The National eGovernance Division (NeGD) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is set to integrate Personalised Adaptive Learning (PAL) into its existing Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA) platform. PAL’s software-based approach will allow each student to have an individualised learning experience over the course of the curriculum based on their unique needs and abilities.
DIKSHA, which comes under the Ministry of Education, provides e-content for schools via an online portal and a mobile application. It also has embedded assistive technologies for learners with visual or hearing impairments. However, DIKSHA is a static content repository.
DIKSHA features digitised National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks used national and State Boards. Apart from this, DIKSHA hosts 2.43 lakh contributions by 11,624 academicians by way of teaching videos, explainers, and practice questions. Currently, all these contributions are scattered across the platform.
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has sought the MeitY’s expertise in facilitating PAL for DIKSHA. In an example of how PAL works, if a student of Class 9 is learning the Pythagoras theorem and makes a calculation mistake, the AI learning system flags it and loops the student back to a basic video of how to make the calculation.
In some States, private players are already administering PAL, which works on AI or Artificial Intelligence, but budget constraints have been an obstacle.
Building PAL is a massive exercise. Content from across subjects will have to be categorised and different chunks will have to be tagged. New content may also have to be created. “Tagging of content is important to create learning loops, where, say, a student faces difficulty at a certain tag, then supportive material offering an explanation of the tagged concept can be provided,” a senior MeitY official told The Hindu.
The official added that school students found Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics for Classes 9 to 12 to be the most difficult subjects, and the intention is to start building PAL for these classes to begin with.
With about 35 lakh students dropping out in Class 10 and ineligible to qualify for Class 11 every year, the Ministry of Education wants to adopt digital learning with a focus on improving learning outcomes and school retention.
Experiments in States
Andhra Pradesh has signed contracts with three privately owned edtech companies — Reliance Jio Platform’s start-up Embibe, ConveGenius, and Mindspark — for training teachers to use IT applications in the classroom, provide analytics for remedial learning, and help students improve their conceptual understanding. “We are currently implementing PAL in 20 schools of Prakasam district for Classes 6 to 9,” a senior Jio Platforms official said.
“Building the core tech platform may cost close to ₹2-3 crore, and then developing and tagging of content will cost another ₹20 crore. The streaming costs incurred for data stored in cloud-based servers is recurring and depends on the usage. If, say, 40 crore school-going students in India stream data for two hours in a day or a week, the costs will run into several hundred crores,” the MeitY official added.
In Assam, for instance, PAL was adapted in 200 schools from Classes 6 to 10. Each school had nearly 200 students, and Embibe provided 10 devices per school. “After implementing the project for two years, Assam discontinued it, citing lack of funds,” the Jio official said.
Similarly, in Haryana, after floating the tender, the State government said Embibe’s quote for streaming content was too high, and the process of adopting PAL came to a standstill. “For implementing the PAL project in the whole State, we had estimated a yearly streaming cost of ₹27 crore, considering on an average one child in a week sees four videos of 15 minutes on the platform. This cost was felt to be very high by the government,” the Jio official said.
Poll-bound State Madhya Pradesh, too, is mulling over introducing PAL for students from Classes 6 to 10 on its flagship State education portal, the CM-RISE.
Apart from PAL, MeitY is also considering the introduction of voice commands in DIKSHA 2.0 as a part of AI-enabled learning. “Just like ChatGPT, the student can access summaries of chapters by giving voice commands and so on,” the MeitY official said.
“The process of making PAL is time consuming and it will still take three to four years to develop the tech and roll it out for use,” the source added.
The NeGD will float an Expression of Interest to assess the market for edtech companies that can help launch PAL and possibly integrate it with DIKSHA 2.0.