Now, classrooms in your pocket

The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) is exploring the advantages of 3G (third generation) mobile services in delivering education to the nook and corner of the country.

On October 29, the university signed a MoU with Ericsson India Pvt. Ltd. (EIL), an Indian chapter of the Swedish multinational firm Ericsson, to start application of this facility. Students of IGNOU will soon get 3G mobile services at nominal rates.

It will be only Rs.20 or Rs.25 more than what they are paying for the normal admissions. Vice-Chancellor V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai told The Hindu EducationPlus: “This MoU is aimed at the effective use of facilities supported by 3G mobile services in open and distance education. It is a state-of-the-art technology being used to connect the remote area learners.”

Pointing out that the common SMS is already being used in course management through alert services, Prof. Pillai said that students will be supported with access to parts of the course web pages, downloading assignments and video clips with the introduction of the 3G services.

Edge over others

K.R. Srivathsan, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the university, who is spearheading the project, said that it is not distance education alone which will be the beneficiary of the 3G mobile services. “The 3G technology ensures both web-mentoring and web-proctoring. Web-mentoring is studying through the 3G chip, consulting with counsellors and engaging in peer-to-peer discussions. Web-proctoring is more expert-driven. It means only the experts and researchers can participate to effect better application modules. Web-proctoring ensures not only two-way audio and video interaction but also delivery of classroom discussion or a seminar in a three-party module.”

Giving an example of a student using sign language, Prof. Srivathsan said that the candidate could take his/her classes through the mobile screen of the 3G model of mobile telephony.

Explaining the student profile, Prof. Pillai stressed the heterogeneity of the communities of IGNOU.

No financial burden

Dispelling doubts that the technology will be a financial burden for the student community, Prof. Pillai said that the university students earn and learn in most cases.

“They can provide for the 3G mobile services. Even then, from this collaboration we will charge them hardly Rs. 20 or Rs. 25. The real cost is likely to be from TRAI and other service providers.”

Elaborating on the agreement with IGNOU, Ericsson India president Gowton Achaibar said that Ericsson and IGNOU will create an ecosystem for the 3G mobile technology applied in education.

At present IGNOU disseminates education to over eight million through Edusat-mediate beams of DTH services.


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