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The Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani is an All-India Institute for higher education deemed to be a University by the Government of India. BITS Pilani is a technological university currently offering Master's degree and Doctoral programmes in various areas of Science, Humanities, Management and various branches of Engineering & Technology. As of this writing, BITS Pilani has three full-fledged campuses at Pilani & Goa in India and at Knowledge Village, Dubai in UAE.

These programs were initially offered to only on-campus students. However in the past decade it has had significant experience in distance learning pedagogy and instructional design. To make its model of distance learning scalable, reachable to wider audience and leverage the benefits of emerging technologies, BITS conceived and designed the BITS Virtual University (VU).

This VU project envisages the design and development of multimedia course that is web-enabled that goes towards the curriculum of a full-fledged degree program. This enables people who are off-campus to avail of the facilities offered to a normal on-campus student registered under the same program. The advantage of this concept of VU is that students can get a degree from BITS, while being off-campus. Since these courses are web-enabled, the student can work in his own comfortable environment and is not restricted to the classroom. Moreover he can work at a pace with which he finds convenient.

All the students registered for the current semester are given a login and a password. Using this the student can access course materials for which he has registered. Prescribed textbooks and materials which will be useful to the student are made available separately.

Multimedia based Soft-Teachers are deployed for explaining concepts. Some innovative methods of using Java based "concept applets" for educational resource development have been used. An attempt has been made to simulate classroom teaching so that it is easier for the student to understand the course. To give the student a feel of lab environment, an introductive virtual lab framework has been designed, which can be reused for certain categories of practice-intensive courses.

Desktop IP based Video-Conferencing, Scheduled Video over IP and Video-on-demand over IP facilities are available as integral components of this learning support system.

Currently only a few subjects that form part of the Master's program are available in the Virtual University mode, but as the "Virtual University" concept gains momentum and popularity other programs will be made available as well. However, the evaluation components, until the technology matures, shall remain conventional.


Philosophy of BITS Virtual University