Criticism against MOOC has been the low completion rates of the courses at 4 to 5 percent. However, to me, MOOC enables people who would have never gone to a class to gather skills. This is because MOOCs are free, even though the coursewares are usually derived from the foremost universities in the world.
With this understanding, schools and colleges are gradually learning to weave the online and offline education models to provide an effective learning experience for all. The discipline of a deadline, coupled with the flexibility of studying any time, should prove to be a winning combination. Distance education needs to be moved into the "mainstream" form of education and delivered in an integrated manner, along with other more accepted forms of education.
At a social development level, as part of its "Education for All" objective, UNESCO has identified ICT as an important method of intervention to address the 770 million adult literacy gap across the world. This again calls for innovative thinking on content and delivery; making the distance model an ideal one.
Some areas that should be leverage a variation of the distance learning model in India could be:
- Skill Augmentation and Development - supplementing the existing Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and other institutes for vocation training courses
- Literacy for All - helps deliver standardised education for all
- Higher and Continuing Education using courses from the top schools, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).
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