How digital libraries help aspirants to crack JEE Main, UPSC amid coronavirus crisis
Rajlakshmi Ghosh| TNN | May 6, 2020, 15:16 IST
As JEE Main and NEET exams have scheduled to be conducted in July, aspirants have just one choice before them: to study online and make the most of this extended lockdown period. What may have disrupted their preparation process, however, was the lack of adequate online resources and e-learning materials.
Enter the digital libraries to ensure continuity of their learning. “In case of competitive examinations like the JEE – digital libraries can offer students not just reference materials, question papers and solutions all in one place, but also the flexibility to learn at their own pace and attempt questions as many times and at any time,” says Partha Pratim Chakrabarti, former director, IIT Kharagpur (KGP) and principal investigator, National Digital Library of India (NDLI).
The NDLI platform developed by the institute under MHRD for the dissemination of over 4.8 crore content in more than 300 languages and 60 plus formats has created a special resource called NDLI Tutor – IIT JEE which houses a collection of over 3,000+ solutions that students across the country can access free of cost. “All questions of last five years’ IIT JEE Main and last 12 years’ of IIT Advanced questions papers have been solved and included here,” Chakrabarti says.
The question papers on the platform are solved by young graduates who cleared the exams and provide aspirants with the answers and also the techniques of solving a particular problem so that they can attempt all similar questions.
The digital resources of all the major IITs are also included on this platform. “They can have access to not just e-books from even the remotest corners of the country, but also video-tutorials, simulations, virtual labs, articles, thesis, lecture notes and more – in a multi-format learning mode,” says Partha Pratim Das, joint principal Investigator, NDLI.
Both Chakrabarti and Das believe that while digital libraries can enable access to quality content, it cannot provide the rigour and mentoring of a physical classroom. “In that sense, a digital library cannot completely replace a good teacher or a good coaching institute,” Das adds. “But for a dedicated aspirant, it can open up a whole universe of learning, access to the the best teachers in any field at any time of the day or night and anywhere in the world.”
Agrees Tariq Ashraf, university librarian, Jamia Millia Islamia that has a library housing 4 million e-books and an almost equal number of research papers, reference materials and journals in the digital mode. “UPSC aspirants make full use of the e-resources at our library, and at a time when the world is in lockdown, the easy availability of e-resources in the digital format, puts them at ease.”
The lockdown situation, according to Ashraf, has opened up new avenues for the world of learning and provided a fresh impetus to open source movement. “It has far-reaching implications and is likely to affect the monopoly of the publishing industry over scholarly communication in the coming years globally. A larger challenge, however, will be to provide high-speed internet connectivity to the remotest parts of the country if this emerging paradigm is to succeed fully,” he adds.
Where it all began
Digital libraries are a relatively new concept, and unlike Netflix, people are yet to adapt completely to digital as a medium for reading and learning, especially in India. However, since a digital library can provide all the features of a traditional library like search, browse and catalogue and then exceed it many times in scale, it is proving to be the new normal amid the pandemic crisis.
In the initial days, says Chakrabarti, digital libraries stood for collections of e-books. “But now they go well beyond e-books in terms of variety of learning resources including simulations, virtual labs, video lectures, online problem-solving sessions, etc and provide a new dimension to the next generation of learners who find it a single window to their continued learning.”