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Equalising Educational Oppurtunities through MOOCs

Updated: Aug 5, 2020

“The most radical alternative to school would be a network or service which gave each man the same opportunity to share his current concern with others motivated by the same concern.”

Ivan Illich, perhaps, was suggesting need for equitable sharing of resources among the pupil through networking of institutions with use of technology. This could have been a ‘radical thought’ then, but today technology has created global learning communities making learning through, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) possible in real time. At a time, when equity and access to quality education is a global concern for the sustainable development, MOOCs offer an excellent opportunity especially in resource deficit South Asia. MOOCs also extend choices of courses and reach of teachers, allowing students to tailor their degrees based on their interest and the requirements of the job industry.

MOOCs since 2008, when Dave Cormier coined the term, are still seen with an eye of suspicion and relegated to the fringes of Open Distance Learning, which saw limited success in South Asia with employers mostly discriminating between degrees from regular and open universities. Today, however, things are different. On one hand the demand for quality higher education is increasing, but the availability of quality educational resources are not keeping pace with it. We are also experiencing an exponential increase in technology penetration making remarkable improvements in the lives of ordinary people. Be it receiving News, booking train tickets, purchasing apparels, hiring radio taxis or renting apartments, everything is happening on a smart phone. The availability of technologies is causing convergence of Open Distance Learning and regular classroom teaching.

While Open Universities are making use of ICT to reach students, the regular Universities are offering online courses to increase choices. This is bound to provide a massive fillip to MOOCs. With the UGC, in India, encouraging universities to accept up to 20% of the courses for various degrees through MOOCs, one can clearly see the arrival of a new era of education - The MOOCs – era. The New Education Policy 2020 (NEP2020) also lays stress on online teaching. High speed Wi-Fi and high penetration of smart phones, tabs and laptops are the two pillars on which MOOCs will flourish and will soon be the preferred style of education for the ‘Generation Y’, who fiddle with smart phones even before uttering their first syllable. From the ‘Information Technology Age’, we are stepping into the ‘Knowledge Societies Age’, where knowledge will be shared through “Knowledge networks” built with MOOCs as their building blocks.

MOOCs offer an excellent opportunity to share our resource. But we have dearth of academics equipped with right expertise to create and offer quality MOOCs. Therefore, we have a huge task to create awareness and expertise within educators to hone their technology skills to meet the impending demand of the “MOOCs-era” , that will translate into unlimited access to quality education for one and all irrespective of their geographical location.

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