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Last Updated : Aug 27, 2018 05:37 PM IST | Source:

How to make massive open online courses more effective?

The flexible-learning module enables candidates to gather knowledge on-the-go in sync with their preferences

Moneycontrol Contributor @moneycontrolcom
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Sumit Kumar

In the 21st century, technology plays a very important part in facilitating learning and education. Traditional classrooms have drastically changed with the integration of technology-aided learning mechanisms like smart boards, online education platforms, virtual reality and augmented reality.

MOOC or massive open online course was introduced almost a decade back but gained popularity only in the last few years as a major part of distance learning. Any open online platform which provides online courses to the consumer in form of video lectures, readings and case studies, problem sets and forums is MOOC.


Online courses have become more appealing as they are readily accessible with a large pool of available content. Moreover what makes MOOC’s standout is the fact that they are not defined by rigid timelines. The flexible-learning module enables candidates to gather knowledge on the go in sync with their preferences. Earlier, MOOCs consisted of only text material but has now evolved to visual content in the form of videos and presentations, mock tests and podcasts which gives a new dimension to the process of acquiring knowledge.

While MOOCs attracts and connects millions of learners from different parts of world, in India there are many private organizations that provide MOOCs for both free and a minimum charge. The government of India in 2014 introduced a platform ‘Swayam’ to make ‘distance learning online education’ accessible to a larger audience, especially the most disadvantaged. The objective of the initiative was to achieve three principles of the education policy, access, equity and quality.

The success of MOOCs depends on several factors-self motivation of the individual, internet penetration, infrastructure accessibility, evaluation process and certification. But in developing countries like India, lack of tight-knit internet infrastructure and varied language usage are the major barriers which obstruct the continuity and completion of the courses.

Under MOOCs, most of the courses are mostly offered in English and often the translation to multiple languages increases the overall delivery cost. MOOCs have a standardized content and cannot be personalized to one’s calibre which results in low completion rate and high dropout rates.

Even though MOOCs are definitely a disruptive innovation in the learning process, it is neither a replacement nor a threat to the conventional classroom learning. As a matter of fact, the advantage that MOOCs brings to the table should be leveraged with the traditional form to fully maximize the learning process.

As the world is gravitating towards specialized and new capabilities, traditional learning mechanisms do not suffice to create employable talent. The need of hour is to adopt a more integrated learning mechanism to create a productive workforce.

MOOCs can be effective in following ways:

If blended with other forms of learning:- MOOCs when blended with apprenticeships and on-the-job training creates more impact. While on-the-job training provides the practical experience, MOOCs will be useful in imparting conceptual knowledge. Undergoing apprenticeship, an apprentice spends majority of time on floor and has limited time to attend classes. MOOCs substitute physical classroom with an online classroom which provides the flexibility to learn at their own convenience and time.

Leading to a qualification: - Due to inaccessibility to schools and universities, many students are deprived of quality education. Providing qualifications can be the driving force for an individual to take up MOOCs and complete the course. With the UGC revamping guidelines for online education, reputed private and state universities should be encouraged to offer degree and post graduate courses with MOOCs.

MOOCs Forum: - Even though most online education platforms provide MOOC forums, it is still a very isolated process with a distinct lack of interactive group discussions. MOOC forums need to be in a form of global virtual classrooms with more animated exchange and generation of ideas influenced by people from various industries and cultures.

MOOCs being part of credit framework of universities: - Universities need to increasingly focus on including MOOCs as a part of their credit system. This will boost the preference for the course. To ensure quality, a proper evaluation process can be put and maintained by the universities.

If used wisely, MOOCs provide a distinct versatility which can solve a lot of systematic problems faced by the industry. While academicians and regulators in India have reviewed regulations and guidelines for online courses, however they have restricted it to only higher education and institutions with accreditation. Due consideration should be given to blending vocational training and apprenticeships with MOOCs for the larger purpose of enhancing the employability prospects. That’s how MOOCs can massify learning.

The writer is Vice President-NETAP, TeamLease Services

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First Published on Aug 27, 2018 05:37 pm

tags #Economy #HR

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