Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences (BITS) Pilani has partnered with the MIT & Harvard’s massive open online course (MOOC) platform edX to offer MOOCs to its own on-campus and off-campus students as well as students outside BITS.
As part of the agreement, BITS Pilani will be using edX’s Edge platform to offer 60 courses over three years for students across its four campuses and its off-campus programs. It will also offer several courses as MOOCs through edX platform for students outside BITS. These courses will include content like recorded videos, online exercises and computer-based simulations. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
BITS Pilani will also be a contributing member to the edX consortium which includes MIT, Harvard University, UC Berkeley, IIT Bombay, Rice University, Caltech University and Linux Foundation among others.
edX’s Edge platform essentially works like a test environment for edX courses, which allows universities to create their own courses in a low key environment. These courses are eventually graduated to be official edX courses when they are ready for global consumption.
The past couple of years have witnessed a surge in popularity of MOOCs in India. Earlier in March, edX president Anant Agarwal had told The Times of India that India is currently the second largest market for edX, accounting for 12% of its global userbase. Agarwal had claimed that over 2.5 lakh people from India had registered for courses on its platform as of March this year.
edX currently offers around 208 courses across various subjects like Computer Science, Electronics, Engineering, Economics & Finance, Math, Medicine and Environmental Studies among others.
Last November, online education company Coursera had also announced Coursera Learning Hubs which offered people physical spaces where they can access its Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for free. In India, the company had tied up with Lady Sri Ram College (New Delhi), Learning Links Foundation (has offices in 10 Indian cities) and Bluebells Schools International (New Delhi). Such an initiative makes sense in India, where a large number of students still don’t have access to reliable internet connections
Bangalore-based Jaaga had also launched Jaaga Study, a one-year course on computer programming, which uses Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) from various sources online to conduct classes offline. Jaaga Study was relying on sources such as CodeAcademy, TeamTreeHouse, CodeSchool, Udacity, Stanford, Harvard and MIT for this initiative.
Microsoft Research had also experimented with this idea in conjunction with Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), as part of which Engineering students were offered a free online certification on algorithm, design and analysis (ADA).
We feel that higher educational institutes and schools could easily adopt this template and it could be a means to provide learning material that’s not part of the curriculum. It could also be used to introduce students to new subjects/concepts that haven’t yet gained popularity in India.