Is SWAYAM platform bridging the learning gap or creating one UGC adds 10 more courses in the non-technical PG category to popularise MOOCs in the interiors.
Study Webs of Active -Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) programme by MHRD that aims at making learning material available to citizens of India, including students, teachers and senior citizens had offered as many as 1082 courses in 2018-19. In all, 4 lakh learners were enrolled in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered in July 2018 semester.
Nine national coordinators were assigned for different types of courses:
AICTE for self-paced and international courses, The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) for engineering, UGC for non-technical post-graduation education, Consortium for Educational Communication (CEC) for undergraduate education, NCERT and NIOS for school education, IGNOU for out of the school students, IIM Bangalore for management studies and The National Institute of Technical Teachers Training and Research (NITTTR) for teacher training programme.
UGC has given new directive to all the higher education institutes to encourage its faculty to produce more MOOCs. Till now, only premier institutes such as IITs, IIMs and JNU have offered support in producing MOOCs, but the regional institutes are still shying away owing to limited resources and faculty.
“MOOCs aim at offering training to students in remote places that lack quality teachers. This gives ready-made study material from trained faculty of premier institutes.”
“Several institutes do not have trained professors, so the students can take help of MOOCs to learn the course through material generated by a professor of another institute,” said a senior UGC official, on condition of anonymity.
So far, UGC has no provision to take non-performing teachers to task, but they can help the students by making them switch their source of knowledge.
UGC had also invited applications from higher institutes to participate in initiating online degrees from academic session 2019- 2020. This process is targeted for students who could not get admission in their choice of course. However, this will not help students looking for dual degrees as UGC does not allow a student to pursue two different degrees simultaneously.
“Conventional degrees in the near future will lose their value as the new-age industry is looking for professionals with relevant skills. Online degrees will allow students to pursue many things at once to gain academic exposure. Students will have access to online degrees in 2019-20, but we need to chart out plans for amendments in the existing acts and rules,” said the official.
Online course are leading a way for interdisciplinary studies in the system says Dr Bharti Yadav, assistant professor, National Law University, Delhi, who is also the course coordinator of a course ‘Access to Justice’ offered on SWAYAM platform.
“Developing a course has been a challenge, since many teachers do not have access to quality books and resources. Teachers in Indian universities do not adopt multidisciplinary approaches of teaching, online access to different disciplines can help students gain interdisciplinary knowledge,” said Dr Yadav.