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NPTEL The solution to Online Education by IIMs and IISc

by Kishwar Chahal

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Are you thinking of pursuing you education online? Then this article is the gateway for information on one of the most sought after Engineering, Sciences, Technology, Management and Humanities courses to be learnt through online Web and Video mode.

The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) is a joint venture by seven IITs and IISc Bangalore and is funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development India (MHRD).  NPTEL has been focused on providing students learning materials by acting as a curriculum building exercise. Also the study material provided has its syllabi set straight in accordance with the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). Apart from AICTE it also takes into consideration the curriculum of some other major affiliated universities but in moderation and is altered as per the requirement of the NPTEL. Also since the basic aim is imparting information through web and video more so the content and the syllabi for the courses are altered accordingly.

History of the Programme

The origin of the idea for having a technologically enhanced learning initiative was borne by IISc Bangalore in 1999 and it was a piece of the plan to get the IITs and IIMs as a part of the project. This was followed by a workshop on Technology Enhanced Learning (WoTEL) conducted in Bangalore in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Pittsburgh, USA. It was after this that the infrastructure for the production of video-based teaching material by the institutes was set up.

The Courses

The NPTEL focuses on imparting lectures on courses through web courses and video lectures. These lectures are usually in the form of chalk-and-talk, tablet writing, power point, two and three dimensional animations, interactive codes, etc. an online discussion forum has been introduced where students participate by posting questions and reviewing the existing queries. Course assignments, handouts, self-evaluation tasks, etc. have been integrated into the courses. Workshops are routinely conducted for institutes, students, mentors, etc. under the auspices of NPTEL.

Each course is approximately divided to about 40 video lectures which are of an hour each. As of March 2014, as many as 750 video courses and web-based courses have been developed by the faculty members of these institutions.

Text transcriptions of all the video lectures are available on the official NPTEL website in the following formats:

  • Audio file (mp3 format)
  • Transcript (pdf format)
  • Subtitles to all videos

Options like search within video and local language translations are some of the upcoming features.

Disciplines offered

There are approximately 750 courses in various disciplines currently being offered across Engineering, Sciences, Technology, Management and Humanities. Some of these disciplines are mentioned in the table below:

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Biotechnology
  • Atmospheric Science     
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Basic courses    
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Civil Engineering              
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science and Engineering        
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering    
  • Metallurgy and Material Science
  • Electronics and Communication Engineering       
  • Mining Engineering
  • Engineering Design        
  • Nanotechnology
  • Environmental Engineering        
  • Ocean Engineering
  • General Physics
  • Humanities and Social Science   
  • Textile Engineering
  • Management   

Access to courses

The courseware provided online by NPTEL is free and one can access the course through the below mentioned methods:

  • The official NPTEL website http://nptel.ac.in. The videos on the official site can be downloaded in MP4, FLV and 3gp formats.
  • As video streams on demand through YouTube http://www.youtube.com/iit. They can be downloaded using any browser add-ons.
  • Institutions can also provide hard disks and receive copies of these courses free of cost at the NPTEL office, IIT Madras.
  • The lessons are also broadcast through the Eklavya channel by Gyan Darshan (Door Darshan Television, Govt. of India enterprise).

Students who are unable to download lectures due to bandwidth constraints can purchase the video courses in DVDs from BodhBridge Educational Services Private Limited, Chennai, by paying a nominal fee that covers the cost of 2 DVDs and shipment logistics.

Participating Institutions

  • Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (coordinating Institute)
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee
  • Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

The content being devised by National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning is already being put to use by the educational institutions as a part of their teaching process. Not only that, the content devised is used as teaching aid to help evolve the teaching-learning process. Students are also using the NPTEL content to prepare for technical jobs and competitive exams. Also, it is being used as a platform for constant learning and updating knowledge for the ever-changing environment and market realities.