As the HRD Ministry carries on with its efforts to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown and provide students with continued access to learning during this period, e-learning in the country has witnessed an appreciable upsurge during the past two weeks. Union HRD Minister Shri Ramesh PokhriyalNishank has been in regular touch with heads of institutions through video conferencing, giving necessary guidance and directions, and receiving feedback in this regard.
Both schools and higher education institutions have started various modes of online classes and sharing of study material depending on the resources available with them and with the students. These range from structured online classes through platforms like Skype, Zoom, Google Classroom, Google Hangout, Piazza to teachers uploading lectures and class notes through YouTube, WhatsApp, sharing links of digital learning resources like SWAYAM, NPTEL, providing access to online journals.
About 50-65 percent of students in HE institutions like Central Universities, IITs, IIITs, NITs, IISERs are participating in some form of e-learning. Lack of internet connectivity and other required digital infrastructure with students is proving to be an impediment to e-learning in many cases. To overcome this problem to some extent, teachers are also sharing slides or hand written notes apart from recorded lectures and live sessions so that students with uncertain network access can also get at least some material. Recorded lectures ensure that a short term problem with network access does not block out a student. Faculty members are doing online chat sessions with students to answer any queries that they may have.
The various e-learning platforms of the HRD Ministry have seen an unprecedented combined access of over 1.4 crore since 23rd March 2020. The National Online Education Platform SWAYAM has been accessed nearly 2.5 lakh times till yesterday, which is about a five time increase over the figure of 50,000 strikes in the last week of March. This is in addition to about 26 lakh learners already enrolled in the 574 courses available on the SWAYAM platform. Likewise, nearly 59000 people are viewing the videos of the SWAYAM Prabha DTH TV channels every day, and more than 6.8 lakh people have watched these since the lockdown began.
Similar is the case with the other digital initiatives of the Ministry and organizations under it.The National Digital Library was accessed about 1,60,804 times in just one day yesterday, and about 14,51,886 times during the lockdown period, as against about 22000 daily strikes earlier. The Education portals of NCERT like DIKSHA, e-pathasala, National Repository of Open Educational Resources, Senior Secondary Courses of NIOS, NPTEL, NEAT, AICTE Student-College helpline webportal, AICTE Training and Learning(ATAL), IGNOU Courses, UGC MOOCS courses, Shodhganga, ShodhShuddhi, VIDWAN, e-PG Pathshala, and the other ICT initiatives like Robotics education (e-Yantra), Open Source Software for Education (FOSSEE), Virtual experiments (Virtual Labs) and Learning programming (Spoken tutorial) are also experiencing very large access rates.
Shri Pokhriyalsaid that for a large number of students who do not have access to computer and internet, the Ministry is promoting learning through the television. He further said that the SWAYAM PRABHA group of 32 DTH channels is devoted to telecasting of high-quality educational programmes on 24X7 basis using the GSAT-15 satellite and the contents are provided by NPTEL, IITs, UGC, CEC, IGNOU, NCERT and NIOS. Similarly, IGNOU’s Gyan Vani (105.6 FM Radio) and GyanDarshan, which is a 24-hour educational channel offering the best of educational programmes for pre-school, primary, secondary and higher secondary students, college/university students, youth seeking career opportunities, homemakers and working professionals. The Minister urged students to also make optimum use of these channels to supplement their learning.