“Technology is best when it brings people together”. Rightly said by the young American entrepreneur, Matt Mullenweg, these words re-emphasize the worth of ease of communication. Following principles similar to this, the IT department of Manipal Institute of Technology strives to make communication easy on campus along with its other functions. Team CollPoll got the opportunity to have an interesting conversation with Mr. M. Sathish Kamath, Assistant Director, IT (MIT) on the lines of the efforts taken by MIT to enhance interaction on campus over the years and how CollPoll can help strengthen those efforts. Here is an excerpt from the chat.
Good afternoon Sir! To begin with, please tell us something about your association with Manipal.
Good afternoon. Talking about my association with Manipal, it has been a long journey, which began in 1994, when I joined the institution as a programmer. Gradually excelling at what I did and learning new things, I moved to Information Systems in 2001. 2006 onwards I was given the responsibilities of Junior System Executive and then I held the position of Network Admin from 2009 to 2012. My role as the Assistant Director, IT began in 2012 and is continuing till date.
What is your vision of technology implementation in an education system?
I think technology should strengthen the education system in such a way, so that it can trigger positive outcomes by providing updated information as and when required.
What were challenges towards technology empowerment faced by the institution in the past and how were they addressed?
The institution has faced many challenges regarding technology empowerment in the past and we have always come up with solutions to overcome them. The year 2000 saw the introduction of a campus network by Wipro and provision for getting MRI scans in the hospital was made available. Again, in the year 2001 an internal e-mail system was developed for communication on the campus which made use of the Solaris platform. A couple of years later, the Microsoft exchange platform was implemented and ‘Learner Manipal’ was introduced in 2008. Currently there is a portal known as ‘Student Information System’, which started developing in 2004 and tries to fulfill the information needs of the students/parents of the Manipal University.
What are the IT facilities available on campus currently and what will be the focus in the future?
The IT team at MIT consists of 10 members currently, who work towards turning the campus into a technology empowered one. The year 2006 saw the establishment of the ‘Data centre’, whereas the year 2007 saw a major development in the form of transformation of the campus into a Wi-Fi enabled one. Also, from the year 2006 onwards all students and faculty members are being given laptops for a better learning experience. In 2006, MIT tied up with ION, an organization that has been providing Wi-Fi services on campus since then. All our classrooms have LCD projectors for better understanding and addressing a large audience effectively. Moreover, we are planning to implement a LMS for the institution very soon.
Talking about future goals, we are aiming at becoming a ‘Smart Campus’ within 5 years. Dr H Vinod Bhat, the Vice Chancellor of Manipal University and DR. G.K. Prabhu, Director of MIT share the vision of achieving this target and have been constantly guiding the IT to ensure that we reach the ‘Smart Campus’ goal in the next 5 years. Moreover, the top management of the institution has also been persistently supporting the IT team to reach new heights in the near future.
Would you agree that the implementation of CollPoll has taken the least amount of time and effort from your end?
Yes, I think I would completely agree with that. I had a very good experience interacting with the CollPoll team. The implementation of this digital platform required the least amount of intervention from my end. Moreover, it does not require user training and has an easy UI, which should be very helpful for the students, faculty as well as administrators. Moreover, I think CollPoll will play a significant role in turning our ‘Smart Campus’ vision into a reality by making connectivity with stakeholders and parents easier. Basically, in my view CollPoll will act as a very effective collaboration tool on campus.
In your view, how much will this type of communication be useful?
I think better communication can bring about drastic changes in any learning environment. Referring to the MIT campus, we support a democratic and open education system, where engaging students in important decision making is one of the important aims. In this regard, CollPoll will be very useful, as better interaction will let students participate in the senate meetings and give voices to their concerns.
What are your expectations from the CollPoll app?
In the first place, I expect the CollPoll app to be unified with the existing academic system framework. It should be a portal which ensures transparency and accuracy of information available. Also, I would like it if the platform could keep the students updated regarding their dues and hostel financials as well.
Thank you Sir, for your valuable time. It will be a pleasure on our part to work with the aim of fulfilling your expectations towards technologically empowering the MIT campus.