Friday, June 14, 2013

Transforming Indian Education with MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)

Beginning August 2013 we would be facilitating some MOOCs. 
Here is the message from Program Conceptualisers and Architects

Almost everyone in India is conscious of the importance and urgency of the Challenges in Education and these are reflected in several other parts of the world as well. Some of these are the challenge of numbers, of relevance, of Quality, of access, of costs and of speed. 

There is sometimes a sense of paralysis at the enormity of the challenge and the apparent impossibility of managing conflicting expectations. But we need a change in direction, as suggested in the scenario painted by Edward de Bono.

 “Imagine a ship at sea that is in trouble. The lights keep going out. The engine is faltering. The rudder is unreliable. The first mate is drunk. The crew is very demoralised. The service is appalling. The passengers on the ship are very dissatisfied. Then a new captain and first mate are brought in by helicopter. Very quickly everything changes. The morale of the crew is lifted. Service improves. The engine is fixed. The rudder is fixed. The lights stay on. Everything is fine. 

But the ship is still heading in the wrong direction.” 

The solution to these multiple challenges probably lies in a number of disruptive innovative solutions. These include inculcating self-learning (building on meta-cognition), measuring learning, collaborative and co-operative learning, personalisation of learning and learning analytics. 

However, in addition to new systems or technologies, we need a fundamental change of perspective. Education is seen as the responsibility of the State and the system is based on authority and licenses and permissions to allow education to be transacted in modern times this is unlikely to work. As Henry Maine had said ' as society progresses, it moves from status to contract'. So must the educational system build contractual relationships between the learner and providers of learning as more important than statutory authority. 

A very promising technological and pedagogical model that has received a lot of attention during the last few years and adoption by Stanford, Harvard, Duke and almost 100 of the world's top ranking Universities to teach millions of learners is that of the MOOC. The MOOC is considered on the one hand as a panacea for education and on the other as a defilement of the sanctity of the higher education tradition. The truth will probably lie somewhere in between and we must explore the potential of MOOCs to create a model of simultaneously teaching on-site and off-site learners, using synchronous and a-synchronous teacher learner interactions to deliver high quality learning to large numbers , maybe evolve a model for a classroom of 10,000 learners. 

This event is a step in that direction. We are experimenting here with mounting 10 MOOCs in a variety of subjects, for different target groups delivered by a team of Internationally renowned resource persons. We will be exploring several technological platforms and pedagogical models to find answers to a few interesting questions:

  • What is the right size of a learning cohort that is empowered with technology?
  • What is the right price for tuition?
  • What would be the most appropriate technology platform for mass education?
  • What is the best way to cope with linguistic diversity?
  • What course programs are best delivered as MOOCs?
  • What skill sets must learners have to benefit most from MOOCs?
  • What skill sets must educators acquire to teach effectively with MOOCs?

I welcome and thank all those who are contributing to make this unique exploratory endeavour a success. 

M.M. Pant


  1. Dr Sharma,
    This is nice endeavour.
    I suggest we should first anticipate the approx number of users joining this Indian MOOC session and then deploy a platform.
    I also believe that Modular Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment would be capable to handle all the traffic and very well too.

  2. Hello Ashutosh
    Thanks for your suggestion. Yes, we are experimenting with different platforms and techniques as this shall be a first of its kind in our country.
    With best wishes
    Ramesh Sharma

  3. Definitely education requires proper and smooth interaction between student and teachers. They can share more valuable information with help of online education.
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