Massive Open Online Courses: the emerging landscape of digital learning in India

IIEP foresight Papers
17 pages
Tertiary education

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This paper reviews current initiatives taking place in India to promote access to higher education through distance education, online learning platforms, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The number of internet users in India has reached 462 million (with a penetration rate of 35% of the total population), and it currently represents the second largest national group enrolled in MOOCs after the USA. In this context, the Government of India is striving hard to leverage the potential of the higher education sector to reach more students and to build a knowledge-based society through a more intensive and optimized use of technology. This paper examines the digital revolution taking place in the Indian higher education sector, by (i) highlighting the drivers for change in the higher education landscape; (ii) reviewing the major initiatives undertaken by Indian authorities to facilitate lifelong learning for teachers, students, and those in employment that are in pursuit of knowledge free of cost, including the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning, the National Repository for Open Educational Resources, and SWAYAM, an indigenous information technology (IT) platform hosting MOOCs; and (iii) analysing the first generation of Indian MOOCs. This first generation of online learners in India will provide valuable lessons for all countries interested in capitalizing on the development of ICTs to increase access to higher education. Drawing on India's example, specific recommendations for educational planners are outlined.