Education has always been the emblem of contemporary social, cultural and economic transformation. With the emergence of Covid-19 as a pandemic and the dire circumstances that resulted from it, leading to the closure of conventional learning methods, have brought a new dimension to education. Online learning had to be the alternative to minimize educational waste and technology was our savior in such a dilemma. Educators around the world, including our own, have moved to synchronous (live or real-time T / L supported by videoconferencing) and asynchronous (self-paced) teaching modes for the continuity and dissemination of the contents.
In today’s world, an individual can obtain education through different modes which can be formal in nature in which the education is delivered at a particular location in a controlled environment such as timetable, observation strict discipline, etc. or a non-formal mode of education in which education is provided to learners at a convenient time and a certificate can be issued upon completion of education. Online learning plays a vital role in the growth and expansion of education of any nation in contemporary times. Today, the electronic media of a day are inundated with advertisements from various online learning platforms featuring mainly sports superstars offering various online courses. MOOCs are one of those educational tools that don’t work through traditional conventions that are essentially restrictive in nature, with restrictions on admission, attendance, exams given and taken over the course of a year or so. restrictions on the subject combinations for a particular qualification. In this article, we’ll take a look at how MOOCs may have changed the face of education in the few years since its existence, particularly during the pandemic which almost turned three years old. learning.
The term MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. A MOOC is an online course intended for unlimited participation and open access via the web. Massive refers to giving the possibility to create links between geographically dispersed participants (students), Open does not just mean free, but refers to open access, open programs and self-directed learning outcomes, In line emphasizes the abundant availability of material on the Internet, and Course referring to the structure of the online course. MOOCs are courses that are taught online to large numbers of students, with minimal faculty involvement. Typically, students watch short video lectures and complete assignments that are marked either by machines or by other students. A key feature of a MOOC is flexibility so that students can choose their level of participation without fees or prerequisites other than internet access and interest in the chosen course. The term MOOC was invented in 2008 by Dave Cormier of the University of Prince Edward Island The first MOOC was a course on “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (CCK08)” in 2008 created by educators George Siemens and Stephen Downes. It was designed for a group of 25 enrolled students paying tuition fees to earn credits. The first MOOC was introduced in 2008 and became a popular learning mode in 2012 (Wikipedia).
There are two philosophies that distinguish the distinct types of MOOCs. One that emphasizes the connectivist philosophy, and the other that looks like more traditional courses. To distinguish the two, Stephen Downes proposed the terms “cMOOC” and “xMOOC”.
cMOOC: c means connectivist and are based on a connectivist pedagogy, which means that the material must be aggregate (rather than preselected), remixable, reusable, and go forward (i.e. upgradeable material should be targeted to future learning). CMOOC instructional design approaches attempt to connect learners with each other to answer questions and / or collaborate on common projects.
xMOOC: x stands for extended and is based on a more behavioral approach is the type of learning where learners share ideas and there is only one instructor on the discussion. It emphasizes coordinated assessments and quizzes.
Major players offering MOOCs
Some of the major players currently offering MOOC courses (for profit or not for profit) are:
· edX: a nonprofit effort jointly managed by MIT, Harvard, and Berkeley.
· Coursera: A for-profit company founded by two computer science professors at Stanford offering a very wide range of paid courses.
· Udacity: Another for-profit company founded by a Stanford computer science professor.
· Khan Academy: A nonprofit organization founded by MIT and Harvard graduate Salman Khan.
· Udemy: A for-profit platform that allows anyone to set up a course.
· SWAYAM: This platform is originally from India and also offers several requested academic and industrial skills courses. In collaboration with NPTEL and AICTE, we offer several advanced courses especially after the Covid pandemic which has confined us to our home.
Apart from the above, several other MOOC platforms have been developed by the government. agencies for training purposes like DIKSHA (by NCERT) for teacher training as well as electronic content repository for students and the like by respective universities / colleges for conducting FDP and refresher courses in several interdisciplinary courses for students higher education teachers.
MOOCs have been the most debated topic in education circles for a decade now with extremely polarizing views. Despite this, the real value of MOOCs lies in their ability to open up access to knowledge that was previously the preserve of a small elite. The digital divide remains the obstacle to updating its real objective. It offers an incredible and unique opportunity that would not have existed otherwise with formal modes of education. MOOCs are slowly transforming our teaching and learning processes, especially at the tertiary level, due to the following inherent advantages over standard educational pedagogy:
Scalability: In a conventional setup if the number of students increases in a class we will likely have to reorganize the infrastructure while in the online setup increasing the size of the course bundle is done with a few clicks.
Optimal use of resources: Professors from the best institutions can directly teach thousands of students at a time which otherwise would not have been possible with a formal setup, so is not the best scarce resource.
Removal of constraints: Online courses can help remove systematic barriers such as not being financially strong enough to study abroad, pursue studies while in the workforce, etc., thereby making education accessible to everyone.
At your own pace: thus allowing everyone to study and learn at their own pace and learning style.
The idea behind MOOC is that the Internet is used to make education accessible to as many people as possible, open access being the cornerstone of its philosophy. With the explosion of digital devices like smartphones, it has become easy to access content online, attracting applicants to enroll.
Online courses have been shown to provide valuable educational opportunities for millions of students around the world and have revolutionized learning processes while continuing to evolve over time, but the real conundrum is credibility. Even though MOOCs help penetrate the latest knowledge, but their asynchronous nature makes them mundane as in the case of recorded videos, attention span wreaks havoc on the learner. The learning management systems (LMS) used by the respective institutions where scoring is done by machines or manually, but the lack of proctored exams in most cases is questionable as it has a direct bearing on the quality.
(The author is a writer and columnist. He can be contacted at: [email protected])