The Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), previously known as Pune University, is launching its e-learning content and digital classrooms today, reports Indian Express. According to the report, infrastructure will include an interactive whiteboard, a digital podium, Android TV with a touchscreen and internet, document cameras to project live experiments and 3D diagrams.

The e-learning program is a part of 9 other projects from 9 different states, but it is not clear as to what these projects are or when they’ll be launched. E-content modules have been developed within the SPPU’s E-content Learning and Innovation Centre using ‘TED-like’ talks, panel discussions etc. The university claims that it has already created material over 200 hours. A separate link on the university’s website does point out that the university plans to ramp up its syllabus, bring about a credit system and focus on e-learning and distance education.

It is not clear what kind of certification the SPPU is offering to its students under this. Interestingly, for 2015-15, the University Grants Commission does not recognise (pdf) SPPU as a university which provides distance education.

Sikkim Manipal University vs UGC: Meanwhile, the High Court ruled in July 2015 that students who took classes from the distance education provider Sikkim Manipal University (SMU) before 2012 would have valid degrees. This came about after SMU was operating on ambiguity in UGC rules with respect to distance learning in off-campus and offshore study centres of state universities.

Cost of the scheme: The university project will be funded by Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) and cost Rs 4.5 lakh per classroom, the report adds. There will be 29 classrooms at SPPU and they’ll cost Rs 1.45 crore in all. Pune University will get Rs 75.71 lakh for developing e-content. The university’s Vice Chancellor told IE that the digital classrooms will develop content and make it available on YouTube and the University’s web portal and management system. The university expects other colleges to make use of this as well in the future.

Under the RUSA scheme, the state of Maharashtra gets Rs 271 crore, and has 15 institutions including 9 state and 5 government colleges. According to the report, Rs 50.98 has been released from the scheme for infrastructure grants, research and innovation and ‘faculty improvement.’

Push for digital literacy: Note that in February, Telecom and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the government aimed to make at least 50% of the Indian population digitally literate in 3 years, from the current 15%.

Recent developments in the online education sector:
– Last month, AISECT, a Madhya Pradesh based education group, launched ‘’, a free online Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform, in partnership with Ireland based ALISON group.
– In the same month, NIIT partnered with edX, an online learning platform to introduce Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) module in both their platforms.
– In March, Pune-based Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT) launched an accelerator called Eduglid for education technology startups.
– In February, language learning platform Duolingo added Hindi to its platform to let its users learn English through Hindi.

Also read:
Savitribai Phule Pune University senate approves Rs 685-cr budget – Indian Express
E-learning to help special students – Pune Mirror from 2014

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Image Credit: NishantAChavan under CC BY-SA 3.0