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Views of Dr Ashwini Kumar Sharma, Managing Director, NIELIT

July 22, 2015
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Views of Dr Ashwini Kumar Sharma, Managi...

The National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT) has a network of 31 own centers, besides about 900 accredited training partners and 6,000 facilitation centres in the private sector across the country, engaged in capacity building and skill development programmes in IECT. Supported by the Department of Electronics and Information technology (DeitY), NIELIT has been at the forefront in imparing skill-based education in telecom and IT to rural youth. Dr. Ashwini Kumar Sharma, managing director, NIELIT, talks about the organisations’s telecom set-up and its future IT blueprint…

What are the components of the organisation’s current telecom and IT set-up?

The organisation’s telecom and IT set-up runs on the connectivity provided by the government’s National Knowledge Network (NKN), a state-of-the-art multi-gigabit pan-Indian network that provides a unified high speed backbone for the country’s leading central and state-led educational and training institutes. NIELIT has a network of 31 training centres across the country, of which around 18 support broadband connectivity with speeds of 10 GB. The remaining centres are also connected through bandwidth provided by the NKN but they have connectivity speeds of 1-2 GB. We are working with DeitY and the National Informatics Centre to increase their broadband speeds. All 31 centres are connected with the organisation’s headquarters in New Delhi.

How have telecom and IT helped NIELIT come up with qualitative educational modules and training programmes for its educational centres?

The organisation has grown tremendously in terms of the number of courses it offers as well as the number of students that have enrolled on account of its extensive use of telecom and IT technologies.

For example, we have to deal with the shortage of technically skilled manpower. However, the concept of virtual classrooms has helped us deliver lectures and training lessons from our New Delhi headquarters to the rest of the centres. We have gradually started using web and online resources to make it possible for the entire registration and admission process to be done via the internet. Students can now register online and receive their admit cards and course-related information through email and SMS. Technology has helped us reduce paperwork and fast-track a number of processes.

What are the challenges being faced in implementing new technologies?

There are several challenges associated with the implementation of new technology, a major one being the lack of trust that makes a large section of the population wary of giving out information online. People continue to favour paper-based systems over paperless ones. This sense of insecurity and lack of trust extends to online fee payments as well. There are also concerns regarding cybersecurity, which include data theft. In addition, there are issues with familiarising and training educational faculties with new technological tools.

What are the likely technology trends in the education sector?

Emerging and evolving technologies like graphics-based information systems, mega data, cloud computing, analytics and the internet of things (IoT) will have a huge impact on the education sector. Going forward, even a chair in a classroom will have built-in intelligence through IoT. This technology can help the administration monitor the current state of infrastructure in a classroom or institute. This would reduce the need to make physical visits and will also save time and money. Similarly, analytics can help the management explore data related to the number and type of existing and upcoming training centres or educational institutes. The information thus derived can help institutes like NIELIT identify the potential parts of the country that require training centres and accordingly build capacity and infrastructure for delivering skill-based educational services.

What is the organisation’s telecom and IT blueprint for the next year?

Going forward, the focus will be on leveraging telecom and IT to come up with skill-based courses that can support the delivery of various services. For example, NIELIT is working on developing courses centred on graphics-based information systems that provide training for installing routers and impart the skills needed for splicing optical fibre to establish connectivity between different touch points. Such courses can help the youth in rural areas leverage employment opportunities provided by the government-led National Optical Fibre Network project.

The organisation is also working towards providing student-related details like educational certificates and qualifications in a digital locker. Any employer can verify these documents, which will be hosted on the cloud. In addition, NIELIT is attempting to bring its infrastructure together on the cloud in order to reduce the time and costs involved in implementing new technologies or scaling up and scaling down infrastructure.

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