India has lot to do with Education and we have a self-proclaimed authority over learning. Yes! We mean it when we talk of real learning as the foundation of true education has its roots in our civilization.
Ages have passed and we still have kept the blend of traditional classroom alive. We have faced lot many challenges and education has not been a part of 'preferred goodies' in the budgets. However, this has not discouraged those who believe that the tables are meant to turn. It is the turn of the educators now. They have the overloaded stock of technology to get it integrated into pedagogy.
When we see this drastic change into modern day teaching methodologies, we seldom regret that we wasted so much time in the narrow-mindedness of educational thinkers, who probably designed models for those who were resourceless and under-privileged. Now the coin has changed it colours and the sides have changed as well. The immigrants are turning into natives; the under-dogs are coming to limelight and accomplishing success; and the resourcelessness is replaced with shared resourcefulness. While talking of SWAYAM and its global implications, we need to understand who really are the caretakers of this new horizon of learning? In an age of OER and Creative Commons, the contours of ownership have changed drastically. Educators are more empowered now. The two caretakers, I wish to talk about are the educational institutions-
1. Managed by Government 2. Private Institutions (acknowledged and monitored by the government).
The beginning of MOOCs and Online Learning belongs to the government sector and there is no surprise in this. Each nation has to invest in the beginning to develop a solid-trusted foundation. This is something which was the first requirement when economies breathed behind bars. The arrival of globalisation and liberalisation of economies has brought expansion of education as well. It is not just the exchange of students or teachers that has happened; the advent of technology in education has also been a result of this opening. The interaction between education and technology has no conclusion and in this regard, MOOCs and Open Educational Resources provide significant contributions.
What are MOOCs? MOOCs are 'Massive Open Online Courses' and delivered online. These are primarily meant to expand the reach of education. It is for the left-behinds as well as for those who demand more learning- easily accessible. The 'Massive' feature empowers MOOCs to reach thousands and millions through an internet connection. It can also be understood as an 'Educative Playlist' of videos which has been customised as per a defined curriculum and has some checks to authenticate reception of content. Any institution/organisation or even an individual can launch a MOOC and can grant an acknowledgement certificate to the attendees. At present the acceptance for these certification is limited and even debated, sometimes, argued upon as well. Hopefully, we shall achieve the 'Credit' status for such certifications as well.
There is a future in MOOCs! They allow us to see beyond the concrete walls and present our quality educational resources to the world, considering the vast planet as a small classroom. There is no looking back now and if we want to discuss about something in MOOCs or Online education, we need to discuss Future of Online Learning. Internet Based Platforms are going to be more integral then whiteboards and chalks and chairs and desks. Teacher are developing themselves as super-teachers and the governments are in a healthy race to bring digital colours to education. US has already developed itself as the godfather of technology-enabled teaching & learning by innovating various pedagogical models and technical tools. Now, India, being the 'Young Nation' of the world has the best opportunity to become the flag-bearer of Innovative Learning. The current government has launched SWAYAM and Digital India accordingly.
In a country of millions who are deprived of even primary education and quality higher education, online learning can prove a panacea. SWAYAM, the Indian platform of MOOCs has been launched and is projected to be a landmark. SWAYAM Bharat Program is managed by IIT-B and has collaboration from most of the IITs and other government institutions. The HRD Ministry, which considers it as a pilot project along with Skill development, is opening up new horizons for learners through NPTEL and National Knowledge Network. Consortium of Educational Communication is also there and has come a long way to facilitate e-learning. NMEICT, SAKSHAT, CEMCA of Commonwealth of Learning, CIET of NCERT and many other strong hands are there to work for the accomplishment of this mission. In January Delhi University also shared its intent to launch MOOCs. However, there is something which is still lacking.
To think of this 'lack of comprehensiveness', we need to see what mission and what investment Indian government is making. Hundreds of crores are being given for ICT enabled teaching-learning and virtual classrooms. With a mission to train more than 500 million people, it seems a giant task and the fighters are many, but alike. The IITs and the associated bodies have been establishing themselves as the caretakers and will keep on doing good, no doubt. But why we are keeping the Sincere and Skilled Private Universities away from this. Individuals are eager to join but the walls of the IITs are too high to jump in. Private universities, with the above set of qualities, can deliver more skills and quality content. Global exposure is much stronger in such institutions and the faculty may also be an asset.
SWAYAM must be opened to those who are skilled and are determined to contribute to the vision and mission of Indian government. There should not be any compromise on the side of the quality, similarly, there should not be any delay just because we have whims about private universities. There are institutions to deliver content and resources.
Following are some quotes I have come across while reading about MOOC and the Future of Innovative Learning:
While MOOCs have demonstrated their value in terms of affordability and accessibility, they have yet to fundamentally disrupt higher education as a whole despite their much-heralded potential.
Indian enrolments are also consistently on the rise and are the second highest for most MOOC providers such as edX and Coursera. For Coursera, which now has more than 6.7 million users worldwide, India is its second largest user base after the US. (Source)
MOOCs are surely the way forward for India which faces the shortage of good faculty. Pramath Raj Sinha, Founder & Trustee, Ashoka University, says, “Using traditional faculty-student ratios, India will need over a million new faculty in the next 15 years to meet its gross enrolment ratio targets.” (Source)
Anant Agarwal, President, edX, a MOOC platform founded by MIT and Harvard University, says, “MOOCs are the great democratiser. Anyone can register and take courses, as there is no application process, and no costs.”
"Only to some extent do MOOCs bridge the skills gap, since it's a oneway communication. However, it can be successful in a flipped model as it will enhance learning and build a platform for collaborative discussions," says Ajai Chowdhry, founder of HCL, who also teaches at IIT Patna. (Quote Src)
"It is a clear mandate from the government as in the last Budget, Rs 100 crore was allocated to online education for MOOCs and virtual classrooms," says Rohin Kapoor, senior manager (Education practice) at Deloitte. MOOCs might also help achieve the target of training 500 million people by 2022, he adds. (Quote Src)