IIIT Hyderabad always does things ‘hatke’. Be it the compulsory attendance, the grade reductions for weird reasons, the course structures, or the morning PT; there is a vamped-up version of everything for us. Everything except how you might spend the first few days of your college life. You can’t really change that, can you? For us, the college took charge of this as well. Welcome to IIIT.
The college decided to greet us with a three week long Induction Program, involving HV and HSS courses, guest lectures and meet-up sessions among ourselves (the cluster meets) and sometimes with our seniors. The idea was to help us adjust to the new environment and get to know our batchmates and seniors. We learnt that the induction schedule that was designed for us was new, and different from those of the previous batches. So we decided to conduct a survey to see what our batch felt about the schedule.
The New Induction Program
This year, the college decided to integrate the HV (Human Values) and HSS (Humanities and Social Skills, actually Performing Arts) courses with the Induction Program. During that time, we spent 3 to 4 hours everyday on HV where we talked, watched movies and video clips, slept, and pretended to understand what was going on. We also had daily HSS sessions and got to try each of the performing arts for 3 days. We went on a full day Hyderabad city tour, one day of field visit, where we visited an NGO, a COVA (Confederation of Voluntary Associations) camp and some orphanages. There were a lot of guest lectures as well, some as a part of HV, some as introductory workshops. A few notable ones among them were a heartwarming talk by Gopichand, our “favourite” one by Guruji, a talk on time management, theory of knowledge, privacy and intellectual property rights, personal freedom, public health and fire safety.
But the best times during the induction, which I’m sure that the article can’t cover, were the ones that we spent outside all these classes and lectures. We spent those times interacting with new people. We met someone new almost everyday. Most of us had previously lived at just one place during our school lives. We were not very used to being at a place where we knew absolutely no one. Those times during induction were the ones when we worked on getting to know our batchmates and making new friends.
Eventually, the freshers practice began, where we would stay awake through most nights practicing, with a lot of “healthy interactions” and “tawa bondas.” This seemed like the time when the seniors would decide who would be the one to send on a sprint to get bondas and shawarmas, or the one to give tasks during Felicity and other college events.
Basically, the college tried to give us a hint of everything they could think of, to make us aware of the diversity and different aspects of college and life. The very open discussions about life, society, God and people, helped us widen our horizon.
The Batch Survey
IIIT, during the induction didn’t meet people’s expectations of “a programming hub” and some were waiting for the academics to start. Let’s face it, three weeks is too long a period for an introduction. Most people thought a week would be much more apt, give or take a few weeks.
Overall, the programme was “pretty okay”, with this-is-freakin-awesome moments like Gopichand’s lecture and the orientation tour, and I-don’t-know-whether-my-head-will-burst-first-or-I-will-be-asleep moments like Guruji’s lecture and HV sessions.
The Apex meetings helped the majority during the initial days of college and the introductory meetings to various college bodies and Felicity were also pretty useful, although some also felt that that time could be used for better lectures and workshops, maybe related to IT. Actually, this was the main problem with the schedule – we felt the quality and topics of the talks and workshops could have been much better.
The HV sessions
Sit in class, pretend to know what’s going on, sleep, repeat the next day: HV summarised. While the majority of IIIT would agree with the above pattern, some actually enjoyed HV and probably benefited from it. HV was mostly about discussing various aspects of life, which would usually get redundant and drab, but sometimes we would get to watch video clips or movies and that was probably the only interesting part of the 4 hours spent.
The HSS sessions
HSS sessions could be very interesting for some because we got to try a lot of things that we had never done before. Most of us aren’t dancers (oops, presentational movement-ists), painters, or any sort of artists, but those 15 days were really fun. Most of us liked the idea of learning a new art every 3 days, although many were bored because they had to do something that they probably didn’t like. I also felt that we could have had other additions to the current list of HSS courses. Perhaps, a book reading, discussion and writing session, because a lot of us are into literature. If the college aims at giving us an experience about how life and world outside our classroom is, it should definitely include a literature and language section as part of HSS.
People also said that we could add dance (real dance), drama, film, poetry, embroidery, cooking.
Guest lectures and Workshops
Most people would agree that we could have had much better lectures and talks than what we got. From the awesome one by Gopichand and the gender workshop, to a lot of other boring ones, we mostly struggled with attendance. Because who wants to attend a fire drill and a talk on personal hygiene in the college?! Here are some of the responses on asking which events the students would like to remove from the schedule:
- Guruji kinda stuff
- Nothing in particular, maybe Guruji
- Guruji’s session
- Guest lectures, Guruji, HV
- Some of the speeches were damn boring
- Guruji’s talks and the summarisation shit
- Talks by people like Guruji
I think you get the point.
The first part of the trip included a visit to the Golconda Fort which almost everyone liked. It was fun to go to the top but exhausted everyone for the latter part of the trip. Also, it was the first time UG1 got a batch picture. The next stop was Salar Jung museum, and the interestingness of it was debatable; some wanted more time there and some didn’t want to be there at all. Overall, it was pretty peaceful and had many interesting display items. The last stop was the Buddha Statue at the Hussain Sagar lake. It was basically a small island with no place to stand and overpriced kulfi and cold drink. Exhausted and suffocating in the crowd, everyone left the island cursing.
When asked to rate the orientation trip, most rated it way above average. After all, this is where we made most of our friends. Many people did mention, however, that more interesting places like Birla Museum and Planetarium, Charminar, or the film city could be added to the list instead of say, Salar Jung. Also, we would have liked to go to Wonderla.
The field visits were something that we really had to do unwillingly. And it was probably the worst part of the Induction Program. Pochampally, heat, and hate.
The responses from the survey were mostly distributed, with a clear majority towards hate. A lot of hate.
We also asked the people about what events they would like to add to the schedule. Some of the responses were:
- Time Capsule – writing things now that will be kept safe till when you are just about to leave college, and then it will be amusing to dig up the thoughts of four or five years ago
- Speed dating
- ITWS (Some of it could have actually been covered during Induction as optional session)
- Workshops on cyber security, intro to coding, graphic design, web development and other streams including sports(not PT)
- More debate club events
- A couple of book-club meetings
- Public ragging
- Several people asked for coding related events (especially for those with no prior knowledge), and an introduction to competitive programming early on
Here are some of the responses when asked about the memorable moments (good and bad) of the schedule:
- The one question at the end of Guruji’s lecture
- Gopichand was nice, everything else was not
- I got to hear Gopichand Sir, which remains the best lecture I attended in my entire life.
- Worst – Guruji, Memorable – Gopichand, Best- Gender sensitization
- Golkonda trip-definitely. Apex meets – nope, it’s like they were promoting things they should be standing against.
- HSS wasn’t that great. Mediocre and felt like Kindergarten.
- HV was really good. It helped me see a lot of different perspectives.
- Icebreakers (Multiple times)
- Handloom factory trip: 6 hours travel time, 30 minutes at the actual place.Other comments by people:
- I felt the schedule took too much of time,which made our later schedule more hectic. Assignments were more frequent, also exam dates were mismatched, which caused a bit of a hassle. Overall a cool idea but needs proper management.
- Please, please vet your apex better. It’s a good concept, but it was very badly implemented. The wrong people were chosen. Remove the ice breakers, they’re pointless. Add a few more debate club events, book club events, etc. Basically, make it a bit more interesting.
- Add a section about the professors’ interviews and something about this ragging program and anonymous views on it so that alongside those who oppose it, those who support it can also voice their opinions.
- Safety rules should be put in place for the orientation trip (especially for those who fail to get the difference between the value of life and the value of a selfie).
Final Words – In Comparison by Mahathi Vempati (editor)
The induction schedule before this constituted of activities and meetings in the evenings, and freshers practice sessions in the nights, while having classes during the day. HV and HSS were semester long courses. The exams aligned with the rest of the college.
If one were to compare and analyse the two schedules –
The UG2k17 batch spent most of their first three weeks in some or the other activity mingling with each other, and the lack of academic load helped them bond even more. The previous batches however, did bond with each other over a longer period of time. The new schedule gave people the opportunity to socialise when they were most enthusiastic to.
HV is a course that cannot be done all at once. Given that the course aims to develop values and emotional intelligence skills, it is a useful course when one discusses something in class, and reflects about it during their usual routine, and puts what they learn against the real life events they experience, and then comes back to share things in class. One of the key elements to this process taking place properly is time. When done in one stretch, HV is more likely to be an abstract discussion easily forgotten.
One also misses out on discussing several things that occur only if you take a long enough stretch of time (interesting things in the news, changes in the student schedules, and so on). It may have been a good bonding experience, and maybe even slightly more enthusiastic because it was done at a time when people were more open-minded and not filled with biases handed over by the seniors, but whether it had the lasting impact the course aims to have is debatable.
The time element holds for HSS as well. Previously, students had one skill that they picked up and practised under the instructor for a semester. And those who were interested, did the work sincerely and had good instructors, had more to take away from HSS than a few paintings and sculptures in terms of the thinking process that particular art had to offer. The HSS in the current induction schedule was mostly about trying new things (5 different courses in 3 weeks), bonding, and maybe selecting the course you would want to pick in the next semester. Not so much about developing a skill.
The new schedule has the advantage of not making the first year students plunge into academics from the moment they entered college, and even though from the suggestions it looked like some people would have preferred academics, it was a great idea to make people explore the non-academic side of college free of burdens. It takes quite a bit of effort and interest to do so once academics start.
Like some of the first year students suggest, a shorter induction schedule while having HV and HSS continue through the semester might have been a better option. It is great that the college put a lot of effort and thought into making the best out of the first few days for the freshers, and we look forward to having better induction schedules each year by taking feedback from the students.