CLOSING THE GAP IN INDIA:
THE NATIONAL PROGRAMME ON
TECHNOLOGY ENHANCED LEARNING
India’s National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) is a large-scale, freely available online educational effort, the product of a partnership between government and higher education with a mandate to serve the nation. Launched with funding from the Indian government and executed by seven of the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), NPTEL responds to a specific problem in Indian higher education: the widening gap in quality and resources between top universities like the IITs and the remainder of the country’s engineering education system.1
NPTEL was conceived in 1999, and funding for the project’s first phase became available in 2003. Phase I—which saw the establishment of the project’s leadership and committee structure, as well as the creation of courseware related to several hundred IIT courses—was completed in June 2007, and the second phase— which will focus more on publicity and evaluation, in addition to creating new content—is proceeding from mid-2009 to 2012.
With over 250 web and video courses and more in development, NPTEL’s extensive offerings are rivaled in scale by few other
1When the NPTEL project was founded, there were seven IITs; eight new ones were established in 2008. Just one testament to the prestige of these institutions is the fact that two of them (IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi) were the only Indian universities to be included in the 2009 Times Higher Education Supplement international rankings of the top 200 universities (“Top 200 World Universities,” Times Higher Education Supplement 2009, online edition, http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/Rankings2009-Top200.html).