Founding of RGUKT

  • The idea to create IIITs in Andhra Pradesh came in April 2007, at the request of the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. He was dissatisfied with the opportunities available to the rural youth and wanted to set up at least three IIITs in the three regions of Andhra Pradesh which would ensure better opportunities for rural students.
  • A Task Force was created under the Chairmanship of Prof. K.C. Reddy. This Task Force produced a report to the government recommending the structure and functioning of the proposed institutions.
  • In March of 2008, the AP Government created RGUKT by an act of the Legislature as a full-fledged university which would initially admit roughly the top 1% of the rural students into the three residential campuses.
  • The first batch of about 6,500 tenth class graduates was admitted into a six year integrated program in August of 2008. The initial selection was based on the local best model where students receiving the top marks in every subject were selected

RGUKT Educational Objectives

The primary objective of establishing RGUKT was to provide high quality educational opportunities for the aimed rural youth of Andhra Pradesh. The initial goal was that at least the top 1 % of the rural graduates would be given the opportunity to study at RGUKT.

The top 1% of rural graduates is around 6,000 to 7,000 per year. Thus, the three campuses would need residential accommodation for about 36,000 students for the six year integrated program.

At present, most universities in India and in Andhra Pradesh follow the affiliated college structure model where the main role of the university is to set the curriculum and conduct examinations to ensure that the students have indeed learned the material prescribed in the curriculum. Most colleges have an entering class of 100-300. Having an entry class of 6,000 students leads to issues of scale. This is unique to RGUKT and is being attempted for the first time in India. In the US, several of the larger universities do have enrollments of 20,000 to 30,000. However not all of them tend to be residential universities. Thus RGUKT, as a green field university, represents a unique experiment in the educational arena.

The assumption is that ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), will permit the scaling of the learning environments by one to two orders of magnitude is currently possible. Creating a scalable and sustainable educational environment using ICT, becomes essential in countries where qualified teachers are hard to find. The Intelligent Tutoring Systems Technologies and Learning using tutored video have made progress but not many of them have been superior to the conventional educational environments.

Another key educational objective of RGUKT is to use advances in learning sciences and explore the use of modern cognitive science tools in education and learning.

Phrases such as “Learning by Example”, “Learning by Doing”, “Problem-Based Learning”, “Self-Paced Learning”, etc become facilitated when every student can be assured to have a personal computer that does not have to be shared with anyone else.

In general, Intelligent Tutoring Systems assume fully autonomous operation. However, building such systems has proved to be expensive and time consuming. RGUKT continues to use human mentors as an aid to intelligent Tutoring Systems rather than trying to adopt a fully autonomous systems model. The role of a human mentor is not to teach the subject but rather to answer questions and lead discussions to facilitate the learning process.

Jim Gibbons at Stanford has demonstrated the effectiveness of the use of mentors as part of the tutored video process instead of conventional lectures in a classroom and demonstrated the superiority of tutored video learning methodology.
At RGUKT, the students go to school for three semesters a year. During two of these semesters, students learn the same material that students in other universities are expected to learn. However, the third semester is used to broaden the educational experiences of every student.

Premature specialization of subjects begins at present in the pre-university courses such as MPC or BPC specializations. It is the intention at RGUKT that students would be exposed to Humanities, Social Sciences and Fine Arts in the extra time available. Thus in six years, it becomes possible to include materials that would normally have taken nine years in any other educational environment.

More than learning specific material in individual subjects, the emphasis at RGUKT is in “Learning to Learn”. The basic goal is that every person should be taught the skill of “Learning to Learn” since after graduation from universities one does not have access to teachers for the remaining 80+ years of their life. The second important underlying skill that every graduate should have is the ability to apply knowledge to solve problems. In the past, emphasis has always been on demonstrating that you understand concepts and not in the ability to apply concepts using knowledge to solve problems. And finally, the skills needed for day to day living and survival are also deemed to be important skills. These include topics such as stress management, time management, anger management negotiation, personal finance, personal law and personal health and hygiene. Usually such topics are not part of any university curriculum today. RGUKT believes this is a very important aspect in growing to be a productive citizen, a productive parent and a productive family member.

Role of ICT in the learning process

The fundamental assumption at RGUKT is that the students will learn more effectively if each of them has a laptop connected to the Internet and have been given the skills for accessing and using the resources of the Internet. For example, the lectures and the text book content and problems to be solved including example problems, are all made available on a server and the student can go back and re-listen or re-reference the material repeatedly, unlike a lecture which can only be heard in real time once. This ability to re-listen provides a great deal of help for those people who are struggling with understanding the lessons because they are missing some basic concepts. The ICT environment also makes it possible for students to work on problems at an individual pace without being left behind in a classroom environment and being lost forever.

Every student is provided with a personal computer (usually a laptop) from day one and much of the educational experience is complier-mediated. Since getting high quality teachers has always been a problem given the lower salaries the lectures are provided on line by world class teachers and classroom support is provided by domain specialists and home room tutors who play the role of an instructor and teaching assistant in a conventional environment handling a smaller group of students.

It is expected that all the text books for all the subjects will be online and each problem will be hyperlinked back to the specific content in the textbook so that the student can quickly review the material needed to solve the problem at hand. Every learning unit has one hour of problem solving to reinforce the concepts they have a learned during that period. However not all students are able to solve all the problems within a one hour period. If they are stuck, immediate help is available from the Domain Specialist and Home Room Tutor. Instead of the conventional homework assisted by an untrained parent, the use of immediate help by an expert who knows the problem at hand and can instantaneously provide guidance eliminates much of the wasted effort in following dead end paths.

In an IT-rich environment, it now becomes possible to do several things that would not have been practical in a traditional educational system. It is now possible to track the progress of each student while he/she solves the problems and see what distinguishes very good students from the students who seem to be struggling. It also becomes possible to get instantaneous feedback from all the students to a wide range of questions from the quality of the food to the quality of the education and quality of the mentors, permitting mid-course correction which is not practical in a conventional classroom environment.

In an ICT-intensive environment, it now becomes possible to administer all the examinations online and provide immediate feedback including an analysis of the errors they made during the test.

Why RGUKT?

A person born into a low income, rural family in India can’t really aspire to study at an IIIT or aim to be selected into the IAS. This is true is many cases. The reason for this is because they start with many inherent disadvantages such as:

  • The educational level of the parents
  • The quality of teachers and the schools they go to
  • The ability to pay for coaching classes, and
  • The time on task devoted to study the material
It has been observed that, on an average, the marks obtained by the students in rural India are about 10-20% lower than the marks of students studying in private schools of urban India. As a result, most of the seats for higher education get filled by students from these private schools when the basis of selection is the marks obtained. Even if a rural student is capable, the educational system doesn’t allow him to go ahead. The goal of RGUKT is to help remedy this unfortunate situation.

At RGUKT, a “Lowest Best Model” is used to select students from a small community like a Mandal which had a few hundred students graduating each year in comparison to selecting students based on a statewide or nationwide ranking system based on marks or entrance tests. Such a practice overcomes the disparity in the selection process between the urban and rural environments. Therefore, the better performance of students in an urban Mandal doesn’t have an impact on the selection process of students in a neighboring rural Mandal.

The other issue RGUKT is attempting to tackle is the issue of “Early Specialization”. In most cases, once a student goes into a Junior College for a pre-university program, he gets routed through coaching factories that drill them to get the top ranks in entrance tests which will enable him to secure a seat in a good college or university. This kind of intensive coaching makes students uni-dimensional with very little understanding of anything other than what they have been coached in.

Once students get into professionals colleges, they don’t get any exposure to Humanities and Social Sciences for the rest of their lives. RGUKT attempts to deal with this issue by giving students direct admission into a 6-year integrated program after class X. Here, they are not subjected to two years of torture preparing for entrance tests. Since these students are already gifted and belong to the top 1%, it is expected that they will do well naturally and don’t need other entrance tests. However, the reservation system, based on the Affirmative Action Program of India, requires that students belonging to the weaker sections of society be given at least 50% of all the available seats. Many of these students, due to their backgrounds, are likely to be less educated and less trained even though they might be the best in their sub-group. Thus, the student body entering RGUKT will have a diverse educational level. What is common is that they are selected because they are the best in that community. Medium of instruction is almost always Telugu. This in turn brings about the need for remedial programs to be developed so that all students can go through an educational program with English as the medium of instruction.

In Andhra Pradesh, over a million students pass the class X statewide exam yearly. Of these, the top 1% or about 10,000 students are probably brilliant but their educational levels of achievement are diverse and disparate based on their schooling and quality of education. Since admission into RGUKT is based on a “Local Best Model” and uses the rule of reservation as put forward by the government of India, this top 1% has a wide diversity of marks. 60-70% of the students come from rural backgrounds and will have the opportunity to study in a world class institution.

Education at RGUKT is based on the intensive use of Information Technology. Every student has access to a laptop and education uses the latest advances in Learning Sciences such as Learning by Example, Learning by Doing and Problem-based Learning. Online lectures are provided and lectures are followed by problem solving sessions that reinforce what has been covered in each lecture.

Learning Environment at RGUKT

At RGUKT, each year consists of three semesters of sixteen weeks each. Each week consists of 24 two-hour learning units over a six day period. Only Sunday is free for unstructured activities.

Each learning unit consists of a short, pre-recorded e-Lecture of 10 to 15 minute duration providing the motivation and background for the topic under discussion. When appropriate, the video lecture is followed by an audio PPT presentation. This is followed by an e-Library reading session in which the students are monitored and encouraged to review the relevant reading material from a highly tailored, domain-specific website. The PPT and the reading session are expected to take 30-40 minutes. This is followed by a ‘Learning by Doing’ problem-solving session on the topic that was discussed and reviewed in the previous hour. This structure is followed for all subjects from English to Physics to Mathematics to Chemistry.

Broadly, the learning process at RGUKT assumes the availability of online lectures in the form of a tutored video interspersed with questions to test the understanding of the student followed by a “Learning by Doing” problem-solving session. For each problem the student is expected to solve, there is a separate website providing the relevant resources needed to solve that problem. The content that is necessary to solve the problem the student should have read and understood is shown with an example of a similar problem solved to illustrate the steps in the problem-solving process. Finally, a listing of the knowledge the student must have to solve the problem such as facts or theorems or prior equations is provided.

Another aspect of learning at RGUKT is the use of facilitated student teams. A group of five to six students are expected to work together in solving problems with the help of a homeroom tutor who is available to assist about ten such teams that are in the class.

The Humanities and Arts dimension is to be implemented using multi-granularity learning units. It should be possible for a student to learn any subject including the constitution of the country in a one hour lecture, half-day review session, one day, three days, one week and four week intensive study of a subject. The one day course might consist of learning units such as First Aid, Physical Fitness, Emergency Preparedness, Personal Management, etc. Typical one week courses might be stress Management, Time Management, Learning to Cook, Learning to Drive, Communication and Presentation Skills and Personal Finance. The one month courses might include topics such as Law, Medicine, Conflict Resolutions Entrepreneurship and other classical disciplines which the student may otherwise never get to learn about.

The learning process at RGUKT uses several cognitive science principles which have been demonstrated to be more effective than conventional lecture-based classroom learning. These are Learning to Learn, Learning by Examples, Learning by Doing, Just in Time Learning, Learning by Error Correction and Debugging, Self-paced Variable Duration Learning and Learning in a simulated, immersive environment. Some of these concepts are already being used and it is hoped over the next few years, these will be implemented to improve the effectiveness of learning.

Soft Skills and Edutainment

After an evening break consisting of sports and dinner, students are expected to go back to the classes for a wide range of activities involving soft skills and edutainment. These sessions are normally supposed to happen from 7:30PM to 10:30PM.

The students have access to audio books of classics, both Western and Indian. The Western Classics might include books by Mark Twain, Walter Scott, Dickens and the Indian classics might include the Autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi. Each paragraph in each book is hyperlinked to an audio rendering of that paragraph so that a student can listen to a native speaker reading the paragraph with proper pronunciation and intonation. Thus, as well as reading the classics, the student is also able to learn how certain proper names are pronounced such as San Joaquin Valley. The students also learn how to do touch typing, prepare and participate in debating clubs and read newspapers online. Those students that are taking the remedial classes will miss some of these activities but it is expected that they will have plenty of time to catch up.

Life at RGUKT

As mentioned earlier, RGUKT is a fully residential environment. This is necessary because most of the rural students come from a geographically distributed wide area and would not be able to commute to the campus. Thus, it is essential to provide a fully residential campus with all of the facilities included such as a shops, hospitals, bank, laundry, barbershops, etc. appropriate for a community of about 20,000 people consisting of 12,000 students, 3000 faculty and staff and 5000 service providers of various types. The Director of the Institute also becomes the pseudo-Mayor of this township dealing with the typical problems of community based living. Since the students are joining the institution at the age of 15 where they are undergoing physical transformation and hormonal changes, being away from home adds to their stress. The local Health Clinic must provide for Psychological Counseling and support.

Many rural households tend to be poor and many of the factors of daily living that we take for granted are not always known, such as using a sit-down toilet as opposed to a squatting toilet and significant additional personal education will be needed to facilitate the integration into the larger community.

Message from the Chancellor:

Inauguration speech document by Dr. Reddy

Talks and lectures:

Talk by our Chancellor Prof. Raj Reddy Audio file of Dr. Y.S.Rajasekara Reddy’s speech at Nuzivid

Sports & Games:

RGUKT provides facilities for both indoor games such as caroms and chess and outdoor games such as volleyball and basketball. Swimming pool facility will be made soon. It is anticipated to hold Inter-campus competitions will also be held.

Shopping center:

To cater to the needs of students, there is a general store, a canteen, a salon and a beauty parlor in every hostel. Students can make use of these services at a reasonable price.

Extra-curricular activities in RGUKT:

RGUKT’s goal is to give students a well-rounded education and doesn’t stop with just giving students an education in the Sciences and Engineering. Students are encouraged to get involved in arts, music, drama, debate, paintings and other elated skills. At this point, there is no full time faculty for these disciplines but it is anticipated to hire full time faculty and visiting faculty also.

Medical Center:

RGUKT provides its students and staff all the necessary medical facilities. A medical center with the required facilities is under construction and is anticipated to be operational soon. The center will have 30 beds and 3 doctors.

Plan your visit

Maps and directions from the closest city or town - hyper link to maps and directions document

Note:

  • Parents are allowed to meet their children only on Sundays.
  • Relatives of students are not entertained unless they are accompanied by the students’ parent(s).
  • Parents need to make an appointment to meet their children.
  • When students want to go out of campus to their home towns, parents are required to come and pick them up.
  • Cell phones are not allowed to be used on campus. Students can use their cell phones in their rooms alone. If one is found to be using a cell phone on campus, it will be confiscated immediately.
  • No food from outside is allowed in the hostel. Parents are not supposed to bring snacks or food of any kind for their children.

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