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Rural audience yet to optimise IIT education portal NPTEL

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PalGalGuy | Sanjana Donkar | 13 October 2015 |

The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), a project funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), is in the last few weeks of the third and final phase. Though amongst the ‘Most Viewed Educational Channel’ on YouTube, the rural populace seems to be far from making the best use of it, resulting in it being beneficial only for the urban crowd. Then how is NPTEL attempting to reach out to students from the rural areas, that too in its final few weeks? NPTEL courses and lectures are available for free download even on mobile phones, but for students with no access to internet the solution seems to be DVDs. “We have a DVD format which the students can make use of, and it is supplied to interior areas by our distributors. Also, we conduct various awareness programmes for the students in the colleges to popularise this programme so they can make the best use of the content,” said Deepa V, who spoke on behalf of NPTEL. She adds that colleges from tier-2 and 3 cities also approach the NPTEL, to access the videos and educate students with quality learning material. This is provided by NPTEL on hard disks.

“The difficulty lies not in distributing the material, but in creating a ‘demand’ for the course content in the rural areas. We are equipped to deliver the material but the demand for the video content in DVD format is hardly 1% of the total users.” says Balaraju Kondaveeti, CEO and Co-founder of BodhBridge, the distributors of NPTEL DVDs. He added there has been a slight improvement in the approach and acceptance to the online lectures across the country, especially in the urban cities. However, the rural public is yet get to the same level of acceptance. NPTEL which was started in 2003 as a joint collaboration of 7 IITs and IISc, is now in the final few weeks of the third phase. They are waiting for funding from the HRD ministry before December 2015 to carry forward any further activity which will enable them to reach out to a larger section of the rural areas. “If only we are funded from the MHRD, can we increase our efforts to ensure we get the required response from the students belonging to the rural areas.” added Deepa. This funding seems to be uncertain, as they have no clue if that will happen or not.  NPTEL is believed to be largely beneficial for the students preparing GATE and other higher education programmes. But so far only 3 students from a rural background have made the best use of this facility. It remains to see if the HRD ministry will give NPTEL the required push to concentrate their focus on the students from rural background. Also what needs to be seen is that how the NPTEL will formulate their strategy, in order to focus on the students from the interior parts of the country.  – Courtesy


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