TASADUK HUSSAIN ITOO
Online education has seen significant growth in today's world of technological advancement and internet revolution. Forming one of the most important aspects in today’s education domain, it has taken away the limitations of sitting in a classroom for learning; hindrances such as transportation, location, accessibility and cost.
With more than 500 million internet users and hundreds of local as well as global business tycoons willing to invest in the future of education -- online education in India has picked up pace since last few years. In fact, the e-learning market in the country is estimated to be worth more than $3.5 billion.
While many top class universities now offer distant online courses bringing the best instructors and professors into the homes of students, online education has revolutionised the way we look at education in current era. In terms of online enrolments, India ranks second only behind the United States -- comprising of over fifteen percent of students worldwide -- the students get access to some of the best courses around the world and get skilled in various domains.
Years back, I conducted a series of live interview sessions with some India's top educators and You Tubers to laid practical emphasis on online education. Various educators from many places of India, including Jammu and Kashmir joined the sessions, put their views about online education and shared their experiences being online educators on largest educational platforms of India.
The educators stressed upon benefits of online education for teaching and student community, its role in empowerment and eduprenuership and the revolution it has brought about in the overall learning and educational scenario in the world during current times of technological advancement.
While talking about the benefits of online education, one of the best and foremost benefits is EASY ACCESSIBILITY. A student need not to visit to a particular location to attend a course, rather he can pick up a course from any country and successfully complete it in the comfort of their home.
Having said that, since last few years the information and communication technologies have revolutionized the education system by introducing virtual classrooms and online tutorials to make quality education affordable and accessible to all. With regard to this development, the Government of India launched various projects such as National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) and National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT). Moreover, the NEP 2020 by streamlining the education system also focuses on technological advancement in online education.
Second important benefit of online education is COST EFFECTIVENESS and AFFORDABILITY. Since these courses do not require students to physically attend the class, it is mostly a cheaper alternative that enables people to learn at lower costs. While some believe that online education is not as effective as traditional education systems, however it can be said that these courses enable students to understand and learn the course at comparatively lower costs than offline education.
Moreover, students from various backgrounds can opt for such courses provided they have a smart phone. A student gets an opportunity to learn from the best teachers around the world without a limitation of space, time or money and definitely it gives an edge factor over the traditional system of education.
More to say, online education courses are flexible -- a student gets to choose what, when, how much to study empowers him beyond measure, and the variety of courses available on online platforms offers a huge canvas to the learner’s community. While some people believe that an online degree does not hold as much value as a traditional degree, however this is not true. The degree holds just as much value and how you perform on the online course helps to shape your career.
In the current scenario, massive open online courses (MOOCs) are seen as a powerful technology-enriched tool to address the challenges of learners in underdeveloped countries like India. According to experts in the education sector, MOOC have emerged as a strong weapon to combat employability skills challenge by providing cost-effective access to customised courses from best of the teachers and universities across the globe. Moreover, many top universities are now designing customised lectures and curriculum for MOOC platforms.
Easy accessibility to the high-speed internet on mobile phones and an increase in demand for skilled workforce have acted as the prime factors. To exemplify it, Coursera and edX are among the top global MOOC providers -- with edX offering over thousand courses from over hundred global institutions, and from over ten million global learners at edX, around one million are from India; while as Coursera has partnership with over hundred of the world’s universities and offers around two thousand courses and around hundred specialisations - having more than twenty-five million global learners, of which around two million are from India. However, India has always been a priority market for edX, because of its strong partnerships with Indian Institutions like IIT Bombay, IIM Bangalore, and BITS Pilani, and blended learning partners like NIIT and Pearson to impart job-ready skills to learners.
In conclusion, it can be said that the future belongs to blended education/learning model or largely online. MOOCs (online education) though can't replace universities in actual sense, rather may help in enhancing the quality of education by incorporating blended learning. This model would create better efficiencies and can foster a better quality of education as a whole.
(Author is medical doctor, columnist and public speaker. He can be reached on: firstname.lastname@example.org)