Oxford goes online

  • Pashupati Saha

    February 21, 2016 | 04:35 AM
Oxford goes online

Ever since the advent of the Internet into the academic sphere of India, things have taken unanticipated turns — on the one side there is a whole new world of online learning, reading and discussion forums; and, on the other, there is a prospective market and players catering to growing demands. In this scenario, it goes without saying that Oxford University Press, India, has embarked on a plan to roll out paid digital content offerings in the country, wherein they have a range of e-books, an online dictionary, with dynamic content including “Word of the Day”, quotes, word-games and crossword puzzles, factual articles and language learning content and Oxford Online, bringing together services for reference and monograph material. 

V Sivaramakrishnan, managing director, Oxford University Press (India) says, “There has been a huge change in the scenario of digitised learning and we sincerely want to introduce to the Indian market at large.” 

Excerpts from an interview:

What is your view on the advent of e-books in India and digitisation of content?

E-books and content digitisation augur well for a country like India that has a large young population (50 per cent below the age of 25 and more than 65 per cent below the age of 35), desirous of consuming content through electronic and mobile devices. Children these days are increasingly becoming more visual learners due to the proliferation of visual media and digital devices. Digitised content created in the form of an e-book or any another e-format not just helps us reach more learners but also allows us to do more with our content — such as make it more interactive. This helps us engage learners more, enable learning on the move and make the learning eco-system more inclusive.

What has caused the shift of modern readers towards technology, electronic devices?

Technology proliferation has been a universal phenomenon. It has changed our lives in more ways than one. In the case of readers, it has actually helped the reading habit grow. Growing Internet penetration, increasing smartphone usage, interactive content are all leading to sustained interest in reading. Educational institutions, too, have played their part in encouraging students to embrace technology and learn and read via electronic mediums, through the introduction of modern teaching technologies in classrooms. Technology is now an almost essential part of all our daily activities. We have observed that technology proliferation in education is no more just a metro phenomenon. Actually, non-metros and smaller towns have exhibited a great appetite for technology and devices.

How is the market placed to respond to this change, especially publishers?

The 243 million Internet users in India will double to 500 million by 2018. There are 122 million smartphone users in India, of which approximately 110 million are using the Internet on their phones, a trend that is growing at 22 per cent a year. Publishers in India have quickly adapted to this changing landscape. As per the India Book Market report 2015 by Nielson, nearly 70 per cent of publishers in India have digitised their content to produce e-books and other forms of digitised content. At Oxford University Press, India, we have made substantial investments to build and augment our digital portfolio. A good example of our response to consumer needs is our award-winning digital product called Oxford Educate, which is an exciting aid that integrates an e-book with interactive teaching tools and learning materials.

How would you summarise OUP&’s contribution to India&’s education eco-system?

Oxford University Press, which is a department of the University of Oxford, has a longstanding presence in India spanning more than a century now. Generations of learners have benefited from OUP world-class learning materials developed as part of its rigorous publishing programme. In fulfilling the University&’s objective to further research, scholarship and education, OUP India today publishes over 400 new books and revised editions every year and is investing in the development of path-breaking digital solutions for the benefit of learners. OUP India&’s publishing programme covers school courses, higher education texts, academic and reference works, titles of general interest, bilingual dictionaries, atlases, adult ELT materials and digital and assessment products.

As part of its commitment to the education eco-system, OUP India facilitates about 1,000 teacher training workshops every year through experienced trainers, covering over half a million teachers year-on-year. Further, OUP India works closely with authors, researchers and academicians to research and develop best-in-class content.

Tell us about your presence at the recent 40th International Kolkata Book Fair? What was the reaction from visitors?

Oxford University Press was delighted to be a part of the 40th International Kolkata Book Fair. Every year we endeavour to showcase OUP&’s vast range of world-class titles from school, higher education, trade and academic segments at this important book fair. In recent years we have incorporated a digital corner in our stall space to demonstrate our digital products and services for the benefit of students, teachers and other visitors. OUP has always had a great response from book lovers in Kolkata who have appreciated our books for their well-curated content, illustrations and reader-friendliness.

Finally, what are some of the anticipated changes that will impact the education landscape?

Digital technology has been a major disruption in education that has brought about a lot of positives. In a related context, there is going to be lot more focus on assessments in the near future. Measurement of learning outcomes is going to be the next big challenge and good quality assessment solutions will be in demand. Formative assessments are more likely to be preferred over summative forms and educators will increasingly demand proof of learning outcomes. “Learning apps” is another space to watch out for. 

 

Oxford University Press constantly working on new editions and catering to arising needs.