By Anil Mammen
MOOCs present a significant side in the battle over the future of education.And this is one battle that is not going to end too soon. The advantages of MOOCs are fairly obvious:
• The absence of painful enrolment procedures and prerequisites attracts a wider, disparate audience
• Learning moves to the centre stage and certification to the backseat
• The capacity for a massive number of students to be enrolled at the same time
• Global reach
• Access to quality courses from top universities across the world
Also, this is not just passive digital content put up there. There are some distinct pedagogical benefits: you have lectures, visual aids, discussions, quizzes, creation of digital artefacts by students, and peer graded assessments—all the ingredients needed for learning, retention and some amount of critical thinking for the motivated student.
Unlike other forms of e-learning, what MOOCs have done is to bring the faculty back at the centre. The content is not impersonal; it carries the voice of passion and the nuances of the subject through an experienced faculty. That said, MOOCs are yet to fully exploit the possibilities of the medium and ensure that the motivation levels of learners don’t start sagging after the first two or three weeks. Forums are chaotic and it is very difficult to filter through some useful content. Also, there is very limited interaction with the faculty—which is one of the biggest advantages of a student on campus. However, with improved technology platforms, some more thought on learning design, and enhanced use of multimedia formats, MOOCs are only going to get better.