The greatness of any nation depends largely on the system of education that is used to nurture its talent from within. With the digital era taking the spotlight, and the world rapidly reforming into a global village, it is now quintessential that a spirit of healthy competitiveness be inculcated in the budding minds of this country. While trying to remodel and upgrade the education system, a key issue is that of quality of education processes in the country. Needs and expectations of the society are changing very fast and the quality of higher education requires to be sustained at the desired level. The use of internet for educational purposes has increased many folds among Indian youths. Online video lectures and e-books are the emerging trends among learners. The birth of high speed internet access and its availability on recently evolved smart phones has opened several new avenues for learning. The growing popularity of these smart phones among the youth can potentially revolutionize the way we learn. The introduction of 3G technology is already being pinned as the next big thing in the mobile internet revolution.
Role of Web in Education in Indian Education Technology
The sharp rise in the number of literate youth, the expansion of higher education as a field, the reduction of telecom call rates, the rise in consumer income and the socio-economic changes have increased the demand for internet sharply in the past decade in India. The World Wide Web is host to an ever expanding information explosion. In the absence of quality teachers and enriched libraries, the students demand for surfing the internet for educational purposes has seen a sharp rise. Several institutions have started to provide online study material through their websites. Use of internet in education has a potential to revolutionize the way we live our lives, and the effects have already started making themselves visible .There were around 81 million internet users in India in 2010- a number that will triple by 2015to 237 million . According to a research conducted by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the School and College students contributed 44% whereas the young men (21-35 years) contributed 28% of the Internet usage in 2009 in India. The same report reveals that a total of 65% searches were made to collect educational information on the web in 2009 and Internet usage has gone up from 9.3 hours/ week in 2008 to 15.7 hours/week in 2009. India is experiencing an age of transformation in the field of higher education these days. The availability of qualified and quality instructors is essential to ensure the development of Human Capital that caters to the demands of both Industry and Academia. In today’s liberalized environment, Government is in earnest need to make the higher education scenario globally competitive. In order to achieve the goal of quality and excellence in higher education, the Ministry Of Human Resources Development, Government of India launched the “National Program on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL)” in the year 2003. The aim of the NPTEL is to develop curriculum based video lectures and web courses to enhance the quality of engineering education in India. The course videos are available in streaming mode and may also be downloaded for viewing offline. The video files are available via the IIT channel in Youtube. Seven IIT’s and Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc) have worked together to develop web and video based material. Around 110 video lectures (Approximately 4500 hours) courses were available at the end of phase I. There will be around 400 video (Approximately 16000 hours) lecture courses at the end of phase II. Unlike phase I which offered only undergraduate courses, phase II will see post-graduate courses being offered in 5 out of the 20 disciplines.
Impact of Smart Phone on Distance Learning
NPTEL is one of the best examples in this direction. Use of Internet has become a part of life of every student. These days, use of mobile phones for internet purposes has become a habit with all students. According to Vinay Goel, head of products, Google India, a total of 40 million users access the internet through mobile phones in India. He further estimates that by 2012, the number of mobile internet users will surpass those entering the net via their laptops or desktops. It has been observed that 55% of the mobile only are the students in India. Fixed-line Internet is being completely bypassed by these mobile users and it is also an exciting time for content owners and brands to interact with their customers.
According to Scott Steinberg editor Digital Trends-“A smart phone is essentially a computer in your pocket. It is a cellular phone that does more than just make calls to the point that it can actually serve as a functional laptop or desktop replacement”.
Market Potential of Smart Phones
• Today’s information workers demand the flexibility to balance work, home and leisure. The smart phones enable them to lead the 21st century lifestyle.
• These days’ smart phones are being used primarily by consumers in the youth segment who love to access the web, interact through virtual social networks, receive and compose e-mail instantly, check the news and even use utilities such as the GPS navigation as a lifestyle choice.
• Wi-Fi connectivity helps to connect the internet via the hotspots when users are at the airport or other important public places. HD video player allows watching movies with high clarity.
• The popularity of smart phones has created a wave in development of mobile friendly websites. More than 100 million people actively use Facebook from their mobile devices every month  whereas mobile browser opera mini has more than 90 million users.
• Just a few years back, smart phones were more of a status symbol, but now they have become a must-have productivity aid, literally carrying a lot of information all in pocket.
3G is Ready to Accelerate
In 2008, India entered the 3G arena when Government owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) launched its 3G enabled mobile and data services. Later Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) also launched its services in Delhi and Mumbai. The private sector service providers such as Tata Docomo, Reliance Communications, Airtel, and Vodafone have also launched its 3G services. 3G is the next generation of mobile communication system. It enhances services such as multimedia, high speed mobile broadband, thus equipping the average mobile user with the ability to watch live TV on his/her mobile handset. One can also enjoy services such as live streaming, download of videos for educational or leisure purposes, news, current affairs and sport content and video messaging all in addition to the usual voice calling facility. Practically mobile users are all set to get a broadband experience with speeds better than 384 KBPS. The connectivity speed can easily be compared to those of the wire line broadband.
Conclusion and Future Scope
Globalization and technology related developments are ‘change drivers’ that have significantly re-shaped the landscape of the higher education. New missions and responsibilities assigned by governments in pursuit of national ‘wealth creation’ and international competitiveness, shrinking public funds, increased need for flexible, lifelong learning arising from the changed nature of work, new learning paradigms and the entry of technology-based new educational providers have had far-reaching effects on higher education. The impact of the changes in open and distance education institutions are also profound. The difference between traditional universities and distance education institutions has disappeared. The need for lifelong learning and rapid developments in ICT have led many traditional universities to become involved with online delivery, and the commercial potential has attracted many new technology-oriented private as well as public providers. Mobile learning may be used to access the educational opportunities to different segments of the society where distance or other obstacles present a barrier to accessing formal learning centers and to enhance the quality of learning and continued professional development.
About Author – ” Gaurav Pateriya is an Engineer & Part-Time blogger but written many paid blog-post and articles for various blogs &
clients. I also run a blog, Check out more at ‘www.branchtech.blogspot.in‘”