To strike a balance between fund constraint and expansion, the country’s national distance education provider, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), has ended its teleconferencing for students and free distance online course material.
India’s only education channel Gyan Darshan, anchored in IGNOU, has stopped broadcast for the first time since its launch in 2000.
IGNOU has blamed the HRD ministry for the abrupt disruption. “We have been told that the license will be renewed soon and the broadcast will resume,” said a senior IGNOU official.
The university’s popular teleconferencing programme helped students, in far-off districts, to get tutorials from experts at IGNOU. University vice-chancellor Mohammad Aslam said the teleconferencing had been replaced by “modern” and “better” web-based conferencing where students could seek replies to their questions at a designated time. However, IGNOU officials say that web conferencing was not working as many regions did not have good broadband connection.
Another popular on-line education tool, the e-gyankosh, has been dysfunctional for the past month as the university has not updated any content on the web portal. The virtual classrooms on IGNOU’s web portal has also been dysfunctional for some time.
University insiders say that portal-based education was very popular with students pursuing distance education courses from IGNOU and other universities in India. “As the university is considered a leader in distance education, its content is superior to that of the state distance education providers,” a university official said.
Aslam said the university has to judiciously use its resources as the courses are not subsidised.