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Massive Open Online Courses UPSC NOTE


What is Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)?

  • A massive open online course (MOOC) or an open online course is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the Web.

  • In addition to traditional course materials,many MOOCs provide interactive courses with user forums or social media discussions to support community interactions among students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs).

  • Immediate feedback to quick quizzes and assignments.

  • MOOCs are a widely researched development in distance education.

  • First introduced in 2008.

  • 2012 is called the Year of the MOOC.

  • Profit MOOCS Companies

    • Udacity (2011) 

    • Coursera (2012) 

  • Non-profit MOOCS Company

    • edX (2012) - MIT and Harvard

  • Non-profit MOOCS Company

    • Anant Agarwal, the visionary founder of edX, is widely credited with open sourcing and internationalising the company’s ‘open edX tech stack’.

    • Although edX was acquired by the for-profit EdTech company, ‘2U’, in November 2021, the company continues to follow ‘non-profit considerations when it comes to servicing its open-source stack.

    • IIT Bombay and the IIM Bangalore - offer a variety of MOOCS courses through the edX platform.

  • As of 2021, there existed nearly 35 MOOCS Learning Management Systems (LMS) spread across North America, Asia and Europe.

  • The list of large LMS platforms from the developing world includes India’s ‘Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds’ (SWAYAM).

What is SWAYAM?

  • ‘Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds’ (SWAYAM).

  • It was launched in 2017 by the Ministry of Education, Government of India under Digital India.

  • SWAYAM is an Indian government Massive open online course (MOOC) platform providing educational opportunities for a vast number of university and college learners.

  • Courses delivered through SWAYAM are available free of cost to the learners. 

  • However learners wishing to obtain a SWAYAM certificate should register for the final proctored exams that come at a fee and attend in-person at designated centres on specified dates.

  • SWAYAM has been developed cooperatively by Ministry of Human Resource Development (now Ministry of Education),and AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) with the help of Microsoft.

  • The platform offers free access to everyone and hosts courses from class 9 to post-graduation. 

  • It enables professors and faculty of centrally funded institutes like IITs, IIMs, IISERs, etc. to teach students.

  • Learning is delivered in four ways; e-Tutorial, e-Content, discussion forums and self- assessment.

Challenges faced by MOOCs

  • Despite their seemingly high enrolment numbers, the financials of MOOCS platforms are fragile.

  • The operating expenses of a MOOCS platform are high

    • Partly due to maintenance expenses associated with the LMS tech stack;

    • Partly due to steep marketing costs incurred for enlarging the learner base.

  • On the revenue side, the practice of offering entry-level courses gratis (or at low fees) increased the financial burden.

  • Although MOOCS platforms, by and large, rely on degree-earning courses to earn revenue, such courses have few takers.

Struggle to locate courses that suit his/her needs:

  • A key metric that determines learner enrolments is discovering LMS platforms through web-based search engines. 

  • Even when a learner stumbles on a platform of her choice, she would still struggle to locate courses that suit her needs from the crowded portfolios of Coursera, edX and Udacity. 

  • What compounds the problem is the high rate of dropouts by entry-level learners. 

  • In turn, drop-outs reduce the catchment of learners for degree granting programmes.

Need of generative AI

  • To solve the problem of locating courses that suit his/her needs.

  • edX’s Chat GPT plug-in helps aspiring learners to successfully locate platforms and courses that suit their requirements. 

  • The Khan Academy’s chat box ‘Khanmigo’ challenges learners with thought-provoking questions.

  • While edX’s ‘edX Xpert’ and Coursera’s ‘AI Coursera Coach’ function as virtual assistants that answer queries, provide feedback on assignments, generate quick summaries of voluminous content, and swiftly turn out exam scores. 

  • As learning gets interesting and engaging, drop-outs are bound to come down, resulting in more learners progressing to degree granting programmes.

Way forward

  • India’s SWAYAM has yet to spell out its approach to AI.

  • The SWAYAM-user community will drastically scale up by 2025, when India’s active Internet users become 900 million strong. 

  • This rapid scale up will necessitate the utilisation of AI-based learning and teaching services by institutes affiliated to the platform.

  • SWAYAM is publicly funded and is driven by the National Education Policies tenets of inclusivity and cross-disciplinary learning. 

  • Indeed, in the coming years, the drift of SWAYAM courses is more likely in the direction of cross-disciplinary course offerings that utilise unstructured data. 

SWAYAM is thus ideally positioned to derive benefits from the evolving semantic web.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Massive Open Online Courses UPSC NOTE
Massive Open Online Courses UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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