NPTEL- An Indian online short term course initiative

In this article I will write about the Indian initiative in providing online short term courses. This e-learning initiative is named NPTEL (National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning) and is a joint venture of 7 IITs and IISc, Bangalore.

NPTEL is a free online short term course facility being provided by premiere Indian institutions. Just like Coursera which is an initiative by foreign universities in this direction, NPTEL aims to provide quality education from the experts in their respective fields. Below I write about the NPTEL project which is a great step forward to improve Indian academic quality.


NPTEL, a project funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is a joint venture of 7 IITs (IIT Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras and Roorkee) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore. The idea was conceived in 1999 and its first phase was successfully completed from June 2003 to June 2007. This project is aimed at using the multimedia and web technology to impart quality education in various fields of science, humanities and engineering. IITs and IISc work together to develop web and video based material for various NPTEL courses.


The various objectives of this project are as follows.

Quality education for students

The project is aimed at imparting quality education to students all over the country. Every student in India cannot enroll in IITs or IISc. Therefore, for such students who are enrolled in other colleges and who generally do not get quality education, this project provides a platform from gaining knowledge from India's premiere institutions.

Education and Training for faculty

The faculty in most of the colleges is not very knowledgeable and trained to teach. Through this project, it is aimed to impart quality knowledge and training to the faculty of various science and engineering colleges so that they provide good education to their students.

Professional Development

This project is also helpful to the professional and employed people who can increase and update their knowledge about a particular subject. This will help them in advancing further in their profession.


NPTEL is meant for science, humanities and engineering students, teachers or professionals. Following fields are covered presently under this project.

Aerospace Engineering
Atmospheric Science
Automobile Engineering
Basic courses(Semester 1 and 2)
Chemical Engineering
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Civil Engineering
Computer Science and Engineering
Electrical Engineering
Electronics & Communication Engineering
Engineering Design
Environmental Science
Humanities and Social Sciences
Mechanical Engineering
Metallurgy and Material Science
Mining Engineering
Ocean Engineering
Textile Engineering

Within each field various courses are being provided. For example in physics some courses being provided are as follows.

Astrophysics & Cosmology by Prof. S. Bharadwaj, IIT Kharagpur
Electrodynamics by Prof. Amol Dighe, TIFR
Electronics by Prof. D.C. Dube, IIT Delhi
Nuclear Physics: Fundamentals and Applications by Prof. H.C. Verma,IIT Kanpur

Course Format

The courses are in one of the following two formats.

1. Web based: NPTEL provides more than 125 courses in Web based format. These courses do not contain any video but provide lectures in form of pdf, html, ppt slides etc.
2. Video courses: More than 136 courses are being provided in video format. The course lectures are generally 30-40 min duration each.

Accessing the course

The NPTEL courses can be accessed in following ways.

1. Download from NPTEL website: The web based courses can be downloaded as files or copy pasted by the individual from the course website for free. No registration is required. The video lectures and associated material can be similarly downloaded from the course website for free. Explore for a particular course to download.

2. DVD: The courses are also available in DVDs costing Rs. 200 each with 30 to 45 lectures per course. These can be ordered on email at email id

3. Youtube: There is also a youtube channel for NPTEL from where these video courses can be accessed and downloaded. The channel is at Some of these video courses also have lecture notes, assignments and handouts which can be accessed and downloaded from the course website on NPTEL.

Live lectures

From January 2013 live courses are being provided by NPTEL. Currently only 4 live courses are being provided.

1. Basic Electrical Circuits
2. Digital System Design
3. Probability & random processes
4. Signals & systems

You need to register for these courses on NPTEL website. These courses are 3-4 month duration and live lectures will be provided every week. There will be assignments, mid term examinations and final exam. A certificate of accomplishment on completion of the course will be provided to the online students. An online discussion forum for asking queries is also provided during the live lecture. These lectures will be recorded along with the quiz questions/answers and later on made available for viewing through NPTEL website and YouTube.

NPTEL for institutions

NPTEL courses can be used by any institution for teaching its students. These courses can be accessed in following ways by the institution.

1. Free download: The courses can be downloaded form the course website on NPTEL. The web based courses are in pdf, html or ppt format which can be downloaded as files or copy pasted where ever required. The video courses can be downloaded from course website or from NPTEL youtube channel.

2. VPN bandwidth: Institutions can register for getting VPN (Virtual private network) bandwidth. For this purpose contact

Mission Secretariat, NMEICT,
Ministry of HRD,
Shastri Bhavan, New Delhi.
Email: or

When the bandwidth is obtained, register your institute on Once registered the course contents can be directly downloaded through the VPN.

3. Hard disk copy: NPTEL provides a copy of its courses to the institutes on hard disk. For this purpose a letter from head of the institute requesting content from NPTEL along with two 2TB hard disks need to be send to NPTEL office at

IIT Madras, Webstudio,
3rd Floor, IC & SR Building,
IIT Madras,

The letter should also mention the serial code of the hard disks. NPTEL will copy the contents for free but only once and this takes almost a week's time. The institute need to collect back the hard disks from NPTEL office. Any further courses and updates need to downloaded by the institute itself from the NPTEL website. For getting more information about this process you can contact

The Principal Project Officer, Web Studio, IIT Madras at 914422575905 or 914422575908.

The NPTEL initiative by India's premiere institutions with an aim of providing free and quality knowledge to all is a commendable one. My aim of writing this article is to make students in India aware of this facility of e-learning provided by the premiere Indian institutions so that they can avail it for their benefit.

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Guest Author: bhupendra dansena14 Mar 2014

What kind of courses offered releted to textile. Long term as well as short term.

Guest Author: rohini16 May 2014

Do NPTEL provide certification after completion of the course. I am a student of IPCC, and would like to utilize my time purposely between exams and results. I can start from july 1st to august 5th. Would like to do management course offered by NPTEL.

Your speedy response will be highly appreciated.


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