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The Rise of MOOCs and Their Utility

The Rise of MOOCs and Their Utility

The world is going through a technological revolution and the education sector too has seen a development in its infrastructure. Ever heard of Coursera or Udemy? If you are a student in this day and age, I am certain you have come across these platforms and even taken advantage of the free courses to upgrade your existing skill-set. It is these platforms that are called MOOCs. Let us know about them in detail-

What are MOOCs?

A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is an educational platform on the internet that enables distance learning worldwide to an unlimited number of students. MOOCs were established in 2008 but gained popularity as a useful study tool in 2012. They were designed to keep up with a world where information was everywhere, thanks to the internet. MOOCs are a site for collaboration and connection for engagement in various learning processes. Students and teachers come together on MOOC platforms to share information through notes and digital sources.

These are a few characteristics of the MOOC:-

  • They are accessible to everyone irrespective of their class, caste, gender or race. If a person has access to the internet, they will have access to these platforms. Most of these courses charge a nominal fee for a certificate; the content is, however, free. Moreover, they are beneficial for those looking to restart their academic journeys. Not all of us are fortunate enough to be able to pay the expensive college fee. There are many other limitations which prevent individuals from getting higher education. The introduction of MOOCs has ensured that education will be free and equal.
  • Engagement is a key feature of the MOOC. Bill Gates in an interview rightly points out that although all the information is available in textbooks, unless a student is highly motivated, they will not venture to read it all. MOOC solves this problem by allowing for a classroom-like curricular structure and in some cases discussion panels. This also provides networking opportunities for its pupils from all over the world. Certain courses also issue specialised reading materials to its participants.
  • Information is distributed all over the internet due to the functioning of the MOOCs in diverse packages, be it academic PDFs, free e-books or tweets.
  • MOOCs promote life-long learning and independent thought processes. The educational structure is firm but with enough leniency and scope for discussions that it avoids the pitfalls of restrictive ideological pedagogy. The fact that the participants themselves come from diverse backgrounds encourages inclusivity in all its aspects. Moreover, the students get the freedom to choose their own timings and attend the class recordings from the comfort of their homes.

 What is SWAYAM?

Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) is India’s national MOOC platform, which was launched in its fully-functional avatar in 2017. It is a part of the Digital India initiative of the Government of India that focuses on escalating the rate of development of the country through technology. Professor A.K. Bakshi, Chairman of the Centre for E-Learning, said, “These online courses have been developed by a team of senior academicians and are expected to enhance the gross enrolment ratio in higher education without compromising with the quality. These courses will also help in bridging the digital divide in the country.” SWAYAM has a catalogue of around 2,000 courses, which are taught by 1,250 highly qualified instructors. The courses are completely free of cost and target Grade 11-12, undergraduate and postgraduate scholars.

However, the greatest benefit that SWAYAM provides is its integration into the Indian public education framework via a transferable credit system. The University Grants Commission has laid down that students will be able to complete up to 20% of their degree through this platform. Institutions pick SWAYAM courses twice every year that they would grant credits for and those the students can opt for in the course of their semester/term.

Limitations of MOOCs in India:

  • India does not yet have the technological infrastructure to provide access to online education in the rural areas.
  • Not all MOOC courses award degree certificates after completion, which makes it hard for students to provide proof of their skills to companies during the hiring process.
  • The progress a student makes is limited to his own motivation and ability to think critically.
  • Since MOOCs are a relatively new tool of education, employers doubt the quality of training provided.

Advantages of MOOC learning

  • Lectures can be accessed any time as per convenience.
  • College-level courses can be availed while maintaining a work-life balance.
  • No pressure to perform immediately as the schedule is flexible.
  • Group communication opportunities allow for the development of team-working skills.
  • Higher education at minimal cost.
  • Greater focus on understanding rather than rote learning.

Other Popular MOOC sites in India:

We hope this was helpful for you! Let us know about your experience with MOOCs in the comments below.



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