MOOCs and the Future of Indian Higher Education – FICCI HES 2013

The 2013 FICCI Higher Education Summit was held on Nov 13 and 14, 2013. I, along with Prof. B N Jain (Vice Chancellor, BITS) and Mohan Kannegal (Manipal Global Education), conducted a master class on MOOCs and the Future of Indian Higher Education.

Prof. Jain, in his address made the following points (please read MOOCs as xMOOCs):

  • MOOCs are in an evolutionary phase – effectiveness and business models are still not clear
  • Although MOOCs claim to provide elite education to many at an affordable cost or for free, there are counter claims that they cannot re-create the quality of face to face teaching and learning.
  • Bottomline: MOOCs will certainly improve quality and scale of on-campus or off-campus education.
  • MOOCs work well for multi-section classes, provided the content is rich and analytics are used
  • Given the fact that India has 28 mn students in Higher Ed today (and expected to go up to 50 mn by 2030), an additional 20 mn classrooms, 300 mn sq ft of space and 2 mn teachers shall be required and we don’t have a choice but to embrace MOOCs.
  • Adoption has started in India, with IITs, Manipal Global and BITS taking the lead

In true cMOOC style, we started a conversation rather than a “sage on the stage” master class. We asked the participants what they would like to learn in the session, and we got a spate of interesting questions.

  • How can mobile learning be efficiently adopted in a MOOC context?
  • How do we adapt/dovetail MOOCs to fit the traditional curriculum?
  • Are we falling into a trap – MOOCs will standardize content. How can one expert source be sufficient? What about the richness that a teacher brings in?
  • Can MOOCs help in making our students employable?
  • Motivation: How can we ensure that our students are motivated and that they follow the learning progression as desired? How do we ensure low dropout rates? How do we get people to register for important courses?
  • Credentials: Are there pathways from MOOCs to degrees?
  • Blended designs: What are the possible blends that we could have with MOOCs?
  • LABs: What are the possible offline support assets that need to be created?
  • When should we not use MOOCs?

We also used a guiding presentation that came in handy. In the audience, no one was aware of the difference between an xMOOC or a cMOOC – which is why many of the questions above (and others that came up) were asked. I made the point of how xMOOCs were really an extension of the traditional online learning and classroom practices, while cMOOCs really represented the disruption. The other part of the presentation was on a complete lifecycle covering analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation of MOOCs, which we also got a chance to discuss towards the end of the session. Slides below.

Mohan contributed a practitioner’s view with the experience of Manipal in the traditional eLearning and cohort based learning (with GlobalNxt/U21) models and how Manipal is making its first forays in the MOOC space.

All in all, it was an action packed and fast paced session. I do hope the participants enjoyed themselves!

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