their creativity and has given them access to a wide range of opportunities.
Social media serves as a prominent communication channel for 86% of engineering colleges, facilitating the dissemination of updates and alerts. Additionally, eight out of every ten colleges harness its potential for effective digital marketing strategies. This widespread adoption underscores the recognition of social media platforms as powerful tools for both information dissemination and promotional outreach within the dynamic landscape of engineering education.
Challenges faced for IT deployment
The number one challenge faced in IT deployment is the high cost of deployment (55%).
High Deployment Costs:
55% of engineering colleges grapple with the substantial costs associated with transitioning to virtual classrooms. While online platforms have been swiftly adopted, the financial burden of ensuring a seamless transition without compromising educational quality is a significant hurdle. The need for extensive IT deployment amplifies the strain on existing infrastructure, necessitating a considerable financial investment.
High Running Costs:
Approximately 45% of engineering colleges express concern over the ongoing operational expenses associated with IT adoption. Regular software upgrades, fast internet connections, and high bandwidth requirements contribute to elevated running costs. The initial investment in internet connectivity and the subsequent maintenance expenses pose ongoing financial challenges.
Data security emerges as a prominent worry for two in five institutions. With every aspect of the institute accessible online, there’s a heightened risk of dishonest behaviour that could tarnish the institution’s reputation. Securing sensitive data becomes imperative, necessitating robust cybersecurity measures to mitigate potential risks.
Top 3 focus areas in the coming financial year:
1. Infrastructure Updates and Upgrades:
The primary focus of engineering colleges, as identified by 83%, revolves around the continuous updates and upgrades of infrastructure. Particularly, in response to the transformative shift towards remote operations during the pandemic, the emphasis remains on fortifying robust IT infrastructure. A significant majority, four out of five colleges, prioritize regular updates of essential software to effectively support the virtual medium, showcasing a commitment to adapting and optimizing technological resources for contemporary educational needs.
2. Training and Re-skilling Faculty and Students:
Acknowledging the pivotal role of faculty in the educational system, four out of five engineering colleges are dedicated to training and re-skilling teachers. The primary goal is to facilitate a seamless transition to the virtual platform, preventing students from being left behind. Empowering teachers with IT adoption procedures is deemed crucial for the efficient navigation of virtual classrooms, underscoring the commitment of these institutions to equipping educators with the necessary skills for contemporary teaching methodologies.
3. Leveraging Digital Technologies for the Next Level of Digital Transformation:
In recognition of the evolving digital landscape, nearly four out of five engineering colleges are striving to establish a vibrant social media presence, aiming to take the lead in the upcoming phase of digital transformation. Understanding that a virtual presence is integral for success, these colleges are strategically leveraging digital technologies to ensure comprehensive engagement, aligning themselves with the changing dynamics of communication and interaction in the contemporary educational environment.
Here are some recommendations for engineering colleges to adapt to the evolving demands of the future:
1. Promote a Culture of Innovation:
Engineering colleges should actively promote a culture of innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. Encouraging students to explore creative solutions and fostering an environment that values innovation will better prepare them for the challenges of leading large teams and finding solutions in the dynamic engineering landscape.
2. Embrace Online and Offline Technologies:
Recognize the importance of digital fit in the current technological stage. Facilitate the integration of both online and offline technologies to maximize their potential. This includes leveraging online platforms for course delivery, collaborative projects, and staying updated on emerging engineering fields. Offline methods should complement this digital integration, providing a well-rounded educational experience.
3. Enhance Faculty Digital Literacy:
Acknowledge the surge in online education and work towards improving faculty attitudes towards digital learning. Provide training and resources to enhance digital literacy among faculty members, enabling them to effectively integrate online tools and technologies into their teaching methods. This will contribute to a more dynamic and engaging learning experience for students.
4. Align Courses with Emerging Engineering Fields:
Given the growing demand for specialized skills in emerging engineering fields, engineering colleges should continue to introduce new courses that align with these trends. The emphasis on courses related to Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of Things (IoT), Robotics and automation, and Big Data reflects the need to prepare students for the future
5. Maximize the Use of Technological Tools:
Continue the adoption of advanced technological tools in engineering education. Expand the implementation of Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM), 3D Printing, IoT / IIoT, Artificial Intelligence, and Remote Collaboration. These tools not only enhance the learning experience but also provide practical skills that align with industry requirements.
6. Utilize Learning Management Systems and Open Educational Resources:
Leverage Learning Management Systems (LMS) and open educational resources to facilitate effective course delivery and student engagement. Encourage teachers to incorporate open access research papers, open textbooks, digital films/videos, and simulations/2D-3D animations into their teaching methods. This diverse range of resources can enhance the quality of education and cater to various learning styles.
7. Encourage Interdisciplinary Approaches:
Foster interdisciplinary approaches within engineering education. The complex problems of the future will require a diverse skill set. Encourage collaboration between engineering disciplines and other fields, preparing students to approach problem-solving with a holistic perspective.
Satya Sundar Mohanty
Satya Sundar Mohanty is Head, Industry Consulting group at CMR & Sugandha Srivastava is Senior Manager, Research at CMR