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Digital Initiatives in Higher Education: Digital revolution is bringing in sweeping changes in the Higher Education landscape. Every institute is taking various initiatives in promoting digital education.
The technology of online education and all the digital initiatives have the possibility to revolutionize higher education scenario in the near future.
Digital Initiatives in Higher Education
The use of technology through online education in higher education also becomes imperative due to the following factors:
a) Affordable: Online education is cheaper than formal education without compromising on quality, thanks to low infrastructure costs and large learner base.
b) High Quality: Online Education is directly delivered by the best teachers, assuring a high quality of instruction.
c) Inclusive: Online Education addresses the rural-urban divide which is manifested by the fact that at present India has 4.5% of graduates in rural areas as against 17% in urban areas. For females, the disparity is starker: 2.2% female graduates in rural areas, as against 13% female graduates in the urban areas.
d) Employability: By a flexible curriculum that is in line with the current market requirements, online education can enhance the employability quotient in the youth.
e) Uses internet: The penetration of IT infrastructure is expected to increase internet users from 40.9 Cr in 2016 to 73.5 Cr by 2021. This will enhance access to online courses to the youth.
f) Smart Phones: Increasing penetration of smartphones, which is expected to increase to more than 60 Cr (2021), would further facilitate the use of the online courses using the telecom spectrum.
g) Higher spend: The households spend on higher education is going to increase in future, affording an opportunity for the hitherto unreached population to the portals of higher education.
h) Retraining the workforce: The pressing need of the employment sector for re-training and career up-gradation as per the needs of the market is best served by online education leading to Life-long learning.
i) Skilling the unskilled: The Skill India Mission would certainly require online courses for reaching out to a large number of unskilled or semi-skilled population to help them to upgrade their skills.
The education through digital mission holds promise since it is accessible to everyone, it is affordable, it can overcome the shortage of quality faculty and it can enhance the enrollment in the higher education system. The digital learning platforms provide opportunities for lifelong learning.
These are the Digital Initiatives in Higher Education by MHRD, UGC etc.
One of the best Digital Initiatives in Higher Education is SWAYAM. The ‘Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds’ (SWAYAM) is an integrated platform for offering online courses and covering school (9th to 12th) to Post Graduate Level.
Further reading: Study Notes on Swayam
SWAYAM Prabha is an initiative to provide 32 High-Quality Educational Channels through DTH (Direct to Home) across the length and breadth of the country on a 24X7 basis. It has curriculum-based course content covering diverse disciplines. This is primarily aimed at making quality learning resources accessible to remote areas where internet availability is still a challenge.
Further reading: Study Notes on Swayam Prabha
National Digital Library (NDL)
The National Digital Library of India (NDL) is a project to develop a framework of virtual repository of learning resources with a single-window search facility. There are more than 3 crore digital resources available through the NDL.
The contents cover almost all major domains of education and all major levels of learners including life-long learners. More than 50 lakh students have registered themselves in the NDL, with about 20 lakh active users. The NDL is available through a mobile app too. It may be accessed on ndl.gov.in.
They are 10-minute long, audio-video tutorial, on open source software, to improve employment potential of students. It is created for self-learning, audio dubbed into all 22 languages and with the availability of online version. The languages are C, C++, Java, PHP, Python, PERL, Scilab, OpenFOAM, OpenModelica, DWSIM, LibreO and many more. The Spoken Tutorial courses are effectively designed to train a novice user, without the support of a physical teacher.
Free and Open Source Software for Education (FOSSEE)
FOSSEE is a project promoting the use of open-source software in educational institutions (https://fossee.in). It does through instructional material, such as spoken tutorials, documentation, such as textbook companions, awareness programmes, such as conferences, training workshops, and Internships.
Textbook Companion (TBC) is a collection of code for solved examples of standard textbooks. About 2,000 college students and teachers have participated in this activity & close to 1,000 TBCs have been created in Scilab and made them available for free download.
The Virtual Labs Project is to develop a fully interactive simulation environment to perform experiments, collect data, and answer questions to assess the understanding of the knowledge acquired. In order to achieve the objectives of such an ambitious project, it is essential to develop virtual laboratories with state-of-the-art computer simulation technology to create real-world environments and problem handling capabilities. There are about 225 such labs operational, with more than 1800 experiments and benefitted more than 15 lakhs students.
E-Yantra is a project for enabling effective education across engineering colleges in India on embedded systems and Robotics. The training for teachers and students is imparted through workshops where participants are taught the basics of embedded systems and programming. More than 275 colleges across India have benefited from this initiative. All the projects and code are available on the e-Yantra website www.e-yantra.org as open-source content.
Shodhganga” is the name coined to denote digital repository of Indian Electronic Theses and Dissertations set-up by the INFLIBNET Centre. The Shodhganga is set-up using an open-source digital repository software called DSpace developed by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in partnership between Hewlett- Packard (HP). Shodhganga provides a platform for research scholars to deposit their PhD theses and make it available to the entire scholarly community in open access. The repository has the ability to capture, index, store, disseminate and preserve ETDs (Electronic Theses and Dissertations) submitted by the researchers.
Under the initiative called “ShodhGangotri”, research scholars/research supervisors in universities are requested to deposit an electronic version of approved synopsis submitted by research scholars to the universities for registering themselves for the PhD programme Now it is expanded to MRPs/PDFs/ Emeritus Fellowship etc. The repository on one hand, would reveal the trends and directions of research being conducted in Indian universities, on the other hand, it would avoid duplication of research.
More than 15,000 international electronic journals and e-books are made available to all the higher educational institutions through e-ShodhSindhu initiative. This allows access to be the best educational resources in the world using digital mode. The INFLIBNET, Gandhinagar, Gujarat is implementing the Scheme.
It is a database of experts and National Researcher’s Network that is initiated by INFLIBNET.
The objectives of e-VIDWAN are to:
- collect academic and research profiles of scientists, faculty and research scientists working in leading academic and R&D organizations in India and abroad;
- quickly and conveniently provide information about experts to peers, prospective collaborators, funding agencies, policymakers and research scholars in the country;
- establish communication directly with the experts who possess the expertise needed by research scholars;
- identify peer reviewers for review of articles and research proposals; and
- create information exchanges and networking opportunities among scientist.
The database can be used for selection of panels of experts for various committees and task forces established by the Ministries / Govt. establishments for monitoring and evaluation purposes. Further, the availability of single point expert database will help the policymakers and funding agencies in decision-making and policy intervention.
Talk to a Teacher
Talk to a Teacher developed by IIT Bombay, is an initiative of the National Mission on Education through ICT, funded by MHRD to provide free access to a few selected graduate and postgraduate courses, taught at IIT Bombay by distinguished faculty members and scholars at large. It uses the A-View collaboration tool developed by Amrita University for providing virtual classrooms to the faculty across the country.
Establishment of 1 GBPS Connectivity to universities and 20 512 Kbps broadband connectivity to colleges has been provisioned under NMEICT. A total of 600 Universities have been connected through 1 Gbps Optical Fibre; 22026 Colleges have so far been connected with 10 Mbps bandwidth. On the lines of ‘Digital India’ initiative of the PMO, the MHRD has now decided that the campuses of Universities, (having 1 Gbps bandwidth) shall be made WiFi-enabled campus. Already all the IITs, IIMs, and NITs have established WiFi campuses. The process of laying the optical fibre and provision of the WiFi in Central Universities is currently underway.
National Academic Depository (NAD)
It is an initiative of the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Govt. of India (MHRD) to facilitate digital issuance, storage, access and verification of Academic Awards issued by Academic Institutions. NAD is a Unique, Innovative and Progressive initiative under “Digital India” theme towards achieving Digital enablement of the Education Records. NAD aspires to make the vision of Digital Academic Certificates for every Indian a reality. This touches the lives of Indian youth and empowers them with Digital, Online, Trusted, Verifiable Certificates which are accessible in a secure manner at all times. NAD promises to do away with difficulties/inefficiencies of collecting, maintaining and presenting physical paper certificates.
It is another MHRD/ NMEICT initiative for creating Digital-Learning Environment for Design in India. It has successfully achieved the following project objectives, on completion of its phase I:
- Digital online content for learning Design with e-Learning programs on Design
- Digital Design Resource Database including the craft sector
- Social networking for Higher Learning with Collaborative Learning Space for Design
- Design inputs for products of National Mission in Education through ICT.
Digital Initiatives for School Education
The digital India campaign has promoted extensive use of ICTs in the teaching-learning process. The e-Pathshala, a joint initiative of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Govt. of India and National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has been developed for showcasing and disseminating all educational e-resources including textbooks, audio, video, periodicals, and a variety of other print and non-print materials for Students, Teachers, Parents, researchers and educators.
It provides access to digital textbooks for all classes, graded learning materials and enables participation in exhibitions, contests, festivals, workshops, etc.
e-Basta is a framework to make schoolbooks accessible in digital form as e-books to be read and used on tablets and laptops. The main idea is to bring various publishers (free as well as commercial) and schools together on one platform.
Besides the portal, a back-end framework to facilitate the organization and easy management of such resources have also been made, along with the web-based applications that can be installed on tablets for navigating the framework.
Sugamya Pustakalaya is an online library that contains books accessible to the blind, people, with low vision or to persons with any other print disability.
The library houses publications across diverse subjects and languages and multiple accessible formats. It has been created by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in collaboration with member organizations of Daisy Forum of India (DFI) and powered by TCS Access.
National Teacher Platform (NTP) branded as “Diksha” is an initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. It is a state-of-the-art platform built to host Open Educational Resources (OER) and tools for Teachers in Schools, Teacher Educators in Teacher Education Institutes (TEIs) and Student Teachers in TEIs. It is built considering the whole teacher’s life cycle – from the time student teachers enrol in TEIs to after they retire as teachers.
Saransh is a tool for comprehensive self-review and analysis for CBSE affiliated schools and parents. It enables them to analyse students’ performance in order to take remedial measures. Saransh brings schools, teachers and parents closer, so that they can monitor the progress of students and help them improve their performance. It is a Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) initiative.
The MHRD and other institutions are working for better higher education to all. The govt. is focused on ICT based teaching-learning experiences. We hope, there will be more digital initiatives in higher education in the near future.