Educating the Masses with Massive Open Online Courses
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MOOC 2017-04-13

Educating the Masses with Massive Open Online Courses

The Indian MOOC market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 19.05 per cent during the period 2016-2020 as reported by Technavio.

By Feature Writer
Educating the Masses with Massive Open Online Courses

It is a recent development that MOOCs has emerged as one of the hotly debated and discussed topics in the higher education system. Before starting with the success of MOOCs, let’s first make it clear what MOOCs really stands for! According to the Oxford Dictionary, MOOCs is defined as ‘A course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people.’ Therefore any student sitting anywhere across the globe can get easy access to courses being taught at the best universities of the world like Harvard, MIT and many others, if only he/she has a computer with a high speed internet connection. Seeing the rising trend many universities have started offering a number of online courses for the benefit of interested students.

Growth of MOOCs
MOOCs have the potential to create massive prospects and opportunities for students, employers and educators. They are not only bringing education to more people, but they are also tailoring the learning experience to meet the needs of tomorrow's students, universities, and employers.

The main factor behind the success of this astounding technology’s development is the rising popularity of the consumer devices such as Smart phones, Tablets, Laptops, wearable gadgets and eReaders. Along with this, reasonable prices of high speed Internet and WiFi is another factor for MOOCs development. Therefore, with the ever increasing number of connected devices, MOOCs has the potential to change the conventional method of higher education through widespread uptake of distance learning.

Talking about MOOCs, Anant Agarwal, CEO, edX says, “MOOCs have clearly been a game-changing initiative. On edX.org we currently offer more than 1,300 courses, and we see an overwhelming response from learners across all ages keen to engage more with online education.”

On the same lines Arunav Sinha, Head of Global Communications, Coursera shares, “What online education provides is not necessarily a substitute of college education, it is actually a powerful complement and a way for individuals to continue learning throughout their career, keeping them updated in the face of change both in technology and in a dynamic job market.”

MOOCs gaining foothold across India
As reported in British Council Report, India has a low rate of enrollment in higher education, at only 18 per cent, compared with 26 per cent in China and 36 per cent in Brazil. The supply and demand gap that exists in India can be bridged by education-focused technology companies providing MOOC courses.The online education throughout India is becoming increasingly popular as a career accelerator, particularly in technical fields. where edX can be considered as a leading provider of MOOCs, Coursera can be considered as one of the leading edtech companies.edX has achieved significant successes in the fast-growing Indian market with 73 per cent growth in registered users from India over the past year. With this, the registered user base for edX learners in India has crossed the 1 million mark.Similarly for Coursera, initially in 2014 it had 6,80,000 users. However, the user base grew by 70 per cent to a massive 1.1 million in August 2015.

Indians embracing MOOCs
The last couple of years have seen a sudden spurt in the online education model. Browsing LinkedIn, we can come across thousand of profiles listing Stanford, Harvard etc as part of their educational backgrounds, based solely on completion of online courses offered by these universities. Moreover, many reputed companies like Infosys, Google, Wipro etc have started recruiting Indians on the basis of their online-education credentials only. This shows the growth and success of MOOCs in higher education as well as employment scenario.

Agarwal attributes, “At edX, we are embracing the unbundled approach to education. EdX is collaborating with Universities in India and around the world and with various channel partners to offer blended learning and imparting job-ready skills backed by edX certifications and pathways to university programs to make Indian students more employable.”

Eyeing the Future
Globally, India has become the second largest market for e-learning after the US. In fact, a study by IBEF predicts the e-learning sector, which is currently pegged at US$ 2-3 billion, is expected to touch US$ 40 billion by 2017. Also, the increased government initiatives in this space make its future promising.Sinha of Coursera predicts the future saying, “India, with its massive potential, is a very important market for us – the second largest in terms of both learners (1.8m) and revenue after the US. The growing acceptance by learners as well as employers, we predict the online courses will soon be at par with traditional means of education.”

Similarly Agarwal foresees, “Up till now, quality education – and in some cases, any higher education at all – has been the privilege of the few. We see MOOCs as the great democratizer, and believe that in the future, economics, social status, gender or geography will not determine a student’s access to education or opportunity for success. We also envision a continuous education system – one that doesn’t stop after four years of college. Our vision for the future is to continue to work with universities, institutions, faculty, researchers, and students to innovate and transform education, to make education accessible to everyone, and to improve on-campus learning through research.”

To conclude, it can be said that MOOCs still has a long way to go. A plethora of issues shall need to be resolved till it can become ubiquitous. Stakeholders shall also need to work actively towards bringing in variety of end users.

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