Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How would you like to take the world's best courses, online, for free?

An interesting piece by Shai Venkatraman in yesterday's Mint informs us that Indians have taken to Massive Open Online Courses, or Moocs, in a big way.

But what exactly is a Massive Open Online Course?

It is “massive” because thousands of students can enrol for a course at a time; “open” because all one needs is an Internet connection; “online” because that is the manner of delivery; and “course”, because like any regular college programme, there is homework and tests. At the end of the course, usually ranging from three weeks to 18 weeks, students get to know whether they have passed or failed.

Venkatraman first introduces us to Rashmi Jain, a 34-year-old Mumbaikar who is employed by Reliance Communications, who commutes to work by train, and who signed up for a Massive Open Online Course three months ago:

Every day, en route to work, she is hooked to her cellphone, watching internet video lectures on game theory, marketing, and consumer psychology by faculty from Duke University and Michigan State University in the US. “I was looking to acquire new skills,” says Jain.

We learn that, be it engineering, humanities, or math, many top-notch universities around the globe have begun offering a range of programmes, free of cost, via Moocs. And that two of the big players on the Moocs stage are Coursera, an education start-up, and Udacity, which "was born out of a Stanford University experiment. Venktraman writes that both Coursera and Udacity have a significant number of Indians among their students.

Read the article in its entirety here and, then, check out the many Moocs offered by Coursera and Udacity.