My MOOC journey – 1

31 05 2017

Part 2    Part 3

MOOCs have revolutionized learning in true sense. Though the true origins of MOOCs can be traced back to distance learning, they have undoubtedly gained wide popularity with the advent of Internet and other associated technologies. Ever since the inception of Coursera in 2012, they have become widespread and they have been in vogue ever since. And why not? It’s truly praiseworthy and remarkable that renowned educational institutions and pioneers in various fields have come forward to impart the knowledge and skills to everyone surpassing all boundaries. Several MOOC platforms sprang up offering completely free courses, while simultaneously adding more and more disciplines and courses.  And most of the MOOCs are still free, and at least let you audit for free. MOOCs have brought world-class teaching and material to the doorstep of anyone who can afford a network connection.

Coursera has started out as everything free, and later  introduced optional pay for verified certificate for most courses. And now, many of them are strictly pay courses, while some of them allow one to audit for free. Udacity was the first platform which introduced paid courses and nanodegrees designed by tech giants like Google etc. Likewise, statements of accomplishments were offered on successful completion of all free courses in the beginning, but not so much these days. However, most paid versions of MOOCs have affordable pricing, which provide authentic verified certificates.

Class-central, an aggregator of MOOCs across all platforms and universities, and provides a one stop place to find and track your interests and enrollments. It also provides helpful recommendations and articles based on popularity and student feedback. It is so easy to get lost in the ocean of MOOCs offered. And for beginners, it’s a very good avenue to start looking to get the sense of what courses are available out there.

For obsessive learners like me, MOOCs have proved to be a boon. I took courses from several platforms including

  • Coursera
  • Edx
  • Open 2 Study
  • Udacity

These platforms provide such a wide variety of courses, ranging from simple, introductory ones to more advanced courses as well. When I browse the ever expanding catalogs, I feel like a kid in the candy shop. 😛 I have completed over 30 MOOCs so far, but I’m not by any means a super MOOCer. This is over a period of about 5 years, so it’s not bad. 😉

2017-05-29_23-23-57

These are just the boring statistics. Stay tuned for the interesting reflection on my motivations, MOOC highs and lows, challenges, and more in the subsequent posts. 🙂

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Indian education

8 05 2013

As Indians, we all know the pros and cons of Indian education. We are especially aware of the “non-learning” that happens in the name of the competitiveness and anxiety to score more or stand first in the race. We learn the basics the hard way – rigorous by-hearting and impositions (at least, I did). Usually, we learn the techniques rather than the subject. When it comes to higher education, we are painfully aware of the lack of real learning. (Well, this applies to most of the institutes. I was not, like many others, fortunate enough to get into the few premier institutes, where education and learning is supposed to be quite different and on a totally different level.) It is quite possible that we may not even be aware of what a real education is, unless we expereince it, which typically means a course or program from developed areas (like US, Europe etc.).

And we accept it, like we do a lot of things that happen in India.

I read an article in The Hindu’s Education Plus supplement this Monday by a foreign student who attended a reputed institute in India as part of a study abroad programme. It speaks about his immense disappointment from the whole experience. The author emphasizes that false nationalism, which is actually narcissism, is causing Indians not look at the issue. And he calls for action from the Indian students – strong one at that. I agree with him when he says, “in life you should not expect others to fight your battles for you”.

Here is the complete article: An Indian education?

Irrespective of whether it’s highlighted by a foreign national, the scenario is something we should be ashamed of. Indians are deemed intelligent over the world, but how much of it is shaped by our education system? We crave for foreign degrees – both for real learning and for the value, awe, and respect they command.

The need for action is of course undeniable. But does the years of complacency on part of the education system give way to radical change so easily? And whenever we talk about a system, lots of complications are involved. Nevertheless, change should happen one step at a time. A beginning should be made.

Speaking about the quality and passion of teachers, do we have our best people to teach us? By no means I imply that there are no great or even good teachers in India. However, from the general perspective and looking at the big picture, do the “best” people choose to teach?

R. Prasannan (an academic, an author and a columnist in The Week), in his latest article highlights the difference between the way the army and the police are trained. While the army sends its best men (who considers the duty as an honour and are highly regarded) to groom the junior members, the police force sends its worst men to train the constables into inspectors. He says that this explains the unpardonable and insensitive behavior of certain un-FIR constables and girl-slapping ACPs.

Well, the reason I am reminded of this is that I feel that it can be broadened to include other domains as well. Teachers shape the future generation and so the system has to make sure that the best people of a generation teach if it ever wants the future generation to be better. And this has to happen in a big way.