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  • Writer's pictureAtalbihari Baddar

MOOC, Massive Open Online Courses, a popular e-Learning medium amid COVID19

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

Prior to COVID19, many educational institutes had initiated the online mode of teaching, in form of guest sessions, collaborative activities across schools, but to a limited extent.

Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC) user base has seen a gradual growth so far and their credibility is becoming equivalent to a course from regular university. A lot of MOOC platforms where launched in the past decade but very few of them are able to make a mark and being considered as reputed ones.

Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay

MOOC platforms gained steep popularity during the COVID19 outbreak as many working professionals took the lockdowns as an opportunity to gain certifications related to variety of subjects related to their domain or related ones at a minimal cost.

The Indian Government has already started initiatives like SWAYAM, a MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) platform, which hosts educational multimedia content of all courses taught in classrooms from Grade 9 to post-graduation. It can be accessed by anyone, from anywhere, any time at convenience. The content is broadly divided in to video session, reading material, self-assessment tests and an online discussion board to discuss queries.

An extended initiative named SWAYAM PRABHA, has a group of 32 DTH channels devoted to telecasting of high-quality educational programmes on 24X7 basis using the GSAT-15 satellite. They broadcast new content everyday for few hours, repeat 5 more times in a day, allowing the students to choose the time of their convenience. The contents are provided by NPTEL, IITs, UGC, CEC, IGNOU, NCERT and NIOS assuring the quality.

DIKSHA is the National Digital Infrastructure for Teachers that focuses on all requirements for teachers, as lesson plans, concept videos, worksheets, and so on which can be created in a collaborative manner on the platform and made accessible to all. DIKSHA is a unique initiative which leverages existing highly scalable and flexible digital infrastructures, while keeping teachers at the center.

The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) provides e-education through web and video courses. Several universities, educational institutions and management schools have recently started experimenting with video lectures and webinars.

Apart from India’s very own SWAYAM, At the international level, there are other quality MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) such as edX and Coursera. edX, founded by Harvard and MIT, is educating over 20 million students. Coursera offers more than 500 courses from 100+ universities including some of the best ones like Stanford, Princeton, Bocconi, Centrale Paris.

Coursera is being used by more than 60 million education enthusiasts. The platform hosts thousands of courses ranging from traditional subjects to the latest areas of artificial intelligence.

Udacity’s undertaking is to give access to knowledge from all the best universities around the world. They are not specifically attached to one particular university. They have courses focused on science and emerging technologies.

Udemy, Inc. is an American online learning platform aimed at working professionals and students. As of today, the platform claims to have more than 35 million students and 57,000 instructors teaching over 130,000 courses in around 65 languages.

Unlike MOOC platforms like EdX and Coursera, Canvas, developed by Instructure, Inc an educational technology company based in Utah is not only limited to prestigious educational institutions. It has courses from a much wider selection of less known universities too. This strategy makes the courses more accessible and less unapproachable in case the learner want to understand a completely new field.

Image by Atalbihari Baddar | In photo Shantanu Baddar

While many MOOC platforms take no fees while learning, as a business model, MOOC platforms are adapting many revenue-generating strategies like, offering fee-based courses which require students to pay a fee for access to graded assignments, Specializations, a sequence of courses with a final project, and CourseCertificateswhere students pay a fee in exchange for the opportunity to earn a verified certificate. Few of them may even allow you to take the entire course, but charge you for certificate.

MOOC platforms are going to grow and have potential to be strong alternative to education segments like specific skill based education for school students as well as executive education for working professionals.

By, Atalbihari Baddar


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