• The ministry of education released guidelines for the development of e-content for children with disabilities with an aim to fulfil the goal of inclusive education.
• In pursuance of the vision for providing accessible e-content to students with disabilities, the department of school education and literacy, under the ministry of education, constituted a working group with the specific goal of developing teaching-learning e-content for children with special needs.
• The committee submitted its report and it was accepted by the ministry on June 8.
• According to the guidelines, content for CwDs should be developed based on four principles — perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.
• The committee has also recommended that in a phased manner, textbooks may be adapted into accessible digital textbooks (ADTs).
• The National Education Policy-2020 focuses on multiple aspects, including revamping of the current schooling structure and radical reforms in the curriculum. The inherent thread that runs throughout the policy is an extensive use of digital technology to provide accessible content to students with disabilities.
Major government initiatives for digital education:
PM eVIDYA programme
• Realizing the importance of digital education and its ability to ensure continuity of school education even in extraordinary situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, PM eVIDYA was launched on May 17, 2020 for multimode access to digital/online education.
• As a comprehensive initiative, PM eVIDYA envisions to unify all efforts related to digital/online/on-air education, benefitting nearly 25 crore school going children across the country.
• The programme envisages development of special e-content for visually and hearing impaired students, along with extensive use of radio, community radio and podcasts and the uploading of QR coded energized digital textbooks for Classes 1 to 12 on DIKSHA portal.
• DIKSHA (Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing), a national platform for school education, was launched in September 2017. It has been adopted by 35 states/UTs across India.
• The platform offers teachers, students and parents engaging learning material relevant to the prescribed school curriculum. Teachers have access to learning aids like lesson plans, worksheets and activities, to create enjoyable classroom experiences.
• Students will be able to understand concepts, revise lessons and do practice exercises. Parents can follow classroom activities and clear doubts outside school hours.
• It currently supports more than 18 languages.
• Amid the pandemic, the portal has been widely used by students to access digital textbooks and other material from home. The QR codes placed in textbooks provide a ready gateway for any new/modified content to be uploaded on DIKSHA.
• Under the Digital India initiative, National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) has been identified as one of the partners for the National MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) initiatives for “Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM)”.
• The objective of this effort is to take the best teaching learning resources to all, including the most disadvantaged.
• The MOOCs are developed using the four-quadrant approach – text in PDF, a teaching video, self-assessment exercises and discussion forum. NCERT has launched 34 online courses for students (Classes XI-XII) and teachers on the SWAYAM portal.
• The SWAYAM PRABHA is a group of 34 DTH channels devoted to telecasting educational programmes on 24x7 basis.
• Every day, new content is broadcasted for at least four hours, which is repeated five times a day thereafter, allowing the students to choose the time of their convenience. The content is provided by National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), IITs, UGC, CEC, IGNOU, NCERT and NIOS.
• The ePathshala portal and mobile apps are a storehouse of audios, videos, ePubs, flipbooks etc. Resources can be accessed through laptop, desktop, tablets and smartphones. Resources are available in Hindi, English and Urdu.
• National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement (NISHTHA) is a capacity building programme for improving the quality of school education through Integrated Teacher Training.
• It aims to build competencies among all teachers and school principals at the elementary stage. Amid pandemic, teacher training modules have been adapted for online dissemination and other stages of education.
• The OLabs are based on the idea that lab experiments can be taught using the Internet, more efficiently with fewer expenses. The labs can also be made available to students with no access to physical labs or where equipment is not available owing to being scarce or costly.
• The content is aligned to NCERT/CBSE and state board syllabus in physics, chemistry, and biology from Class 9 to Class 12 and English and Maths lessons for Class 9 and 10.
• Virtual Labs provide remote-access to labs in various disciplines of science and engineering at the undergraduate level and post graduate level.
• To provide a complete Learning Management System around the Virtual Labs, the students can avail the various tools for learning, including additional web-resources, video-lectures, animated demonstrations and self evaluation.
National Digital Online Library
• National Digital Library of India (NDLI) is a virtual repository of learning resources and provides a host of services for the learner community. It is sponsored and mentored by the ministry of education through its National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT). It has more than 50 million resources.
National Repository of Open Educational Resource
• NROER is a collaborative platform, which brings together everyone interested in school and teacher education. The project is managed by the Central Institute of Educational Technology, NCERT under the aegis of department of school education and literacy.
Special e-content for students with disabilities
• NIOS offers content for students with disabilities such as content in Indian sign language for hearing impaired learners and ePub and DAISY enabled ‘talking books’ for visually impaired learners.
• It is reported that NIOS has developed more than 270 videos in sign language across seven subjects to provide educational access to learners at secondary level and on yoga courses.
Mukta Vidya Vani (MVV)
• NIOS organises live interactive web streaming of Personal Contact Programmes (PCPs) for various subjects of secondary, senior secondary and vocational courses.
• These are organised for its learners through Mukta Vidya Vani (MVV), an open education radio facility for providing informational and educational content.
• Shiksha Vaani is an audio-based learning initiative of CBSE and is available via Android app store. The podcasts cover various subjects at the secondary and senior secondary levels and are available both in English and Hindi.