500 million school textbooks now provide digital content via QR codes



  • The scope of learning and education is not limited to textbooks anymore. But, that’s not all.
  • The Ministry of Human Resource & Development (MHRD) and state governments are pushing QR (Quick Response) codes-based learning systems — to help school students and teachers learn and evaluate performance in real time.
  • Over 500 million school textbooks now provide digital content by scanning QR codes.
  • In fact, CBSE is now looking to digitize all the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) books too — across first to tenth grade.
Students now can now listen or even watch their lessons on apps, thanks to digital learning practices. While a few pre-schools are now providing their parents with VR apps that ‘show’ children early learning like body parts, geography etc, it is not relegated to the elite anymore.

Many state syllabus text books also come with QR codes that will guide students to online platforms.

The Ministry of Human Resource & Development (MHRD) and state governments are pushing QR (Quick Response) codes-based learning systems — to help school students and teachers learn and evaluate performance in real time.

QR codes are an enhanced version of barcodes which contain information in a machine readable format. The code, when scanned takes the user to the landing page of the learning modules.

The chapters of a textbook have up to three codes containing information. This information can be audio, video or text format. In 2017, the ministry launched project ‘Diksha’, which uses an open source platform Sunbird to produce the content. This subject-wise content is made centrally available on the application. The students can access it by scanning the patterns in the textbook on the Diksha app.

The project that initially kicked off in five states is now being implemented across 28 states in India. The app has garnered over 7 million downloads since the launch and over 500 million school textbooks now provide digital content by scanning QR codes.

“The way we look at it is, use technology as an enabler and see what problems we can solve through it. We have to first understand the problem we want to solve and then use technology to distribute the ability to solve ‘societal platform thinking,’” said Rohini Nilekani of EkStep Foundation.

In fact, CBSE is now looking to digitize all the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) books too — across first to tenth grade. In addition, it is also planning to create a resource pool for students to access explanation videos, powerpoint presentations and much more.

"These codes will be mapped with the content of each textbook from Class 1 to 12 and will be linked with a QR code, which will be printed in the textbooks," CBSE officials earlier said.

The larger rationale is to digitally empower both students and teachers. As of now, the initiative caters to approximately 120 million children and 4 million teachers.

This content is then used in schools across states. “The content which has been developed by one state can now be consumed easily by another state. All they need to do is put a subtitle or voice over and reuse the video by putting it in their QR codes — and this is happening a lot,” Anita Karwal, chairperson of CBSE told Business Standard.

The Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu governments have been experimenting with this digital system well enough. For instance, Maharashtra has already coded all textbooks in eight languages. While Tamil Nadu is looking to capitalise on 3D content for better understanding.

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