The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) oversees technical colleges in India. To enhance communication with its 11,500 colleges, AICTE deployed 7.5 million seats of Microsoft Office 365 for education. With the service, AICTE can
provide better governance of the schools it oversees, enhance teaching and learning, and even improve the nation’s technology literacy. AICTE accomplished the massive rollout in just nine months.
A body of the Ministry of Human Resource Development in India, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is responsible for certifying, planning, establishing standards for, and coordinating technical higher education in India. AICTE serves
more than 8 million students and 500,000 faculty members in 11,500 technical colleges and institutes across the country.
To effectively evaluate the curriculum quality and consistency across all 11,500 institutes, AICTE needs timely communication with the colleges, some of which are located in remote areas. However, many of the schools lacked high-end IT infrastructures. Because
technical education is becoming increasingly vital to India’s economy, the Ministry authorized AICTE to deploy technology to enable electronic communication between AICTE and the colleges. Such an infrastructure should also enable curriculum sharing among
faculty at different schools, to promote consistency and best practices. Additionally, it should help students communicate with one another and with professors—to improve the students’ research and familiarity with tools that they would encounter in the workplace.
Because many of the schools needed to update their IT infrastructure, AICTE sought a cloud-based solution—one hosted in a third-party data center and delivered over the Internet. AICTE reviewed solutions from many global providers and selected Microsoft
Office 365 for education, a cloud-based solution that unites familiar Microsoft Office applications with the power of Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Lync Online into one connected, online solution.
||Office 365 will enhance our day-to-day communication, collaboration, and monitoring of the colleges we oversee.… This will help us promote and propagate innovation across all 11,500 institutions.
| Dr. SS Mantha
Chairman, All India Council for Technical Education
“Microsoft provided enterprise-grade services and support whereas other vendors did not,” says Dr. SS Mantha, Chairman of AICTE. “Data security and privacy were of paramount importance to us, and we felt that Office 365 offered the compliance features that
we required. We were impressed by Microsoft’s extensive experience in higher education and ability to deploy a system across geographically distributed locations without adding significantly to IT management costs.”
AICTE deployed 7.5 million seats of Office 365, for 7 million students and 500,000 faculty members. By using Office 365, AICTE has been able to give students and faculty anywhere, any-device access to email services in addition to online document editing
and sharing, videoconferencing, and instant messaging.
AICTE plans to use SharePoint Online to set up a payment portal where students can pay for classes electronically. Schools can also set up portals for their local student and faculty communities. Using Lync Online, professors will be able to deliver web-based
teaching and distance conferences, making teaching more flexible and collaborative.
By deploying Office 365, AICTE can better promote educational innovation, improve teaching and learning, and increase national technology literacy. AICTE achieved the rollout in nine months.
Promote Educational Innovation
With Office 365, AICTE will be able to achieve electronic governance of the nation’s technical colleges. It will assign each student and faculty member an ID number that it can use to track how many students are studying certain programs, how many
professors are teaching particular courses, how many computers each school has, and so forth.
“Office 365 will enhance our day-to-day communication, collaboration, and monitoring of the colleges we oversee with audio, video, web conferencing, and whiteboard discussions so that it will be much easier for AICTE to monitor what faculty members are doing
in terms of teaching innovation and research,” Dr. Mantha says. “This will help us promote and propagate innovation across all 11,500 institutions.”
Improve Teaching and Learning
Increased innovation will lead to better teaching and learning. Using Lync Online, for example, faculty and students will be able to better collaborate with one another and with peers and industry partners. “Lync Online allows communication to be collaborative,
engaging, and accessible from anywhere, resulting in in a powerful, highly secure, and reliable system that works with existing tools. This lowers the cost of ownership and increases avenues for innovation,” says Dr. Mantha. “The Microsoft cloud platform will
support a truly progressive ecosystem and contribute to the country’s technical education by providing a better communication and collaboration platform for institutes and students.”
Additionally, students learn to use the technologies that they will encounter in the workplace, which helps them prepare to be productive with common workplace technologies.
Bridge National Technology Divide
Over the long term, Dr. Mantha believes that cloud-based technology such as Office 365 will yield even more far-reaching benefits for students in India. Technology will help bridge the urban-rural divide that limits educational opportunities of many
rural students. It will also accelerate the nation’s effort to digitally connect villages and provide e-services to citizens across the country.
“Improving the digital literacy in our technical colleges will improve the current technology divide faced by students in India,” says Dr. Mantha. “These students will be tomorrow’s leaders. The technologies that they use in school will be the technologies
that their villages will use tomorrow. Giving students cutting-edge technologies leads to the very good possibility that these technologies will improve the governance of the entire country.”
Deploy Services in Nine Months
By choosing Office 365, AICTE was able to deploy cloud-based communication and collaboration services to 7.5 million people in just nine months. “With great support from Microsoft, we were able to achieve critical mass rollout much faster than would
otherwise have been possible,” Dr. Mantha says.
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