The Live Webcast project at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay provides web based distance education solution for engineering aspirants and benefits those living in remote areas
By Rahul Deshmukh
The live webcast course at Center of Distance Education Programme (CDEEP) IIT Bombay has been started with the objective of providing quality education in the field of science and engineering, to any willing individual, free of cost. Live webcast courses are ideally suited for individualised learning. They seek to benefit all those who live in remote areas, and those who want to update their knowledge. With the spread of the virtual classroom, CDEEP is proving that distance is no longer an obstacle to learning. The project provides web based distance education solution for those wanting to pursue an engineering degree.
Why Distance Education?
About 500,000 students enroll in engineering studies in India every year at the undergraduate level which is only 2.5% of the age group. Although only a select group studies engineering, according to McKinsey report, only 25% of the engineering graduates of India are employable. The main reason for this state of affairs is deficiency of quality faculty in the engineering colleges of India. Because of this dismal state, not many students with a Bachelor's degree in engineering are ready to go for higher studies. Moreover, less than 1% of them can hope to enroll in Masters programs. This has resulted in a big shortage of Masters and Ph.D graduates in India.Also, out of the astounding number of students who throng to give the engineering entrance exams, only 1% of the aspirants succeed in getting admitted to the IITs.
Major structural changes are required in order to solve the creases facing engineering education in India. Distance education and the internet are the tool though which effective transformation of the situation can be brought about.
Live Webcast Course
IIT Bombay has been active in distance education for the past eight years with the satellite transmission. In January 2008, IIT Bombay signed a MoU with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to transmit its courses, free and unencrypted, through the satellite EDUSAT. In return, ISRO has agreed to provide free bandwidth. Any institution that has a student interactive terminal (SIT) May receive the courses free of cost, but May not record them without IITB's explicit approval.
The project is basically designed to target the individual as an audience called “SOLO mode”. It intends to give complete time flexibility through the video on demand service. It also provides off line interactivity through the learning management system.
With the spread of the virtual classroom, CDEEP is proving that distance is no longer an obstacle to learning. The project provides web based distance education solution for those wanting to pursue an engineering degree
Looking in to the cost and availability of bandwidth in India and to minimise the cost per view, streaming was done on 100kbps so that the common user with 128kbps dialup/broadband connectivity can also participate in the program. With internet being used as the tool for communication, the project has a global reach. The project has also transmitted courses from virtual sets with the best presentation tool like ticker, document camera, presentation, presenter and edutainment concept. The learning management system gives a platform to the external student to interact with the faculty and other fellow students through discussion forum and chat. All the presentations, class notes, assignments, question paper and sample solutions are made available on LMS. Video on Demand provides the time flexibility for reruns and for better understanding.
The Pilot Phase
The project started with a pilot of 600 students and 32 faculties of different engineering colleges from the state of Gujarat. Five courses were beamed in the pilot phase. Till date more than 100 courses are transmitted on live webcast of different disciplines of science and engineering from IIT Bombay.
The project has more than one lakh beneficiaries including students, faculty, working professionals, researchers and individuals. The Government College of Engineering Poona (COEP) has accepted the courses of CDEEP IIT Bombay as plug in replacement for their regular courses.It has also attracted international participation from countries like USA, UK, Australia, Japan, China, France, Norway, Pakistan, UAE etc. Apart from the educational institutes and individuals, corporate like Wipro Ltd., Persistent, Tech Mahindra Ltd. have used the courses for quality improvement and as refresher courses for their employees. The same service is also being used by the Ministry of Human Resource Development for their teacher training programs.