MOOCs for global audiences

The Year 2012 was the year of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Several leading platforms for learning, including Coursera, Udacity and EdX Online launched their services during February to April 2013. With these three startups in the technology market, education has somehow been “democratized.” The course content that was available to a handful of people is now available to the global audience.

Today, Coursera has a user base of more than 2.8 million and offers 313 courses from 62 different universities from around the globe while Udacity offers 22 courses in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and EdX offers 32 different courses from universities like Harvard and MIT. Also, EdX on its blog on March 3, 2013 announced that its system will be available open source to ease the usage of technology for education from June 1, 2013. 

These MOOCs can be very beneficial to all those who seek to learn in the true sense. A few courses do offer the certificate of completion; however, most of the courses don’t provide the credentials. The contents that are delivered through these sites are outstanding and the discussion forums and quizzes aid the learning process. In a normal course, students from more than 150 countries sign up and express their opinions over the forums, and these virtual study groups give a unique sense of learning and expand the horizon of the applicability of the contents.

Over the last 11 months, universities in the US have been heavily debating on the new trend of education. At one end of the world, technology is growing rapidly and the debate is on whether the courses should be open and free while, unfortunately, guess papers and guidebooks are all sold out in the market as exams approach.
There are countless points which could be discussed and scrutinized to see how outdated a teaching/learning mechanism we have. Even when we compare the two leading universities of the country, Tribhuvan University (TU) and Kathmandu University (KU), there is huge gap between their teaching and learning methodologies.
All universities, professors and students must feel the urgency of sensing the global educational trends. Everybody cannot afford Ivy Leagues but they can afford to sit in front of a computer and taste the way teaching/learning is done.

However, initiatives from universities alone are not capable enough for the change that we want to see. Students should also, at least, try the subjects of their interest. Since these courses are generally shorter in length, students can give it a try.

There are also constraints to this new option. With only 19% of Nepal’s population having access to Internet, language and with other barriers, it might seem difficult to attend the virtual classrooms. However, a few measures can be taken to give this new taste not only to students, colleges or universities but to all those who opt for broadening their horizon.

The government’s Youth Information Centers (YIC) and Information Centers at the VDC level could also be used as strategic learning centers for many young people. This could foster the rural learners’ accessibility to the world-class education. Furthermore, different learning centers and libraries established by several organizations in the country can be established as strategic learning centers and attract students to use their resources to learn.

Colleges and universities can arrange a learning environment for their students in their respective colleges and universities. This will provide platforms to students who don’t regularly access computer and Internet. In addition, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can also be encouraged to provide access to these learning portals at subsidized rates.

It’s never too late to start. It has not even been a year but these MOOCs are booming. You can start your own learning experience at www.coursera.org, www.udacity.com or www.edx.org today.

Republica

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