Teaching

Courses

I will be teaching at IIT Gandhinagar . The information about the courses will be updated below, including the links to the lecture notes and the associated computer programs. I also plan to share the .tex and .html files of the lecture notes, and the computer programs on my github page. This is to employ the idea of class-sourcing (See the Teaching strategy below). The students will be encouraged to “fork” the repository, modify the lecture notes and programs according to their understanding of the subject, and then request me to include those changes in the master branch (original notes). I will then include (commit) the appropriate modifications. I plan to test this approach for the first semester and therefore no grades will be assigned for the student contributions. I think that this approach will introduce students to the world of online collaboration.  

Courses for Semester II (2017):

1. ES 212 (Fluid Mechanics):

I am a tutor for this course. The course is offered to the second year undergraduate students in the disciplines of Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Material Science and Engineering.

Schedule per week: 3 lectures, 1 tutorial

Link: https://sites.google.com/iitgn.ac.in/es212

Instructor: Dr. Dilip Sundaram

2. FP 101 (Introduction to Engineering):

I am one of the instructors for this course. It is offered to the first year undergraduate students in the disciplines of Chemical Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Material Science and Engineering. I will be involved in the lectures, hosting invited talks and scheduling the industrial visits concerned with the discipline of Chemical Engineering.

Schedule per week: Will be provided soon

Link: Will be provided soon

Teaching strategy: In classroom

I think that the generation of knowledge (scientific research) and its sharing (teaching), are complexly interconnected parts of a knowledge ecosystem. My main objectives while teaching a particular course will be, 1) to help students filter information, 2) to help them develop analogies between different concepts, 3) to inculcate sharing habits and 4) to develop long-term curiosity. Below, I describe the strategy that I plan to use to achieve each of these goals.

The amount of information on a particular subject is increasing at great pace and there are evidences that the information overload influences efficient application of scientific concepts [1]. I have experienced this while learning specialized topics like statistical mechanics of interfaces. I observed that it is sometimes impractical to consider every detail of a scientific topic during its application. Therefore, I want to clarify the foundations of a particular subject such that during its future application, a student can identify relevant minutiae and then estimate the amount of personal resources that must be invested to learn them on her own. In order to do this, I plan to use a course structure where lectures will cover a topic in a general way and then use exercises on a special topic (say, interface between solid and liquid).

Important scientific and technological advances have resulted from analogies constructed between seemingly unrelated concepts. Moreover, I have observed that analogies often help in solving routine problems. To give an example in molecular simulations, analogies can be exploited to develop a single computer algorithm that can handle different ensembles. In order to help students utilize this aspect of thinking, I plan to arrange my course such that even if successive topics may appear unrelated at first glance, they will contain interesting similarities at the basic level.

Sharing knowledge is an important part of the modern world as indicated by the usefulness of large scale collaborative projects like Wikipedia and Linux. I like to think of each course as a collaborative project between me and students. Here, I propose to implement a novel teaching scheme called class-sourcing [2]. Typically, each course will use a separate collaborative software tool (like a Wiki6) to enable the modification of course notes by students. The course will start with notes by me that will be modified and expanded by students over the duration of course. Such software help in tracking the individual contributions and moderating them (in this case, by me). A part of students’ grades will depend on their participation in this project. With each semester, the modified notes will help new batch of students understand topics with greater clarity. Also, to avoid the saturation of contents, this strategy will induce them to follow new developments and develop their writing skills. Finally, this work will be shared on website so that broader community can benefit from student’s efforts.

Finally, I am interested in developing curiosity among students towards natural and artificial processes surrounding them. I think that curiosity can help a person live an intellectually fulfilling life irrespective of her profession. An important step towards this direction will be to help them realize that members of the course – including me – are research collaborators. Some exercises will be designed to include a small part of actual challenges faced during my research projects. Students’ attempts will be rewarded by showing them how the particular exercise problem forms an important piece of a larger research story. I expect this teaching scheme to motivate them to look curiously at a particular question with the hope of understanding its bigger implications.

Teaching strategy: In research group

I want to inspire students working with me on research projects to nurture skills in addition to those mentioned in earlier paragraphs. Considering the theoretical and computational nature of the scientific projects, they will be encouraged to study courses that may improve their proficiency in certain aspects of mathematics and computer science. The members will be expected to periodically present the recent advances in these fields that can influence their research area in long run. Next, I want to ensure that group members learn good writing skills so that they can communicate efficiently with scientific colleagues. Therefore, members will actively participate in the creation of literature like peer-reviewed papers and proposals using novel collaborative tools like Wiki [3] and Docear [4]. Also, I think that it is important to explain our work without technical jargon to prospective students, those taking my courses, and non-scientific community that indirectly sponsors our projects. Along these lines, members will periodically update the detailed information about pursued projects on group/institute website. In order to ensure that the taxpayer’s contributions are spent honestly on the pursuit of knowledge, each member will be required to maintain an openly accessible log book to track the progress of a publicly funded project. Finally, I want to actively participate in nurturing young minds towards whatever career they are interested and will regularly meet each member for a detailed discussion on long-term goals.

References
1. Parolo, P. D. B. et al. Attention decay in science. arXiv:1503.01881 [physics.soc-ph] (2015). at <http://arxiv.org/abs/1503.01881>
2. Tsipursky, G. Class-Sourcing: Student-Created Digital Artifacts as a Teaching Strategy. (2014). at <http://cgi.stanford.edu/~dept-ctl/cgi-bin/tomprof/enewsletter.php?msgno=1343>
3. MediaWiki. at <https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/MediaWiki>
4. Docear. at <http://www.docear.org/>