Three lakh people live in Palash Choudhury’s hometown of Rewa in Madhya Pradesh. But not a single teacher could help Choudhury achieve his dream of being admitted to one of India’s 14 IITs. So, instead of spending a year in Kota ( the Mecca of IIT coaching classes), the 16-year-old turned to Google.
He now logs on to the Internet for four hours every evening, taking instructions from a teacher somewhere in the bylanes of Delhi, while his “classmates” come from Kerala and Manipal.
Turns out, Choudhury had stumbled upon AskIITians.com, one of the many online tutoring websites that now offer small-town students the same quality of education as their metropolitan counterparts.
“The teacher [on the Internet] is 1,000 times better than the ones here,” asserts Choudhury, whose classes comprise listening to his tutor through headphones, and watching problems being solved on an online whiteboard.
There are other models of “virtual learning” too. After accounting for the unpredictability of Indian Internet service providers, education giant Educomp has started an “interactive distance learning” arm.
“With Internet penetration and educational awareness increasing, the online learning industry is set to grow at 100 per cent over the next year,” says Chandan Kumar, founder of Learning Hour, a website that provides online tutorials to secondary school students.