Tech enabled skills training for masses

The AISECT Group is a leading provider of skills training in rural and semi-urban India, running the country’s biggest network of 23,000 multipurpose IT centres. Abhishek Pandit, Executive Vice President, AISECT Group, highlights how integration of technology has enabled them to create an ecosystem that makes quality skills training affordable and accessible to the masses

What have been the key technology implementations at AISECT, making an impact on how you are bridging the skills gap ?

AISECT was established in 1985 and since then we have been offering skills training, higher education, financial inclusion, placement, e-Governance and various ICT-based services in the rural and semi-urban areas. We have been integrating the latest technologies into our initiatives to bridge the rural and urban divide and create a more inclusive society.

Abhishek Pandit, Executive Vice President, AISECT Group

Here is a list of our key technology implementations across different levels:

* Multipurpose IT centres: We have created a vast network of over 20,000 multipurpose IT centres across the country. These centres address the multifaceted problems of rural and semi-urban areas through skills training and various ICT-based services.

* Online learning: Through and, we offer learning opportunity to distant learners. These initiatives use cloud technology to offer a variety of certification courses to the students through our online learning management system.

* Online services: Apart from imparting education, we also offer a number of G2C and B2C services for the rural population. These services include pan card application, electricity and gas bill payment and mobile recharge, among many others.

* Online job placement: is a one-of-a-kind online job portal that addresses the requirement of entry level blue collar jobs in the private and public sector enterprises at the small town, district and block levels.

* Radio Raman: Dr CV Raman University in Chhattisgarh has launched India’s first university community radio station named ‘Radio Raman’ with an objective to broadcast necessary educational and entertainment based content which focuses on the basic rights of the local community in terms of education, health and law.

* Eduvantage PRO: We launched Eduvantage PRO Interactive Multimedia Content with the objective of bringing in a low cost, high quality multimedia classroom solution for K-12 school students at the small town, district and block levels.

How are your implementations creating an interactive and effective learning environment for students?
Here are our three technology implementations that are facilitating interactive and effective learning for our students:

Digital University: At Dr CV Raman University’s Institute of Open and Distance Education, online live lectures are offered to students through distance learning centres. It provides an opportunity for students to learn in a live interactive mode and also increases the university’s reach to various geographical locations across India. These live lectures bring a more personalised learning approach by connecting students directly to faculty members.

India’s first ever community radio station by a university: Dr CV Raman University has leveraged the radio technology to launch a community Radio station named ‘Radio Raman’. It provides an interactive medium to broadcast essential information and spread awareness regarding education, sports, health and social aspects, external affairs, music, culture and other innovative affairs and knowledge based economy. The classroom lectures that are delivered by the university’s faculty are also recorded and broadcasted through the radio station, thus benefitting students in rural and far flung areas.

Cost-effective multimedia content creation: The Eduvantage PRO learning system provides a cost effective medium to enrich K12 students’ learning experience via multimedia content through animated and interactive pedagogy. The e-learning solutions are self paced and boost understanding through real world examples.

Any innovative implementation which has helped in streamlining operations across your many centres?
* Online grievance redressal mechanism: Taking grievance redressal online has made the whole process easy for the stakeholders as the steps are clearly defined and time frame for resolutions is also readily available. It has increased the transparency across the centres as the grievances are directly referred to the relevant authorities through the system, resulting in quick resolutions.

* Online registration and fee payment for students: Providing the option for online registration and fee payment has not only saved a lot of time for the students and parents but also removed the necessity of large amount of paperwork and long queues at the counters.

* Online examination: It doesn’t just save paper and money but also saves a lot of time for both students and teachers. With multiple choice questions, these online exams are completely auto graded, leaving teachers with more time to focus on teaching.

* Online delivery of courses through MOOCs: We offer a vast library of MOOCs for our students. It enables students to learn at their own pace without having to go to the centres every time. Students can use the centres to leverage the help of teachers in case of doubts but can take their learning in their own hands through the online courses at their home, making the overall learning process more effective.

* Online and GPS tracking application of field force: Using online and GPS field force tracking system enables real-time tracking of workforce, attendance, meeting, and expense, among other parameters. These processes have been important in streamlining numerous business operations across all our centres.

How are you leveraging technology to deliver skills training at your university ?
Our universities leverage the state of the art technology to deliver effective skills training to our students. We are the pioneers of skills training in the rural and semi-urban India and integration of technology at different levels has enabled us to create an ecosystem that makes quality skills training affordable and accessible to the masses.

We have tied up with big technology brands like Frugal, Intel and Microsoft to set up high end skills lab using technologies like IoT and cloud computing. These partnerships further strengthen our technology integration to help the students gain necessary skills in a more productive manner.

Our technology interventions like introducing mobile based learning and offering content in regional languages to the students in the rural areas has enabled us to close the language barrier, thereby increasing the effectiveness of our training programs. Since the students end up using vast amounts of data on their mobile devices for content consumption, we are easing their learning experiencing by offering content through offline mediums directly for their mobile devices.

Utilising the power and reach of internet, we are delivering online certification courses through AISECTMOOCS. These online courses are available in both English and Hindi, reaching the remotest parts of the country and providing students access to free world-class skill development courses at their doorsteps. It has enabled us to create an inclusive education environment by helping the students who can’t reach our centres.

Which new emerging technologies do you foresee making a significant difference in skill development training in the country?
India is pegged to be the youngest country in the world with an average age of 29 years by the year 2020. With the number of skilled workforce staying low, it is important to accelerate our skilling efforts in order to effectively utilize the advantage of a young workforce to drive growth.

There are a number of emerging technologies which are being effectively used in the education domain and these technologies can also play a significant role in boosting skill development across the country.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality has the potential to make training cheaper in the areas where the students need to be provided hands-on experience. Rather than training the students on actual machines, they can be trained just as effectively on the simulators leveraging these technologies.

Technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Analytics could play a critical role in personalising training modules for the students based on their strong and weak points, making the training sessions more efficient and effective.

These technologies have utilities across different fields and they could potentially change the way skill development training is provided. Since the majority of the Indian population still resides in the rural areas, the real challenge is going to be to bring these technologies to Rural India.

Which are the new technologies you are looking at implementing in the near future?
With new technologies disrupting the world every day, it is important that we stay updated and integrate these technologies that can help us improve the effectiveness of our teaching and training methods.

We are looking to set up virtual and simulation labs in our universities to make skills training more effective. Technology like Virtual Reality has the ability to reduce training costs by providing access to training equipment in a simulated environment without the need for actual equipment. Furthermore, we are looking to introduce high end courses like Big Data, cyber security, and Artificial Intelligence, considering these technologies are growing in prominence and will be playing a vital role in the future. These high end courses will be designed to prepare the students for the future jobs.

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