ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Use of Technology in Engineering Education

Exploring the Indian Experience

Using the functions of an innovations systems approach, the use of the satellite and the Internet in engineering education is compared, by analysing the experience of Indian Institute of Technology Bombay’s distance education network and the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning. Theiit Bombay network was unable to provide connectivity quickly enough for rapidly growing demand.nptel has been able to cater to the huge demand for quality content. A policy intervention that aims to use technology for better delivery of services should keep in focus the capabilities of the actors involved, and strive for mechanisms based on the opportunities and incentives of these actors.

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Knowledge Forum 10th Annual Conference on “Technology, Growth and Sustainability,” coorganised by the Indian National Academy of Engineering, and hosted by the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru, 27–28 November 2015.

In today’s world, engineering is an intrinsic part of almost every economy in the globe. There are very few sectors in the economy that are not enabled by engineering. The backbone of such a successful engineering activity is undoubtedly the nation’s system of engineering education. However, in the Indian case, there are a number of issues that have plagued the system of engineering education. The key issue that has had an impact on the system is the lack of qualified faculty. In most of the thousands of engineering colleges that dot the nation, inexperienced and undergraduate degree holders are appointed as lecturers, which amplifies the gap between the desired level and current level of expertise available among faculty. The tiny elite sector in the system, comprising mainly the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), seems to be less affected by this gap. The rest of the sector, much of which comprises privately run engineering colleges, has been responsible for the rapid growth in engineering education and hence educates a vast majority of Indian engineers (Walsh 2011). A majority of these fresh engineers, who experience this combination of a lack of quality faculty and subpar private engineering colleges, have already been labelled “unemployable” by the major employer in India, the software industry.

This problem has been recognised by the Government of India and steps are being taken not only by the concerned departments, but also by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the IITs. In September 2004, ISRO launched an educational satellite, EduSat, built exclusively for the educational sector. Institutes like the IIT Bombay have used EduSat to enhance their distance education programme. During the same time, the IITs and the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru (IISc) put forward a joint proposal to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to create content for a hundred courses as web-based supplements to be distributed through the internet. Thus, the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) initiative was born, which created complete, free and open online courseware for engineering, science, and management subjects. This initiative has been used to train teachers in Indian technical institutions, to help improve the overall quality of technical and professional education, and the employability of Indian graduates. As one would expect, the impact of these efforts of using technology in engineering education has been varied. When we say impact, we imply only the reach of the effort and how many users have been and continue to access the effort. We do not intend to comment on the quality1 of the content as well as the quality of absorption among the users, as these are very complex to measure.

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Updated On : 17th Nov, 2017
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