Online courses and virtual education laboratories are proving valuable in the resource-limited developing world, where there are many more potential learners than can be accommodated by the pool of experienced classroom teachers and institutions offering scientific education (see Nature 495, 160–163; 2013 and Nature 499, 268–270; 2013).

India has developed its own innovative examples of freely available e-learning resources. Scientific-education materials, such as those supplied by the Sakshat Virtual Labs and the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning, are also available to a global audience (S. Ray et al. PLoS Biol. 10, e1001353; 2012).

In developing countries, the anticipated benefits of such resources extend beyond distance learning. Science and technology skills can fuel a knowledge-driven economy, narrowing a country's poverty gap and leading to national prosperity that is embedded in sustainable practices.