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Monday, June 4, 2001

Computer–learning on Web
Peeyush Agnihotri

STUDENTS who visit computer-training centre can be broadly divided into three categories. The first category is of keen learners that comprise 25 per cent of the crowd and want to acquire jobs on its basis. The second 45 per cent bulk category of the learners are the ones who want to learn computers to enhance their professional skills and remain abreast with the latest. The remaining 30 per cent are the non-serious kinds.

This is the axiom that propelled a Chandigarh-based IT company, NetWorld Solutions to launch an IT education Web site, www.seekexperts.com, last week. The site enables students to interact directly with IT professionals to obtain high-quality IT education.

The core focus of this Web site is to provide access to affordable professional training to students and provide an opening to experienced IT professionals who can earn a bit extra by giving their expert advice.


The market for IT education in India is estimated at over 1,500 crore per year with a growth rate of over 15 per cent per annum. The current business model of the IT training industry is capital intensive, non-transparent and highly dependent on advertising. As per Nasscom estimate there are over 70,000 private training institutes in India. These are fragmented among national branded franchisee operated facilities and local training providers. Less than 10 per cent of these fulfill any minimum quality norms.

The main drawback faced by these training centers is the lack of quality instructors. The prospective students are unable to obtain unbiased advice as to which curriculum or career stream best suits them. Prospective students are also unable to assess the skill level of instructors before committing to training expenditure and the biggest tragedy is that an aspiring student is unable to access the untapped knowledge reservoir of working IT professionals.

"The franchisee based IT education model is not always able to meet all its objectives due to a number of factors. Some are unable to impartially advise students on course suitability or they are unable to implement the promised curriculum." Mr. A.S. Sandhu, a business manager of NetWorld Solutions, says and adds that they are trying for a tie-up with Brainbench, the leader in online certifications that is the accepted standard for
skills testing worldwide.

A feature on SeekExperts.com enables registered students to post questions directly to experts or to a general forum from which any expert can answer questions. Answered questions are then forwarded to a searchable database of questions, thus facilitating self-help among students. The quality of an experts answer enables the students to judge the capabilities of each expert.

SeekExperts.com will shortly offer aptitude tests so that a new entrant into the IT field can assess his or her aptitude. The students and experts require a common meeting place. Registered SeekExperts study centres provide the facilities, such as classrooms, PC access, library etc for use by students. The study centres can also act as a catalyst between students and experts by matching student groups with experts. The study centre can also use the services of freelance experts thus reducing manpower costs and the centres can also save on advertising costs, as SeekExperts.com will provide most of the required exposure that a study centre needs.

The portal has been launched initially at Chandigarh. The site will be launched in Delhi within a few months and by the end of 2001, it is expected to cover whole of India.

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