Hyderabad: Analytics from Virtual Labs initiative released by the International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (IIITH) has shown an increasing trend in the usage of Science and Engineering-related online laboratory material over the last six month period.
Coinciding with the imposition of the lockdown in India, statistics show a steep rise in page views of the materials – from 6,28,300 on March 25 to nearly 4 million in June, the IIITH said in a press release on Thursday.
“We have seen a surge in the number of usages due to the recent Covid-19 situation. This reiterates the importance of virtual labs for students across the country and world,” said Dr. Venkatesh Choppella, Principal Investigator, Virtual Labs, IIITH.
He referred to the US, Colombia, the UAE, Philippines, and Malaysia who are currently some of the leading non-Indian users contributing to more than 15 percent of the total usage.
The IIITH said from providing remote access to labs to a complete learning management system, the Virtual Labs initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) includes additional web-resources, video-lectures, animated demonstrations, and self-evaluation for undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as research scholars.
In addition to creating content, the team at IIITH under the Virtual Labs Engineering, Architecture and Design (VLEAD) is also primarily responsible for developing and maintaining the central engineering platform which hosts over 1,000 experiments created by the partner institutes.
IIITH director Prof P J Narayanan said “The MHRD-funded Virtual Labs effort started in 2009 for college-level courses. IIIT Hyderabad’s experience played a strong role in making it happen. Over 20 of the institute faculty members developed Virtual Labs in their areas of expertise and are available on the platform for the world to use. In the later part, IIITH took up the role of managing the backend as well as ruggedizing the Virtual Labs in the system. Virtual Labs could be an important tool for college students even in normal times, the Covid-19 days have brought that to the fore forcefully. However, there is plenty of room for growth as 4 million hits is still a tiny number in the Indian scenario.”
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