By Preethi Ann Thomas
24th December 2012 12:00 AM
Academicians, students, filmmakers and techies all come together for the revolution that is Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). edX, the non-profit initiative from Harvard and MIT enrolled 3,70,000 students this year and Coursera’s virtual footfall has reached 1.7 million — an unusually high count compared to even Facebook! MOOCs are usually free, have open access and can support many participants. While brick and mortar institutes are still the preferred place of learning, many students and corporates are swiftly moving to click institutes these days, ie, e-learning portals that give them flexibility to learn at their own pace and pick their subjects, and earn their certification and learn the required skills.
The global online education space has been steadily growing over the past two years. Many may argue that e-learning is never a substitute for classroom learning. But interactive sessions and online classes ensure that you have contact with teachers. It has also enabled quality teachers from premier institutes to offer their knowledge to students from different parts of the country. Not to forget that high-speed internet connections have made this possible. It’s fast, efficient, time-saving, cost-effective and practical. Noticing this trend abroad, many Indian entrepreneurs have enabled quality e-learning in India. Here’s a look at some India’s popular e-learning portals and what they have to offer.
Learning is social, believes Vaidya Nathan, founder-CEO of Classle Knowledge, which lays emphasis on collaborating, sharing and learning, free of cost! “I was lucky to get good education from IIT and MIT. And when I look inward, I find that people in India believe that good education can lift them up,” he says. Classle’s mission is to transform talent and bring in the right to quality education for all. This idea is accomplished through an innovative social learning platform. It becomes the one-stop for students, colleges, professionals and recruiters.
Classle boasts of a Learning Circle, mobile learning called Kyyil, Ask! where you can post doubts, Classle Library, career guidance, job portal, a private cloud campus called Campus Classle, Classle quiz to assess your skills and Classle projects. Having recently launched the Classle Course+, a unique method to offer full-fledged courses to students, it is the latest initiative that would complement core education offered at colleges through its free online syllabus. “Classle Course+ will increase the engagement points with the students from current 50 at traditional educational platforms to a minimum of 1,300 times through the online social portal. We have also brought in various industry leaders to contribute to our course. Starting with engineering, we hope to expand it to another 100 courses within the next three-four months,” says Vaidya Nathan. Being an external learning programme, it doesn’t obstruct regular class hours. Along with expert lectures, students are also free to share ideas, participate in quizzes, exchange notes, request expert advice and engage in group interaction for learning. Classle also provides students a chance to be identified by the industry for the recruitment process through their activity online.
Classle is also offering IT programming courses in tamil, which he believes is important to bridge the gap for rural students with vernacular backgrounds. Thus they will be at par with their English-tutored counterparts.
In association with NPTEL and IIT-Madras, Classle also launched a series of 300 educational workshops recently, to increase the standard of education in Tier II and III towns. This ongoing project is estimated to reach over 45,000 faculty members and 1,50,000 students spread over 3,000 colleges nationwide, a reach that would be impossible with a physical classroom-based learning. For more on the portal and to sign up for their services, visit www.classle.net.
Skill development, soft skills training and increasing employability are all focal points in the programmes developed by Career Strokes for Class IX-XII students, college students and corporates. Developed by a team that is primarily anchored by former Indian cricket team captain, Krishnamachari (Kris) Srikkanth, the platform is an innovative one, built to motivate, inspire, and guide through a programme of career building and personality development. The suggestion behind this is to convey ideas about leadership, team spirit, time management, stress management, goal setting, etc, through sporting analogy. Yes, Srikkanth will explain key concepts through cricket, a medium that is understood well by this cricket crazy nation.
The programme for school children is called Education Strokes. Having tied up with IIM-Ranchi and IMT-Ghaziabad, this portal was launched in September 2010 and offers 22 modules at `450 for three months (20 hours) and `180 for a month. In addition, cricket coaching is also provided on the Cricket Strokes portal. The methodology used in the course is unique as each lesson’s components includes rationale, goals, objectives, real-time anecdotes, interactivities and assessments. The theme-based learning has been able to reach out to students through their interactive AV sessions, presentations and live interaction, expert views, etc. GSR Business Services, a Microsoft-certified Gold Partner, has helped in building the digital media and platform to deliver subscription-based video, audio and textual content, both in real-time and on-demand models. “Precisely a means to problem-solving behaviour, the main objective of Career Strokes is to motivate and inspire an individual or group of participants to meet the challenges of everyday life with responsibility,” says Srikkanth. Visit www.careerstrokes.com
GURUKUL ONLINE LEARNING SOLUTIONS (GOLS)
Gurukul Online Learning Solutions (GOLS) was established in the year 2005. “Considering the acute shortage of trained manpower in the country and the ever-increasing figure of unemployed graduates, it is important to focus on the concept of employability — those who will meet the demands of the industry, opines Shailesh Mehta, CEO of GOLS.
This has much to do with the quality of graduates as also lack of vocational education provided by the formal education system. That’s where GOLS steps in, by marrying formal education to vocational education. GOLS Online Education is the first Institution in the country accredited to offer integrated degree programs with vocational education.”
GOLS offers 120+ career-oriented programmes. It has partnered with Institute of Company Secretary of India (ICSI) to offer an eLearning Program and another with Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority to offer a pre-licensing mandatory course for insurance agents and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) course.
GOLS is an authorised education provider for the CFPcm and IGNOU-certified courses in different domains like banking, finance, soft skills, wealth management, financial planning, insurance, retail, etc are also on offer. These are certificate, diploma and associate degree programmes and lead to a bachelor degree.
Among many innovative features of these programmes, the prominent one is integration of vocational education with formal education. They have also proposed to offer GOLS-certified courses in retail, bilingual course in basic English and foreign languages, pharma, travel and tourism, transport and logistics, etc. “The fee we charge is just a fraction of the fee that the students pay for a physical classroom and that too with additional facilities which ensure that they get the best training on any subject they choose. The fees range from a few hundred to a few thousand at present,” says Manish Jain, VP, operations. “On an average, we train around 1,500-2,000 students every year.
Over the last few years, we have trained over one lakh+ students,” he adds. They offer courses in retail management, insurance, biomedical science, diploma in event management, financial planning and mutual funds, commodities market, soft skills, communication, banking, lubricant technology, e-security, etc.
Headquartered in Mumbai, GOLS has offices in major metros of the country. They offer innovative ways of online learning, ie, video-based training, live virtual classroom, guest lectures, discussion boards/chat and additional resources, step-by-step learning method, case studies and practical examples.
Mehta elaborates on how their programme has reached people. “ICSI is a statutory body, constituted to develop and regulate the profession of company secretaries in India. The institute conducts examination by registering students and imparting coaching through distance education as well as optional oral classes for the company secretary course. ICSI eLearning portal (www.eLearning.icsi.edu) is a joint initiative of ICSI and Gurukul Online Learning Solutions (GOLS) to provide an additional source of learning through the internet. The coaching programme is an optional programme for students and competes with coaching institutes and classroom-based coaching conducted by different ICSI chapters and other authorised centres.
With the demand for CS professionals increasing in the country, the number of students applying is currently around 3 lakh. Also, apart from metros and Tier-I cities, the students registered from far-off cities from Tier-II, III and IV towns in Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, and towns like Jalgaon, Nashik, Kurukshetra, Kapurthala, etc, also form significant part in the total students’ registrations.”
GOLS also offers a career aptitude test with one-on-one counselling which seeks to ease the confusion faced by parents and students alike. English lessons for the ‘aam aadmi’ and BPO sector are also on offer. More on www.golsacademy.com about the courses from 16 industry domains.
The increasing demand for all kinds of professionals, better bandwidth, easing of power shortages, cost effectiveness, convenience, and better educational educational experience overall; are drivers for online coaching to pick up. Learn more about their expertise in the e-learning segment at www.gurukulonline.com.
Keeping pace with the global trend of MOOC (Mass Open Online Courses) is Chennai-based myBskool.com, which has partnered with Madras Management Association (MMA) to offer a rigorous 100-day, 100-hour free online mini-MBA programme. This is in addition to the online executive MBA programme that they have been offering, and is recognised by the Distance Education Council of India.
Founder and CEO of myBskool, Swaminathan K says, “The content for the programme has been co-created in partnership with IIM-Ranchi and is being hosted on myBskool.com’s social learning platform. It is already being used by students at IIM-Ranchi, IMT-Ghaziabad and other b-schools.”
While the technology and content in the form of video lectures is brought by myBskool and IIM-Ranchi, MMA brings to the table experts from the industry for live virtual classes that are conducted as a part of this programme. “The pedagogy involves pre-recorded video learning modules with fully interactive and collaborative features like discussion forums, online chats, quizzes and live virtual classrooms. The entire course content is made available on an anytime, anywhere learning mode, using the portable classroom model,” says Swaminathan.
He adds that working professionals would need to take a break in career to pursue an MBA and sometimes it can be financially challenging as well. This programme thereby breaks the barriers of time and distance.
Prof MJ Xavier of IIM-Ranchi says, “Online education is becoming more popular among students and employers due to its flexibility and affordability. Initiatives like Coursera at Stanford are a testimony to this. myBskool’s course has been designed keeping in mind India’s relevant context and globally relevant content.” Corporates now can upgrade the skills of their employees at no extra cost. Working professionals, executives, small business owners, students, and anyone interested in improving their business know-how and promoting their managerial skills will find this course apt and useful.
But what would keep a student committed to a free course? “Although this course does not come with a certification, in order to motivate learners and to encourage them to complete the course, myBskool awards a badge of honour to every learner who meets certain pre-defined criteria. The programme also monitors frequency of logging in, participation in group discussions and other interactive sessions.
That’s not all. In order to bridge the learning gap in students who apply for an MBA without relevant backgrounds, myBskool.com has designed a self-paced Pre MBA programme covering fundamental concepts in economics, statistics, financial accounting at a cost of `1,999 for three months. In addition, you can also speak to their counsellors for more
information or guidance. For details, log on to www.mybskool.com.
NIIT, a global talent development corporation and Asia’s largest IT trainer, launched the GNIIT programme that can be pursued anywhere anytime, by leveraging their unique cloud learning methodology in 2011. The pioneering NIIT cloud campus (CC) empowers students to learn on their own terms, at their own pace, wherever and whenever they want it. Students enjoy higher mobility as they can easily access educational services using a Netbook or a mobile device that connects them to NIIT’s cloud campus network. These services are managed by NIIT centrally using CC.
One of the most important initiatives of NIIT in recent times, the new GNIIT syllabus is based on the educational paradigm called collaborative learning which takes students beyond the traditional classroom based student-teacher relationship. Students enrolling for the programme are provided with a technically robust netbook, a well designed digital courseware and a fully paid data card. Furthermore, the technology backed learning environment of NIIT’s Cloud Learning Methodology supports group learning through interactive features like 24x7 lab and e-library access, instant tech updates, interaction with faculty and peers and access to online video streams. Thus, the learning process is not just limited to textbooks but is enhanced through group learning.
The six-semester industry-endorsed curriculum for students includes software engineering track, networking and infrastructure management track, business systems and information management track. G Raghavan, chief executive, Career Building Solutions, NIIT, remarks, “The new-age GNIIT programme helps create a pool of trained professionals for today’s globalised knowledge economy. The use of cloud platform ensures that students can procure an avant-garde training from any corner of the globe and equip themselves with skill sets that employers’ value. Thus helping them chart exciting careers in information technology.”
The uniqueness of the GNIIT programme also lies in its professional practice which a year-long internship that gives the students the opportunity to work at leading IT organisations. This one year internship gives exposure to ‘live’ case studies and a stipend that lets them earn-while-they-learn. Moreover, with recruitment in over 3,000 companies, the programme gives a jump-start to students’ careers. NIIT students have started their careers in leading organisations like Infosys, TCS, Wipro, IBM, etc.
With their recent architecture modification through an update to ICR 3.0 from ICR 2.0, they have enabled students to access their solution from anywhere. It boasts of class-wise content packaged in a DVD. The current NIIT content is segmented into class-wise modules, online assessments and a repository of NIIT question bank accessible through cloud. They conduct a performance analysis, which prepares a basic analysis on areas of strengths and weakness of the student and also enable parent login that ensures access points for parents to check on progress of the ward and child login as the access point for login into cloud services and usage tracking which logs the usage of services by the end user. The approximate fee charged for GNIIT cloud campus is `2,75,000. Visit www.cloudcampus.niit.com.
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