For the things, we must learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”
Almost two decades ago, there were plenty of trained software engineers, a significant boom in the IT industry, which led to the construction of IT Parks in India. However, on the other side of this spectrum were people who still had no access to education to help them achieve success then.
The government of Maharashtra believed education was essential. Not just primary, but higher education was the key to a literate nation. Dr Bhatkar, a keen proponent of higher education, a college degree, believed making education available to areas with little or no learning opportunities was the key to progress.
Though urban development was rapid, and India was quickly becoming an IT hub, yet, those living near these parks were not literate. Software engineers trained in India were moving to other countries. The question was “Who would train those residing in India?” Literacy was a vision that would take decades to become a reality.
The Eureka Moment
Computers. Everyone could become literate digitally.
Dr Vijay Bhatkar, Prof. Ram G. Takwale and Vivek Sawant came up with the idea to promote “Digital Literacy”. They believed the macro goal literacy connected to the nation’s policies; digital literacy could be the short-cut to fulfil the goal quickly. The program would need to be taught using computers and by computers -to ensure the quality of e learning in higher education and offer standard certified courses for 21st-century skills across all training centres to make this idea a reality. Providing training on the latest tools and technologies through their medium of language to 15-22-year old’s, whether it was Hindi, English or Marathi was critical.
To give a boost to this idea, the Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited(MKCL) was introduced on 20th August 2001. The idea was to promote a universalization and integration of Information technology in teaching, learning and educational management especially systems and the transformative socio-economic developments as well.
The idea was to offer training through eLearning content that could be pre-packaged in CD’s and sent across to each training centre in Maharashtra at first. To implement this idea, Multiversity was roped to develop eLearning content in 2003.
The Plan of Action
Digital literacy was the mission and to fulfil the goal; we set up a small team of educational content experts, graphic artists and multimedia developers in 2003. The programs were designed to teach the learners everything from switching on a computer to advanced office applications.
eLearning in India had just begun, and customized learning was not even an idea then. The first issue – would a Learner in the village learn from a computer-based tutorial? Another problem was converting classroom training through computer tutorials that were easy to assimilate. Another question that plagued us was a dearth of good trainers, especially in the rural areas.
To make sure that the Learner was enticed to learn from the tutorial, we consulted the best teachers to help us convert classroom teaching principles to eLearning programs. We also decided to localize the content to cater to a diverse audience. To make up for the absence of trained teachers, we hired artists from nearby arts colleges, taught them for six months on tools like Adobe Suite, Sound Editing Tools, Microsoft Office, Open Office, etc. and then got them to develop live tutorials. Of course, as an added measure our courses and programs we designed to self-play offering plenty of assignments for learners, assessments, and knowledge checks to ascertain the student’s progress in a language they understood quickly.
The Impact of Implementation
MKCL eLearning programs offer more than 500 skills today in different industries like IT Concepts and Awareness, Job skills needed today, cyber security skills and more. Multiversity’s eLearning programs are today offered not only in Maharashtra but are also available in Rajasthan, Odisha, Haryana, Bihar, Saudi Arabia and others. Moreover, customized programs and pilots are now run in Malaysia, Sri-Lanka, and Egypt.
The Industry Scenario
eLearning has now become omnipresent. People are more mindful of the marvels it can perform for both instructors and students. While it’s helping to cut down costs and efforts invested for instructors, it is also aiding in the development of quality learning content across the globe. A recent study found eLearning decreases the use of additional frills in learning by 25-55% as compared to standard classroom training.
All the progress achieved in the last few decades has motivated the Maharashtra Government to make MS-CIT programs compulsory and a part of their new syllabi. The growth-rate of self-paced eLearning indicates the revenue opportunities in each country. According to the International Research Journal of Engineering and Technology (IRJET) report, India is at the top with 55 percent growth-rate, while China, Malaysia, Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic follow.
With new technologies like cloud computation, video training, augmented reality-based programs, gamification and more, eLearning in India will advance rapidly making India one of the leading service providers for eLearning content. New initiatives, proactive measures, and increased investments will make customized learning quite popular in the next few years.