Tuesday, December 09, 2014

IITs and IIMs to offer online courses

Premier institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are planning to go the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) way, in the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi planning an ambitious launch of the Swayam Bharat programme.

While IIT-Bombay and IIM-Bangalore have already announced the launch of MOOCs with overseas partners, IIM-Calcutta could be next in line, with the institute submitting a proposal to the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD). IIT-Kanpur is developing its own platform for MOOCs called MOOKIT, which might soon start competing with popular international MOOC platforms like edX and Coursera.

"MOOCs and  online delivery is clearly the future," says IIM-C Director Saibal Chattopadhyay. IIT-B is currently trying out two courses, the basic computer programming course for undergraduates and a thermodynamics course, in the MOOCs mode. "More are planned. There have been multiple meetings with MHRD and IIT Bombay expects to be a very active partner in the government's initiative," says Narayan Rangaraj, Dean — Academic Programmes.

Apart from working on MOOKIT that will help delivering the MOOCs, IIT-Kanpur is also engaged in developing MOOCs around verticals like agriculture and computer science, says TV Prabhakar, professor at the institute. IIT-Kanpur has just wrapped up its MOOC on MOOCs programme where over 2,300 students participated and is currently offering two more MOOC programmes. It is also running a 'MOOC on Mobiles'. The interest in MOOCs among premier institutions is being attributed to a heightened interest in online education by the new government.

"It is a clear mandate from the government as in the last Budget, Rs. 100 crore (Rs. 1 billion) was allocated to online education for MOOCs and virtual classrooms," says Rohin Kapoor, Senior Manager (Education Practice) at Deloitte. MOOCs might also help achieve the target of training 500 million people by 2022, he adds.

IIM-Bangalore is planning to launch courses on the edX platform in 2015. The institute is also planning to engage around 15 per cent of its faculty to deliver MOOCs over the next two years, according to its director, Sushil Vachani. IIM-Indore and IIT-Gandhinagar have been running broadband distance learning programmes and are now keen on running some courses on the MOOC platform. "We are looking forward to the creation of a MOOCs platform by MHRD, and plan to use it," says IIM-Indore's Director Rishikesha Krishnan. IIT-Patna is planning to start flipped classrooms wherein a student can study material on MOOCs and then attend a live class anywhere in the country.

"Only to some extent do MOOCs bridge the skills gap, since it's a one-way communication. However, it can be successful in a flipped model as it will enhance learning and build a platform for collaborative discussions," says Ajai Chowdhry, founder of HCL, who also teaches at IIT-Patna. Like IIT-Kanpur, IIT-Kharagpur too is working on solutions around MOOCs. It is developing automatic programmes to grade assignments in MOOC programmes. "We are also working on 'learning analytics', which will help us track the students' pattern of learning. Both these programmes should make MOOCs more interactive," says Plaban Kumar Bhowmick, assistant professor at IIT-Kharagpur's Centre for Educational Technology.

Working on MOOCs, NPTEL, which is closely working with IIT-Madras, launched its first course on programming algorithms and data structures this year and will be launching eight new courses in January including humanities. "We've also introduced the element of proctored examinations wherein students who get 50 per cent in their online examinations are eligible to sit for an exam at our centres all over the country," says Prathap Haridoss, NPTEL coordinator and professor at IIT-Madras. NPTEL provides an online certification at the end of the exam, where IIT representatives act as invigilators.

IIT-Guwahati (IIT-G) has proposed two courses for the Swayam Bharat Platform (managed by IIT-B). IIT-G is also partnering with IIT-M for NPTEL MOOCs. It has participated in the two courses already conducted by IIT-M under NPTEL.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), December 9, 2014
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