Ignou aims at expanding digital learning in Northeast

Rining Lyngdoh

Shillong, Aug. 5: The Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou) is pushing for digital learning of education programmes in the Northeast, including direct-to-home education, through DTH channels despite challenges of poor Internet connectivity.

The effort was highlighted by Ignou vice-chancellor Ravindra Kumar, who today reviewed the education programmes to be undertaken in the Northeast through its newly constituted North East Council of Ignou Regional Centres (NECIRC).

Speaking to reporters here, Kumar spoke on digital learning of various education programmes, including certificate courses, where all study materials will be in digital format. “Currently the study materials are in print format. The target is to make our learners familiar with the digital format and make it interactive for them,” he said.

The Centre has created communication networks, including broadband facilities, for 10 lakh villages in the country and learners in the remote areas can also get access to digital learning.

“The advantage is that this broadband connectivity will be a passage for us. All digital materials will run on this broadband connectivity and our learners in remote areas will also get access. We have also signed a memorandum of understanding with the national e-governance division of the ministry of information technology. This MoU provides entire e-governance materials prepared under the Digital India initiative and nation-wide Internet network free of cost,” Kumar said.

On the challenges in implementing digital learning in the Northeast due to poor Internet connectivity, Kumar said, “We have revived our Gyan Darshan and additional facility of Swayam Prabha initiative of the HRD ministry to access the remotest part of the region.”

Gyan Darshan is a state-owned TV channel that telecasts from Doordarshan. Swayam Prabha is a group of 32 DTH channels that telecast high-quality education programmes on different subjects 24×7, using the GSAT-15 satellite that enables students to access classroom lectures on TV. The telecast on different subjects from different institutions is beamed on 32 DTH channels.

Kumar said Ignou has decided to create 5,000 digital learning centres under the control of its regional directors.

“In Meghalaya, we want to create at least one digital learning centre in every block. In some cases, it will go even below block level. The seating capacity of each centre will be 50 to begin with, which will work round-the-clock. Electricity could be another issue, but wherever it is available a centre will come up,”Kumar said.

On the functioning of Ignou’s NECIRC, he said whatever proposals come from the council, funds will be allocated and the council should make plans and execute them exclusively for the Northeast.

Kumar said of Ignou’s total budget of Rs 500 crore, 20 per cent is meant for the NECIRC, which has been tasked with decision-making on various issues concerning the nine regional centres of the university in the states of the region.

So far, Ignou regional centre, Shillong, is the only one among the nine regional centres to have its own permanent building in the region.

“During the meeting today, the NECIRC discussed various issues, including funds needed by each regional centre in the Northeast. All major decisions taken by the council will be communicated to the regional services division, New Delhi, for necessary action,” Kumar said.

The NECIRC will take decisions on issues such as staff requirements and land acquirement for establishing permanent buildings for all the remaining eight Ignou regional centres in the Northeast.

Ignou also wants to establish at least one regular study centre in each district of the northeastern states.

Ignou’s director (regional services division and registrar materials production and distribution), Venugopal Reddy, said the university aims to set up more study centres so that various educational programmes can be delivered to students.

“At present, we have 200 study centres in the Northeast,” he said.

Of the nine lakh students who are enrolled with Ignou for pursuing distance education courses, 70,000 are from the Northeast.

News Source Telegraph India

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