NPTEL is an acronym for “National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning” which is an initiative by seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras and Roorkee) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) for creating course contents in engineering and science. NPTEL as a project originated from many deliberations between IITs, Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) during the years 1999-2003. A proposal was jointly put forward by five IITs (Bombay, Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Madras) and IISc for creating contents for 100 courses as web based supplements and 100 complete video courses, for forty hours of duration per course. Web supplements were expected to cover materials that could be delivered in approximately forty hours. Five engineering branches (Civil, Computer Science, Electrical, Electronics and Communication and Mechanical) and core science programmes that all engineering students are required to take in their undergraduate engineering programme in India were chosen initially. Contents for the above courses were based on the model curriculum suggested by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the syllabi of major affiliating Universities in India.
The basic objective of science and engineering education in India is to devise and guide reforms that will transform India into a strong and vibrant knowledge economy. In this context, the focus areas for NPTEL project have been i) higher education, ii) professional education, iii) distance education and iv) continuous and open learning, roughly in that order of preference.
Manpower requirement for trained engineers and technologists is far more than the number of qualified graduates that Indian technical institutions can provide currently. Among these, the number of institutions having fully qualified and trained teachers in all disciplines being taught forms a small fraction. A majority of teachers are young and inexperienced and are undergraduate degree holders. Therefore, it is important for institutions like IITs, IISc, NITs and other leading Universities in India to disseminate teaching/learning content of high quality through all available media. NPTEL would be among the foremost and an important step in this direction and will use technology for dissemination.
India needs many more teachers for effective implementation of higher education in professional courses. Therefore, methods for training young and inexperienced teachers to enable them carry out their academic responsibilities effectively are a must. NPTEL contents can be used as core curriculum content for training purposes.
A large number of students who are unable to attend scholarly institutions through NPTEL will have access to quality content from them.
All those who are gainfully employed in industries and all other walks of life and who require continuous training and updating their knowledge can benefit from well-developed and peer-reviewed course contents by the IITs and IISc.