IIT classroom content to be available on Youtube Education hub

Category: Higher Education,  News Source: The Economic Times,  Updated-On: Jul 18 2012


Soon there will be a large spread of the classroom content of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) available at a click of the mouse.

National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL)— an initiative by IITs and ministry of human resource development— is readying an offering of 1,200 courses by December.

NPTEL currently offers some 450 courses across various disciplines of which 250 are through free video lectures. All these courses follow the common national curriculum on engineering courses.

"We are offering 1,200 courses by December. So, a student can do civil engineering or mechanical engineering free of cost, sitting in the comfort of his home with streaming videos from YouTube," says Mangala Sunder Krishnan, professor of chemistry, IIT-Madras and national coordinator for web courses, NPTEL project.

YouTube Education was launched in 2009 globally and has been actively looking for partners in India for the last two quarters. "Our traction in India improved three folds in the last two years from 11 million unique users per month to 33 million. This is a major reason to pursue this project more actively," says Angela Lin, Head, YouTube Education.

It already has a partnership with IITs and Gujarat University. While NPTEL has been an early adopter with its tie up prior to the global launch, Gujarat University has been a recent addition. There is a better reach with broadband reaching more people in the country.

That's the reason YouTube has put together the India team for this project six months back, she says. This has benefited scores of students, like Kunal Priyadarshi, a final year student of computer science at Faculty of Engineering and Technology, Annamalai University.

After a failed attempt at IITJEE in 2009, he now relies on modules taught by faculty from across seven IITs and IISc, Bangalore, free of cost. "The concepts are explained in a simple language.

Reference links too are provided. NPTEL has helped me better my grades from 8.4 to 8.96 GPA in last semester," he says. "We offer complete courses based on the engineering curriculum of the country which no other institute or university in the world does. We are doing it to address the engineering curriculum requirements of India but the content is useful to everyone," says Krishnan.

NPTEL already has 9,600 videos of about an hour's duration each for around 250 courses. The subjects range from electronics, mechanical, aerospace to civil engineering. "The content is delivered by some 1,400 faculty members from across seven IITs and IISc. We have also discussion forums where students can ask questions to faculty members," says Krishnan.

While NPTEL offers its courses free of cost, its faculty members get an honorarium of up to Rs 2.5 lakh for a course (which typically consists of 40 video lectures of an hour's duration) out of a total budget of Rs 7 lakh for a course. NPTEL was launched in 2003 as IITs tried to address the huge demand-supply gap of PhDs and scarcity of quality teachers in the country.

It started with pre-recorded lectures on their website, followed by educational channel Eklavya, besides offering online content on their website and DVDs. The HRD ministry came forward with an initial funding of Rs 15 crore in 2003, another Rs 5 crore in 2007 and an additional Rs 96 crore in 2009.

"The project is helping a lot of interested students who might not have access to great teachers," adds Krishnan. Says Lin, "The education channel helps the oldest and newest universities in the world deliver college education to anyone with an Internet connection.

The potential to bring high-quality content to students across the globe through video is huge." The programme plans to bring in foreign participation including its own alumni. "The idea is to get the best quality lectures from across the world," says Krishnan.

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