Why Indian Institutions need to leverage MOOC
Although the Government of India has laid down an expenditure of almost Rs. 30,000 Crore, with an increase of more than 7% over last year on higher education in this year’s budget, they really didn’t allot any funds specifically towards MOOC.
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What is MOOC?
MOOC is the short form for “Massive Open Online Course” which is a term that was coined in 2008 by Dave Cormier, an educational researcher with the University of Prince Edward Island, in the USA. MOOC is an online educational tool that aims at providing online education, across various topics to an unlimited number of participants, usually without a charge .Today there are hundreds of thousands of students, all over the world that are benefitting by educating themselves through the network of MOOC offered by many different universities, companies and organisations engaged in the field of distance and continuing education.
How does MOOC work
So there are willing teachers and willing students for the courses that these teachers offer, facilitated by an education technology company, such as Coursera, EdX, Shaw Academy etc that brings them together and takes care of the logistical and liaisons part. Many Universities also offer MOOC facilities through their own websites. It can be thought of as the distance learning platform of yesteryear, only with the help of a computer and internet, and without a charge.
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INDIA and MOOC
India has traditionally been a country with very high importance being paid to academic education. With more than 750 universities, India has among the highest number of students in the world, although the quality of education has always been questionable, especially of the Private and the Smaller Universities not based out of metropolitan cities.
With this staggering difference in the quality of education, MOOC can become a great tool towards bringing quality education to large masses of students with extremely limited resources. It is not surprising that the most well-known MOOC companies, such as Coursera attract a huge number of students from India, and if leveraged efficiently with a visionary overview, MOOC can well and truly revolutionise the education sector in India, quickly and without much monetary resources or infrastructural support.
It is estimated that more than 5000 students enrol in universities in India each day on an average, which is the second highest in the world after China. Also at more than 3% of the GDP, the spending of the Indian state in the higher education is among the highest in the world , although per student spend is still quite low. It is really quite dismal to find that although the Government of India has laid down an expenditure of almost Rs. 30,000 Crore, with an increase of more than 7% over last year on higher education in this year’s budget, they really didn’t allot any funds specifically towards MOOC. It was desirable of the Central Government that has made Skill Development and Entrepreneurship as one of its topmost priorities, to consider MOOC as one of the most efficient mediums to drive theory based skill concepts and to invest in this enterprise in a big way. At the very least ,MOOC should have been given financial provisions in the newly announced HEFA(Higher Education Funding Agency), that has been floated with an first corpus of Rs. 1000 Crore.
It is high time that the Indian Industry that hopes to grow at a scorching pace in the coming years understand the necessity of investing in open platforms for online learning, towards their social responsibility as well as helping to create an educated and skilled workforce.
Let us see why India is poised to become the next MOOC superpower and how Indian Institutions can conveniently, quickly and effectively leverage their ability and experience towards empowering the Indian Students towards varied and effective continuing education:
- Growing Internet Penetration: With the rapidly growing internet user base and awareness, MOOC can reach the different corners of the country and enable students with internet connectivity and a compatible device, which are the only two requirements to enrol in an online course.
- Available accreditation: Indian universities are well recognised all over the world and to that end the accreditation and certifications provided by them in the space of MOOC will be widely acceptable all over the world and within the country. It will give the students and the industry the level of trust and verifiability which is important for the long-term prospects of MOOC
- Long Experience in Continuing and Distance Education: Indian Universities has years of experience in offsite educational programs, with a network of Open Universities and Universities that are already offering web-based tutorials and courses, even using the network connectivity of Television Channels such as Doordarshan etc. It will be relatively easier for the Indian Universities to do the necessary tweaking so that the existing long distance programs can be suitably changed to fit in the MOOC requirements and parameters.
- Use of IT Services: India has among the best IT services companies employing millions of people. If the government of the day collaborates with the existing IT services providers and bring them on board to take the concept of MOOC services throughout the country , it can be quickly and effectively scaled up to a much presence in our education system .
- Young and Literate Population: India has among the highest numbers of University Aged students in the world, which are one of the biggest strengths also of this country, going forward, which also means that there is a huge inherent demand of higher education courses across subjects and specializations. This latent demand can be used to prove the concept of MOOC to different universities and to encourage them to see the value in the proper education of the youngsters who will provide a strong and capable work force to take the country forward, at the same time create name and reputation for the Universities themselves.
- Existing Awareness of MOOC: Indians already constitute one of the biggest groups of students in the existing MOOC providers such as Coursera, Shaw Academy etc .In fact, more than 8% of all students on Coursera and 12% in edX, two of the best known MOOC providers are Indians, bettered only by US and China.Although these companies charge the students for issued certifications, the courses themselves are free.
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It is high time that the Indian Industry that hopes to grow at a scorching pace in the coming years understand the necessity of investing in open platforms for online learning, towards their social responsibility as well as helping to create an educated and skilled workforce. For most big companies, that have been recently mandated to spend at least 2% of their net profit towards Corporate Social Responsibility endeavours (through section 135 and Schedule VII of the companies act), it is a golden opportunity to divert a part of the funds towards MOOC efforts, but it is concerning to note that none have really come forward towards that explicit cause.
The Indian Universities too need to take on the challenge of reaching out to a larger cross section of students by formulating a policy of promoting MOOC. With the recent talks of radical reforms being mooted in the delivery of higher education in this country, it is really a time for the educators to make MOOC a vehicle of mobilising resources towards free and efficient delivery of quality education, especially if CBCS (Choice Based Credit System), is introduced where students are encouraged to take courses of their choice and learn at their own pace. The Universities must also leverage its academic researches and make these available for a wider section of students without a charge.