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IGNOU, Ericsson go 3G in education
October 26, 2009

NEW DELHI, INDIA: In a first-of-its-kind initiative in India, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has signed a pact with Swedish telecom giant Ericsson to provide access to educational content using third generation (3G) mobile telephony.

The university, which has 2.5 million students on its rolls, will initially roll out the 3G application for 1,000 students pursuing certificate course in information technology here. This will be a pilot project for the next six months, officials said.

Soon after the university has planned a pan-India roll-out, extending to all courses.

"With Ericsson's help, we will create a learning platform that uses mobile devices to build educational excellence and exchange information," V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, the vice chancellor of the university, said after signing the pact.

"The concession on the 3G usages will be worked out with the governments and the telecom companies later. But we will charge a very minimal money, around Rs.25 or even less, for making distance education available through 3G applications," Pillai added.

The IGNOU is also in talks with telecom operators like the state-run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd and Bharat Sanchar Nigam who have already already rolled out their 3G services to enable students to learn through this mobile-based application.

K.R Srivathsan, the pro-VC of IGNOU, said the 3G initiative will also help in connecting students in remote areas. "With this, students can access the course web pages, download files and assignments, and also watch video clips," he said.

The IGNOU vice chancellor said the use of 3G will also serve the government's vision of promoting higher education where only 15 percent of students reach high school, and 50 percent of college professors teach without a master's degree.

According to Gowton Achaibar, president of Ericsson India, the classrooms of the future were moving to mobile phones and will reach out further into India. "We will build a 3G environment for students to download course contents. They can also get SMS alerts."

He said 3G technology will create a wider scope for a learner. "It's a small screen that has a browser to scan, stream, build capacities of the user by getting learning material at the shortest possible application methods."

The top Ericsson executive said this also presented a clear opportunity to use India's rising rapidly rising teledensity to bring the advantages of broadband to the world of education.

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