Getting into an IIT is a dream of many students. Every year, lakhs of students attempt JEE Main, but only a few make it to an IIT. Keeping such students in mind, the NPTEL project was launched in 2003. The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) is a joint initiative of the IITs and IISc Bengaluru supported by the Ministry of Education, Government of India. It offers online certification courses for students and working professionals free of cost.
Shiksha talks to Prof Andrew Thangaraj, Coordinator, SWAYAM-NPTEL, IIT Madras, to understand the significance and popularity of NPTEL courses. Read the full interview below:
Q. How many NPTEL courses are offered by IITM?
A. IITM has offered 550 courses through NPTEL till date. Learners canenrolfor NPTEL courses offered through SWAYAM platform for free. It is now possible for anyone outside the IIT system to be able to do an online certification course from NPTEL and get a certificate from the IITs. IITs are taking the high quality education to the homes of people through this initiative.
Q. What is the eligibility, duration and fee for NPTEL courses?
A. NPTEL courses are open for everyone from any educational background. These courses are being offered completely free of cost by NPTEL. Age has never been a barrier for learners who are passionate to learn. Learners spanning ages from 13 to 86 years can take up NPTEL certification. NPTEL currently offers courses of 4 weeks, 8 weeks and 12 weeks duration. Learners who are interested to get a course certificate from the institute will have to attend an in-person proctored exam. There is a nominal fee of Rs 1,000, which is charged towards the optional in-person proctored exam for the certification. Learners who are interested in getting a certificate from the IITs or IISc are generally registering for it.
Q. Which is the most sought-after NPTEL course? How many students are enrolled in that course?
A. A list of popular NPTEL courses from IIT Madras is given below:
|Course Name||Enrolment (including multiple runs)|
|Python for Data Science||1,72,778|
|Introduction to Machine Learning||1,50,015|
|Technical English for Engineers||67,741|
|Non-Conventional Energy Resources||65,499|
|Introduction to Research||60,956|
Also, NPTEL has received more than 1.25 crore enrolments (for courses offered by various institutes) till date. We have received 16.8 lakh enrolments for the January-May 2021 semester and 2.6 lakh learners have registered for in-person proctored exams.
Q. What was the first NPTEL course offered at IITM and when? How was the response?
A. Programming, Data Structures and Algorithms was the first NPTEL certification course offered by IITM in 2014. NPTEL was the first platform to offer a course in MOOCs format in India. We received a very good response with 50,000+ course enrolments and 1,000+ registrations for the in-person proctored exam.
NPTEL was actually initiated in 2003 by seven IITs (Bombay, Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras, Guwahati and Roorkee) and IISc Bangalore to provide quality education to anyone interested in learning from the IITs. NPTEL was creating courses in web and video format till it launched the certification courses in MOOCs format in 2014. NPTEL videos have received more than one billion views so far and NPTEL channels on YouTube have more than 3.1 million subscribers.
Q. How relevant/successful are these courses when it comes to employment?
A. NPTEL currently works closely with more than 4,000 colleges in engineering, arts, commerce, science and management disciplines across the country. Seventy-five per cent to 80 per cent of the enrolment happens through our NPTEL local chapters. We found that students find value in taking NPTEL courses since the certification is offered by the IITs if they clear an in-person proctored exam.
In a survey conducted by NPTEL with the colleges to understand the impact of NPTEL courses on employability, 82.9 per cent of the colleges mentioned that NPTEL courses had a positive impact and that the students who took up these courses gained confidence to attend and clear technical interviews or technical assessments. NPTEL also recognises active learners who have effectively used NPTEL courses as NPTEL stars. NPTEL has started providing free soft skills training to the course toppers and NPTEL stars. This will help in their preparation for job interviews. As part of soft skills training, NPTEL conducts employability assessment, online mock interviews, online interactive and live video sessions and gives personalised feedback to the students on areas for improvement in the context of employment.
Q. What is domain certification? Is it different from a certificate of completion?
A. In order to streamline the efforts of learners and to guide them to obtain expertise in an area, NPTEL has initiated the idea of ‘Domain Certification.’ A domain comprises a set ofcoreand elective NPTEL courses. Those who complete a domain (specified core courses + elective courses) with an average score of 60 will get a domain certificate from NPTEL. There are no additional charges/fees involved in obtaining domain certification. There are 51 domains across 12 disciplines available now and more are in the pipeline.
Q. How many students have completed NPTEL courses from IITM so far?
A. A total of 1,12,137 learners have been certified from IIT Madras through NPTEL till December 2020. These learners include students, faculty and working professionals.
Q. Are teachers recruited from outside the institute or the existing staff is roped in for these courses?
A. All courses are offered by the faculty of IIT Madras. In a few courses, our faculty members collaborate with industry experts or faculty members from other institutions.
Q. IIT Madras is offering a free online course on Artificial Intelligence in association with NPTEL. How is it going to benefit learners?
A. Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans. This course aims to give more insights on how an autonomous agent can behave in an intelligent manner to be able to solve problems. A wide variety of search methods that autonomous agents can employ for problem solving will be discussed as part of the course. The demand for trained professionals in the area of Artificial Intelligence is also growing. This course will definitely help students to build their fundamentals in the area of AI.