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Expert panel to support the NEP 2021 directive for Vocationalization of Schools

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Expert panel to support the NEP 2021 directive for Vocationalization of Schools

November 13, 2021

On November 13th, we hosted an expert panel “Review Strategies for Development of Virtual
Skills Labs to support the NEP 2021 directive for Vocationalization of Schools”.


  • Dr.Jose James, Research Scientist, Brown University
  • Akshay Nagarajan, Ph.D. Student, Cognitive Sciences, UC San Diego
  • Unnikrishnan, Ph.D. Student, VR for Skill Training, Aarhus University
  • Vishnu Rajendran, Ph.D. Student, Agricultural Robotics, University of Lincoln
  • Srividya Sheshadri, Research Associate, AMMACHI Labs & Center for Women’s
  • Empowerment and Gender Equality
  • Deepu DS, Haptics TeamLead, AMMACHI Labs, AmritaVishwavidyapeetham
  • Chaired by: Prof. Bhavani Rao
  • Moderated by: Ajay Balakrishnan


The Ministry of Education, Government of India has taken the initiative to foster and scale
vocational skills in schools (grade 6 to 12) as per the National Education Policy (NEP 2020).
One major initiative the ministry has identified to enable this is the creation of virtual labs for
skills. The Olabs developed by Amrita have contributed considerably to enabling schools
children to practice lab work and also its relevance further increased during the recent covid
pandemic. The success of this initiative has prompted the MoE to consider a similar initiative
for vocational skills for schools. The MoE has requested Amrita along with other ministry
stakeholders to come up with a framework for virtual labs for skills.

Virtual labs for skills – Objectives

  1. To provide remote access to simulation-based Labs in various disciplines of vocational education.
  2. To enthuse students to learn and apply the skills arousing their curiosity.

Workshop Activities
The workshop consists of technical experts who deliberate on the possibilities, framework, challenges to create the virtual lab for skills. The outcome from this workshop would be a
a recommendation that could be shared with the Ministry of Education.
● Framework & Components of the virtual lab for skills
● Determine the type of lab/simulation based on skills E.g plumbing vs automotive repair,
retail operations vs CNC operation, etc.
● Technology recommendation for the simulations (keeping in mind to keep development
cost per individual skill/ competency reasonable)
● Sizing the development efforts for creating a lab (ballpark)
● Considerations and Potential challenges for creating the virtual labs
● Shortlist samples for skill labs to be shared with the ministry.

The event started with the welcome address by Dr. Bhavani Rao with a quick context on the workshop and the agenda. The first discussion was around the “Review of OLabs Structure for
Schools, what may be applied, what may not be, what else to include”. The team presented the current OLabs structure, which is already well accepted by all government institutions and schools.

Main Discussion points/ Outcomes

a. Practical labs are required for getting practical knowledge of the concepts taught.

b. A hub with tools for conducting hands-on may be set up for multiple schools. There are already plans for a schools hub model for nearby schools. So logistics can be shared and students need to travel which may have some practical issues.

c. There is no fund for running this kind of model for existing setups which is available right now. Atal Tinkering Labs could be the best example of this. Also, entrepreneurship models can be implemented and will be beneficial for students and schools.

d. NSDC/NCERT has plans for the same and they can handle this entrepreneurship model. There are three priorities: first, we have to choose the courses that we offer with ease of approach, second what people demand, and third what industry demands.

f. In the virtual labs, add the context with real-life examples and there should be connectivity for each module in one exercise. Job skills also need to be incorporated. Causality – why certain things work a certain way and include common mistakes/ errors/scenarios.

g. The content should be context-based learning. First impressions should be good, so if we can keep the theory second after a good simulation experiment.

h. Include why questions to each experiment and practice and to improve the skills make a module.

i. The following modules can be included:

  • Real-world applications by video/pictures
  • Teaching components and tools
  • Some trials with the tools, how to use it with safety precautions etc
  • Transferring procedural knowledge
  • Application-based practicing (task solving)
  • Popping up errors and showing the consequences
  • Giving statistics/info of what good you have done/ what went wrong in the experiment

Detailed Responses from the Panelists for the questions

Q1: Framework for virtual labs & IT components

  • Akshay
    • Add context to the skill exercises
    • Show connectedness – how would you look at this data; visualize;
    • Include science behind concepts/ skills
    • Add job skills
    • Add causality – why certain things work a certain way
    • Include common mistakes/ errors/ scenarios
  • Unni
    • Add context
    • Skill applications – use examples at home or where they can access
    • Theory should come along with the context
    • First impression regarding the skill matters
  • Vishnu
    • Include the why?-
    • Include real world practices
    • Include application module; for practice and improve skills

Q2: Skills Framework and mapping into activity design

  • No one was familiar with any existing skill framework or skill categorization. Points
  • from panel
  • Need to build their capacity to build skills
  • Type of skills may be categorized for identified courses. broadly we could start with
    • Procedural skills,
    • Fine motor skills
    • Decision-making skills
    • Higher-order thinking skills
    • Emotional / Psychological skills
  • Consider conceptualizing of a framework where skills may be stacked
  • Framework/skill categorization may be iterated upon based on the skills involved
  • Evaluate toolkits of British, TAFE systems

Q3: Examples & Technology

  • EPFL has examples of teaching warehouse management using VR/AR.
  • 3D gaming/ VR is justified (ROI) when we invoke higher-order thinking skills
  • Build on existing PB and Automotive modules. In plumbing, moving around pipes, laying pipes, water connection principles may be developed
  • Some low hanging fruits include
    • Identification, sequencing, common mistakes
    • Type of technology, immersiveness may be decided based on complexity, budget, platform (mobile), etc.
  • We may try to build an assembly task of two wheeler in VR, 3D as an example.
  • Unity 3D is the preferred technology, due to its support, optimization, etc.

The session concluded with a vote of thanks by Ajay and Dr. Bhavani thanking all the panelists and the workshop participants.


November 13, 2021
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