When the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) was founded in 1985 as a modest institution to promote distance education, there was no Internet. But it has reaped in a big way the technological whirlwind that expanded across the world over the next two decades.
For the institution that serves more than 18 lakh students in India and 32 overseas countries through 21 schools, 58 regional centres and 1,804 study centres, digital media technologies are a big boon.
Satellite-based direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting, online education, video-conferencing, FM radio – IGNOU uses all these means to reach across to students, who can also look forward to taking their examinations online in the coming months.
These e-education initiatives have helped IGNOU win the Manthan Award this year for initiatives that make innovative use of information technology for public benefit.
IGNOU is creating an online digital repository of course materials. These and question papers can be downloaded from the Internet. “About 95 per cent of our existing course material has already been digitised and put online,” said Uma Kanjilal,
director, School of Social sciences, IGNOU.
IGNOU has also graduated from tele-learning to more interactive video-conferencing that helps two-way voice exchange between students and teachers.
“We are in the process of implementing more technology to make IGNOU more accessible to students and we plan to introduce online examination also in future,” said said Rakesh Sharma of IGNOU.
IGNOU is providing the infrastructure with funding from the Ministry of Human Resources and Development , which extended Rs. 80 crore last year.
IGNOU also offers its content as television broadcast through four channels under the Gyandarshan brand since 2001.
The channels are free-to-air, which means a user does not need to pay to watch them.