by July 19, 2013 0 comments

Karnataka State Open University was established on 1st June 1996 as a full-fledged University, with the objective of promoting a distance education system in the education pattern of the state as well as the country.

However, the university’s correspondence programs were facing the dual problem of insufficient student engagement and limited reach. The quality of education was also suffering due to lack of innovative learning methodologies, especially in light of the advanced techniques used by private universities. The challenge was to develop a robust and engaging platform for students to interact, learn, share and collaborate with tutors / peers and increase their knowledge capital.

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In addition to that, the University wanted to automate its own internal processes so that students could seamlessly interact with the University.

The Implementation

KSOU collaborated with Schoolguru Eduserve and launched some online courses in March 2012. The robust online platform provided students access to quality content from the best professors across the world.

The platform provided interesting tools such as video lectures, audio lectures, E-quizzes, E-notes and relevant links to learning material on the web. Video lectures gave a classroom feel to students, while blogs and chat forums enabled them to interact with peers. Live chats and webinars also helped students interact with subject matter experts to solve their doubts / queries.

Another bold step that the university took was to include online examinations for these courses. The university setup centers for examination complete with Internet enabled PCs, invigilation and assessment mechanisms. The exams were successfully conducted and results declared in 15 days’ time.

Another innovative addition to the online programs was mobile based learning, wherein students were able to access the entire content on their smartphones offline.

Company Scenario

Before deployment: University’s correspondence programs were facing a dual problem– insufficient student engagement and limited reach. Quality of education was also suffering due to lack of innovative learning methodologies.

What was deployed: A robust online platform that provided students with access to quality content from the best professors across the world. The platform provided audio/video lectures, E-quizzes, E-notes and relevant links to learning material on the web. Live chats and webinars also helped students interact with subject matter experts to solve their doubts / queries. University also conducted online examinations, where students came to a common examination center and took the exams on Internet connected PCs. Another innovative addition was mobile based learning, wherein students were able to access the entire content on their smartphones offline.

After deployment: Student engagement levels increased multi-fold. The retention percentage stands above 85% (as against other ODL programs that have less than 50% retention). From just 20 students in the first batch, the student intake has crossed 500 in the third batch.

Implementation partner: Schoolguru Eduserve Pvt. Ltd.

 

 

 

Challenges Faced

The University faced major resistance while convincing its own Board of Studies to introduce online courses and examinations. The issues of security, proper identification of students and methods of assessment were heavily debated. The University also faced challenges in managing people who were deployed for this project. These people had to be brought out of their inertia and trained to handle the program. On the technical side, the team initially faced the challenge of designing the hardware architecture as the content had to be locally hosted in the universitys’ specialized data center. Cloud based hosting was ruled out due to huge volumes of data (which currently stand at about 15 TB and growing). Moreover, the architecture also had to be fault-tolerant.

Impact of the Deployment

Lots of students from both Karnataka and outside found the programs very relevant and valuable. Students who were frequent travellers found it easier and engaging to access the content from the web. Working professionals, housewives, self-employed people, businessmen and even retired people found the program helpful.

As a result of this implementation, student engagement levels increased multi-fold, resulting in no drop outs semester after semester. Today the retention percentage stands above 85% (as against other ODL programs that have less than 50% retention. Lots of NRI students also found the online examination pattern helpful since they could take it from their resident country and not travel all the way to India for a pen-and-paper pattern exam. From just 20 students in the first batch, the student intake has crossed 500 in the third batch.

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