A technological leap was witnessed by the university with the launching of EduSat-based education, supported by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).The university has established several Virtual Learning Centres(VLC) in the State, each having full-fledged two-way audio and video communication facilities. The students registered for specific programmes at the different VLCs attend lectures there as per a pre-determined schedule. The experts deliver their lectures from the main hub at the University Headquarters or from the specially created sub-studio at Pune. These live lecture sessions also provide scope for interaction with students located at various distant locations. This technology not only involves the learner actively in the learning process, but also ensures that quality academic inputs are provided uniformly to all the learners in the State. Furthermore, this approach to imparting education goes a long way in dealing with the dearth of adequate trained human resources for teaching specialised courses of study at remote locations. The university currently offers 3 academic programmes using the EduSat and many other programmes waiting to use this technology in order to reach wider audiences simultaneously, are in the pipeline.
Video on Demand:
A rather novel experiment was undertaken by the university when it achieved a conversion of the satellite–based lectures into a streaming video format on the web. YCMOU had recently launched this facility under its MPSC-UPSC Competitive Examination Guidance Programme. Initially 30 lectures under this programme – each having a duration of two hours – were made available on the ’net for the students. Registered students could view these lectures from any place where broadband connection was available. The Study Centers also arranged for group viewing of these lectures. Although this was a pilot run, in future, lectures/video programmes/audio programmes of different disciplines may also be made available on the ’net in the same manner.
Environmental Awareness CDs as ‘Open Access’:
On the occasion of the World Environment Day on 5th June, the university embarked on yet another initiative. A set of 30 videos on the theme ‘Environmental Awareness’ - comprising 13 in Marathi and 17 in English- especially prepared by the university’s Audio Visual Centre, was released on the web as ‘Open Resource’ at the hands of Professor Moolchand Sharma, Vice-Chairman, UGC on this day. While acknowledged experts in the field like Padm. Sundarlal Bahuguna, Dr. Madhav Chitale and Dr. Anand Karve have contributed to the development of these videos by way of lectures, some of the visuals for these videos have been the contributions of NASA, UCAR Communication, European Commission and Mostra Communications.
Developed primarily in response to a national need created because of a dearth of adequate trained and qualified teachers to teach this subject that has been made compulsory by a Supreme Court directive, this initiative can be a very useful complementary tool for the teachers entrusted with teaching the subject. It will also help students and society in general in gaining scientific information about our environment and issues related to it.
Mobile Learning Centre:
This innovative project of the university especially designed to carry education to the remote rural and tribal areas involves the construction of specially designed Mobile learning vans. The mobile van is a road transport vehicle equipped with computing and communications infrastructure. It has a seating capacity of 12 learners and has 6 computers installed i.e. 2 students per computer. Using multimedia projection system, a larger group of about 50 students can be given exposure to educational inputs, using the Mobile Van facilities. The on-board generator provides ensured power supply.
The mobile van also has the capability to provide education through the virtual mode. The virtual mode of education requires a Hub (transmitting station) and a set of mobile vans (receiving stations). The Hub is located at the University HQ from where educational content can be delivered. The Mobile vans are provided with a mechanism to receive the educational content and view it on the computer screen of the computers fitted in the mobile van.
The first batch of students was provided with computer training using the Mobile Van in a tribal area called Nanashi. Nanashi is a small village with a population of around 2500. It is 90 KM away from Nashik city. 56 students were registered for the first batch. The second batch running over the next three months was also implemented at this village. After the successful completion of the second batch, the mobile learning centre moved to Harsul, another tribal area. Harsul is also a small village having a population of 3500. Two batches of computer literacy programmes were successfully implemented at Harsul. The fifth batch of computer training was implemented at another tribal area in Peth. The sixth and seventh batches were conducted in rural areas in Trimbakeshwar. Presently the eighth batch is undergoing training in a tribal area in Borgaon, a small village in Surgana Tehsil. As the project proceeds further, more and more village and tribal communities will get access to relevant, high quality higher education and this will be an important contribution in ‘reaching the unreached’.
Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Nashik:
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) New Delhi established the Krishi Vigyan Kendra at Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University Nashik in 1994. It is an innovative farm science institution providing training and information services to the farmers and agribusiness managers. The KVK acts as a vocational training centre to work at the grass root level for imparting need-based training and skills in the field of agriculture and rural development. Besides, the Krishi Vigyan Kendra has also established a Model Farm to disseminate and demonstrate the agro techniques suitable to the local farming community in the district for sustainable development. This model farm, equipped with modern irrigation system, has important horticultural crops like Mango, Grapes, Sapota, Guava, Amla, Cashewnut, Litchi, Coconut, Custard apple and Jackfruit developed to cater to the need of farmers in the district.
The KVK has an Administrative building admeasuring 600 sq. m. with facilities for Soil & Water testing, Phyto diagnostic, Post Harvest Technology Laboratory and an Agricultural Technology Information Centre. Hostel facilities that can accommodate about 30 farmers are also available in the KVK premises.A novel experiment has also been undertaken with high density plantation, multi-stored cropping and high tech floriculture, use of biotech techniques for pest management, vermiculture biotechnology and modern nursery with various shed net houses to meet the training need of farmers and in order to supply the required planting material to them. The fruit orchard and polyhouses of the KVK yield considerable commercial production. Last year, 7500 kg of Kesar mango was exported through an agency to Japan.
An adopted village concept to demonstrate various farming technologies has also been successfully implemented through a participatory group approach. This has led to increased productivity and overall output of the village and has made a concrete difference to the standard of living of the villagers.
Dai training programme:
Half of India’s births take place at home due to underdevelopment in many blocks. Even though part of the national policy for promoting hospital births, the School of Health Sciences launched a Dai training programme of 10 credit points. This is a unique programme in the health sector. Three books and a workbook coupled with a PowerPoint package have been especiallly developed under this programme. In the first batch, the dais of Nandurbar—a backward tribal district of Maharashtra- participated in this programme. The programme has now been offered in many rural and urban locations. Recently the programme was also shared with a Bihar NGO in Hindi. Since home births still continue in many parts of the country, we wish to share this programme with other SOUs and institutions.
Arogyamitra for Human Development Mission and NRHM:
The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) launched in 2005 has an important component of ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist). YCMOU prepared the very first programme to support ASHA in the state. This 16 CP programme--Arogyamitra- is popular in the voluntary sector and now the Maharashtra Human Development Mission has also taken up this programme for 2000 ASHAs in its 25 backward blocks.