What if you could study everything about cybersecurity, criminal investigations, and more in just three weeks? This is exactly the purpose of these independent study period courses. These âbeyond the classroomâ courses are taught by Ahmedabad University over a three week period in an eight hour per day format. Rather than following the regular format of the program period, these courses are offered to enable focused learning through block lessons, studio-inspired experiential lessons, perspective sharing, skill building, lessons on the field and innovative learning experiences. The university proposed this initiative in 2016 and presented some of the courses last December.
We spoke to Dr Bibek Banerjee, Senior Dean, Strategic Initiatives and Planning, University of Ahmedabad after the event to learn all about these interesting Classes which are rooted in disciplines like literature, sociology, design, science, technology and more. Excerpts …
What is the independent study period? How is this different from regular college courses?
The independent study period or ISP at the university is a semester held annually in December. It offers students the opportunity to explore their interests and do so in a real world environment that takes them out of the classroom in a variety of settings, from a simulated crime scene to the bazaars of Ahmedabad or even the environments of Kutch habitat. Students often have diverse passions but have no way to explore them, especially when those passions are unrelated to their academic specialization. ISP uses these interests as a starting point to create interdisciplinary learning experiences and develop conceptual understanding in an experiential manner while collaborating with peers in a project-based environment. Spanning three weeks, with over 60 unique courses ranging from Design Thinking to the Art of Science, ISP courses are an essential tool for students to experiment with new ideas and new ways of learning.
Experimental learning: An overview of the Arts, Engineering and Mechatronics course held during the independent study period at Ahmedabad University
Read more: Renowned historian and biographer Ramachandra Guha to join Ahmedabad University as professor
Are there specific criteria for students to be part of the courses?
All students, regardless of discipline, who are in their first year of an undergraduate program at the University of Ahmedabad can participate in ISP. Students opt for a single studio course based on their interest. An interesting point is that the courses do not require prior experience or knowledge of the field, not even for a course like Musical Instrument Science. In fact, many students in the course have never touched a musical instrument before or never understood the intricacies of music. However, they learn the physics of sound through this process.
We are particularly interested in this course – Clues – The Truth-Finder: Solving the Crime. How it works?
The criminal investigation is a crucial step in solving the mystery behind a crime. In this investigative process, clues play a âcheckerâ role and students learn to understand the meaning of the different types of clues found at crime scenes. Students have the opportunity to learn aspects involved in forensic science while detecting and identifying clues (fingerprints, foot / shoe prints, forged documents, counterfeit money, analysis of blood patterns for n ‘ to name a few) which are usually found at the scene of the crime and establish their connection to the scene of the crime, suspect or victim. A crime scene is reconstructed and the students must solve the crime. Students particularly improve their skills in deductive thinking and understanding physical concepts and human behavior.
Criminal investigation is something that is taught to students primarily in the area of ââforensic science. What methods will this course teach?
The idea of ââsuch a course is to bring interdisciplinary learning, multiple skills and the application of theory to the education of undergraduates. In this case, students learn how to detect and identify different types of clues that are typically found at crime scenes and how they relate to the crime, the suspect or the victim.
Also, tell me more about the Musical Instrument Science?
This is a practical course where knowledge is generated by building a musical instrument in the workshop. Students work in groups with complementary skills. Each group spends most of the course building and studying two or more instruments, including chordophones, idiophones, membranophones, and aerophones. Students design and build their own musical instruments. They also try to understand how the human singing voice works through various (often strange) experiences.
The science of music: Project-based learning at the University of Ahmedabad during the popular course of the independent study period, “The Science of Musical Instruments”
Read more: University of Ahmedabad Launches Global Executive MBA Program for Pharmaceutical Industry Professionals
Regarding the Musical Instrument Science course, what types of experiments are performed to understand how the human singing voice works?
To understand the singing voice, we use spectral analysis applications on our smartphones and experiment with our voices. We make all kinds of sounds and try to understand why we get such varied sound colors, depending on the harmonic content of the sounds the analyzer shows us. The course brings together human physiology, sound and acoustics, and engineering to provide a rich learning platform that allows for a better understanding of any phenomenon. These courses are open to everyone. You can imagine the feeling of accomplishment and joy in a biology student building a geodesic dome or a business student learning physics by building a musical instrument.
How would an eight hour three week day format help students? Don’t these courses usually last longer?
The ISP is done in the studio, in the laboratory or in travel format. As this is a hands-on exercise, students should immerse themselves in these sessions and concepts. The 8 hour format works very well as students learn the practical methods rather than through lectures. The students have so much fun during this process that they don’t want these classes to end.