At the inaugural ceremony of week-long Teachers Workshop at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi this past Sunday, Human Resource Development Minister Prakash, Javadekar said that the central government will provide 2000 online courses within one year. The medium through which this vision to achieve digital education is indigenously developed and is named ‘SWAYAM’ (Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds). At present 380 courses are provided through this policy and 60,000 students have previously finished their courses through this reasonable platform launched in 2016.
Mr. Javadekar has described the ‘SWAYAM’ platform as ‘ATL – Anytime Learning’. SWAYAM provides high quality education on high school, graduate and post graduate levels, supported by a network that is expected to sustain 10 lakh concurrent users anytime, anywhere.
Forensic science, environmental chemistry, cognitive science, anthropology, social psychology, financial management, managerial economics, literature, artificial intelligence, library management, Indian culture and art, population studies, petrology, retail management etc. are the range of courses available to students in massive online and open courses (MOOCs). With exceedingly interactive portal which can be accessed on computers or even smartphones , it provides e-content, activities and assessment, introductory videos for learners. Main rationale is how technology can be used to increase the quality of education in India. The HRD Ministry has collaborated with Microsoft as a technology associate for this endeavour. As soon as completed, it would bring in interactive e-content on MOOCs format of more than 2.5 lakh hours which would make it the biggest storehouse of electronic learning reserve under a single window in the entire world.
Along with advantages such as language support, accessibility beyond the physical boundaries, help to prepare for entrance exam, multimedia digital resources etc. there are several challenges attached to it.
The biggest challenge of organising MOOCs in India for school education will be the infrastructural problem. Digital literacy, certification, real time answering during lecture, lesser accessibility of multimedia content to students and their capacity to engage with it, are some other challenges which SWAYAM has to face.
MOOCs will provide a way forward for quality education in India. Still many students don’t have access to schools, especially girls and those having access, are crying for good education. We are struggling to revamp the teacher education system. The blended mode of teaching would help the teachers and students to have access to large number of good educational resources and will provide good opportunity to access the education from eminent teachers with affordability. The sociological, geographical and political barriers in education can be overlooked by making MOOCs as parallel to regular school education.