Convenience, cost-effectiveness, content creativity, flexibility, affordability, ease of access, wide-ranging programmes, course choices and world-class curricula and pedagogy are some of the arguments that are advanced to espouse alternative modes of educational delivery, including online education.
Many universities across the world, including some of the best in the world, have been working hard to popularise and sell the idea either individually or in a consortium mode.
Entities like Coursera, edX, FutureLearn, iversity, NovoEd, Udacity, and a plethora of their kinds have proliferated the market to provide user-friendly platforms and programme offerings through MOOCS, often free of cost to those who just seek to learn, and at a fraction of a cost to those who also seek certification.
Expectedly, India, too, pitched in with its own versions of online educational delivery in the form of National Programme on Technology Enabled Learning (NPTEL), Study Webs for Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) and SWAYAM PRABHA, which was launched to telecast educational programmes through a bouquet of 32 DTH Channels.
Despite phenomenal growth in enrolments and registrations for MOOCs, the euphoria seems to be waning globally. No one seems to be talking about the avalanche that they had been hoping for, to disrupt the formal and conventional mode of education.
In India, too, where MOOCs is yet to take off, the response to the initiatives can at best be described lukewarm, thus casting doubts about their potentials and future success.
Otherwise, why would UGC have had to mandate that all students enrolled in the formal mode must take a fifth of their courses through MOOCs? It seems that history is posed to repeat itself.
It may be recalled that earlier efforts at tele-education through INSAT, UGC Higher Education Television Project, Country-wide Classroom, DD Gyan Darshan, etc., have had only a limited success, if not a total failure. It was not only the governmental and government-sponsored initiatives that failed, but many a private, commercial providers that had entered into the tele-education market failed, too.