The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) is creating what will become the world’s largest video repository of lecture course content in engineering and science. I stumbled on one of their video courses on Satellite Communication some few weeks ago as I was searching for some information for a paper which I am writing.
NPTEL was initiated by seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras and Roorkee) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc). The objective of NPTEL is to provide open course materials for engineering and science students and teachers freely. This is similar to the objective of the Open courseware project by the MIT which makes available course materials by professors of MIT freely to the rest of the world. But the NPTEL approach is tailored for the Indian situation in that it is directed towards providing learning materials in Science and Engineering by adhering to the syllabi of All India Council for Technical Education and the slightly modified curricula of major affiliating Universities. Developing countries, such as Malawi, can also customize these courses to their own circumstances. They may wish to get in touch with NPTEL to learn one lesson or two.
NPTEL intends to build a course-specific web space for each course where students, teachers and other users anywhere in India and outside would be encouraged to create threaded discussions. It is said that direct interaction among students all over the world and teachers would be encouraged through a bulletin-board approach/threaded discussions with the help of moderators who would be appointed for this purpose. The purpose is to eventually build a digital library for each subject which will include a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for the section.
Phase I of the programme was completed recently. Course materials have been developed for approximately 125 web courses and are accessible freely through the NPTEL website. The video content, composed of 110 video (approximately 4500 hours) lecture courses, is available in MPEG-4 format with a bit-rate of 512 kbps with H.264 compression for streaming through the Internet. They are accessible freely through the YouTube channel. Google Inc. has offered NPTEL free bandwidth for hosting this channel. In phase II, NPTEL will create about 400 video lecture courses (with about 16000 hours of lectures). In addition, IITs have large repositories of video lectures prepared already from their own efforts outside of NPTEL and these are also being made available as free and open educational resources for all. When this is completed, it is reported that it will become the largest video repository of technical lecture-courses in the world in the streaming video format and will be helpful to everyone who is interested in enhancing his/her learning.
Any one who has a connection to internet can access the contents freely and without any registration to the website. For viewing video lectures which are streamed with the help of YouTube, broadband connectivity is a must. However, if your connectivity is limited or you do not have broadband and if you want to get the lectures in DVD media from them, you need to pay a fee per course.