Growth from last year
Ramkrishna Pasumarthy, coordinator, NPTEL, IIT Madras reveals the growth in registrations from July 2021 to January 2022 SWAYAM sessions at the NPTEL centre. “July 2021 saw 17.2 lakh student enrolment, which increased to 21.62 lakh in January 2022. Exam registrations rose from 2.53 lakh for the July 2021 semester to 3.69 lakh for the January 2022 semester. The number of courses on offer also increased from 524 (July 2021) to 593 (January 2022),” he says.
Pasumarthy also reveals the topmost courses and states with maximum registrations in these courses. “The most popular course are Introduction to the Internet of Things (Andhra Pradesh (AP) – 23,292, Tamil Nadu (TN) – 22,873 and Uttar Pradesh (UP) – 16,976); Developing Soft Skills and Personality (UP – 13,064, TN – 16,394, and West Bengal (WB) – 4,230) and The Joy of Computing using Python (AP – 10,486, Telangana – 7,098, and WB – 6,005),” he says.
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Challenges and solutions
While Pasumarthy considers digital divide and language barriers as the two biggest challenges facing SWAYAM courses, Anil Sahasrabudhe, chairman, AICTE, says otherwise. “The government is working to expand the digital scope from 2.5 lakh villages to all six lakh villages soon. Further, we have already translated most available study material to 11 languages, including Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Assamese, Odia, and Punjabi,” he says. For video lectures, subtitles in these languages are being made available, says Pasumarthy.
AK Bakshi, director, Institute of Lifelong Learning, University of Delhi, says, “Many students take up a free course to enhance their learning of one particular module. “Generally, for one semester, any course is of four credits with around 35-40 modules that can be completed in around 15 weeks. Once candidates achieve their aim of learning a particular concept/module, they may give it up, which leads to the disparity between enrolment and exam registration.”
Improving the quality of the courses with the introduction of an accreditation body that enables teachers to constantly upgrade the courses to make them suitable for the changing professional environment is key, says Bakshi. “The implementation of the credit transfer system will also lead to a massive change in this scenario,” he adds.
With the AICTE mandate to include SWAYAM courses in the credit transfer system, there is a big push to include more Humanities and Arts courses to the SWAYAM portal, says Pasumarthy. “Up until now, we had a total of 66/592 (11%) courses from Humanities and Social Sciences stream, which needs to change,” he says.
Saharabudhe adds that slowly students are understanding the benefits of opting for SWAYAM online courses. “While currently, major focus is on technical courses, which is also being opted by few colleges. Gradually, students will act as enablers to introduce more Humanities courses to the SWAYAM ecosystem and we should see a change in the next few years.”