MOOCs , the face of new education system in India?

By Anant Agarwal, CEO, EdX
MOOCs , the face of new education system in India?

One thing that both supporters and critics of online education agree on is that, the MOOC movement has ignited a spirited conversation about the future of higher education. In this fast-paced world, how many professionals really have the time to go back to school, to specialize on their skills set? This is where learning through MOOCs is most effective. It is easy, time conserving and money saving. MOOCs are now continuing to develop for the better and industry professionals are probably gaining the most out of it. The educational system is now more efficient and delivers a better outcome. As colleges and universities see the impact of MOOCs on learning, more blended classrooms are incorporated into the curriculum. Student satisfaction levels have risen, along with professors who are free to spend more time on one-on-one and group interaction with students and on research. MOOCs are now helping to unbundle education and create a culture of lifelong learning. Students have the advantage to take courses whenever they like, to pursue new knowledge and skills. MOOCs are closing the skills gap between education and employment as well.

India has a pool of untapped talent in various institutions. However, there is more demand than brick-and-mortar institutions can accommodate at this time. The country has large number of students who do not have access to quality education or lack access to high-quality resources. These areas are where, MOOCS increase access to education for students who are not in universities and promote education like that in universities. For the students who do not have access to schools and education, online courses are a great alternative. Moreover, for students who already have access to teachers and access to learning, MOOCs only improves the quality of their education. Increasing and improving education access, for students from all aspects, online learning is a rising tide today, lifting all boats.

Education has always been promoted in our society as the key to a good job. One way employers measure the potential value of a candidate is their educational background. Skilled workforce populations are on the rise. What keep these professionals at bay are courses online, courses that offer a necessary competitive edge in any market. Continuous education is exceptionally important in today's job market and that is what MOOCs offer, to professionals who do not really have the time to go back to school. These courses work with industry and university leaders to ensure that standards of quality and rigor are attached to any certification. Informed by research and designed by educators and professionals, MOOCs cover relevant concepts. A well-executed MOOC can unlock creative thinking, inspire innovation, and accelerate career mobility. MOOCs are already reshaping how employers evaluate candidates, and how people prepare for employment. With fast moving technologies, there are also increasing skills gaps between what employers are looking for and the kind of education many of the universities provide.

Online learning and virtual education is the latest tool in the educational arsenal available to learners and teachers. However it does not replace in-person learning, it only augments it. It gives an opportunity to students to study their four-year course in a much time conserving and budget saving manner. Students can come after taking a one-year course online, they would then have to spend only two years in the campus and spend the final year in the industry, earning while studying. This is how MOOCs have been building bridges to close in the gap between students and jobs.

Online learning tools and technologies are advancing at a rapid pace. They satisfy almost every aspect of demand and can allow a country's educational system to move from bricks-and-mortars to bits-and-bytes might. It creates pathways to economic opportunity and upward mobility through apprenticeships and job placement in technology. MOOCs are still an emerging field but it will certainly evolve and change in the next 5 to 10 years. However, right now MOOCs look committed to increase access to quality education, to improve teaching and learning on campus and to conduct research into how students learn. It will continue to reach more and more learners and provide them with high quality online education .

Anant Agarwal
Anant Agarwal is the CEO of edX. He holds a Ph.D. from Stanford and a bachelor's from IIT Madras. He holds a Guinness World Record for the largest microphone array, and is an author of the textbook "Foundations of Analog and Digital Electronic Circuits." He is a winner of the Maurice Wilkes prize for computer architecture, and MIT's Smullin and Jamieson prizes for teaching. He was also named in Forbes' list of top 15 education innovators in 2012.