India embraces MOOCs, but what if it is a ‘lousy product’?

One hundred engineering colleges around India will rely heavily on virtual instruction under a new programme funded by India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) that kicked off on January 2, the Business Standard reports.

The Quality Enhancement in Engineering Education (QEEE) programme, as it is called, relies on the use of the online teaching model known as MOOC, or Massive Open Online Course. About half the students’ courses are to be delivered over MOOCs.

While the MOOC model has had its successes, there also have been failures. If it is to succeed, the QEEE must be implemented in a way that leverages the advantages of the MOOC model to meet the needs of the broadest possible universe of students.

Under the QEEE programme, courses will be taught by a combination of senior Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) faculty and others. During regular class hours, the students will hear and see faculty deliver recorded lectures. Regular faculty will be present during class hours, in a supportive role. In the evening, e-tutorials will be held to enable live virtual discussions between students and tutors. Real time online experiments will be made available via e-labs.

… The QEEE comes at a time when some are raising doubts about the educational value of MOOCs. Sebastian Thrun, a MOOC for higher education pioneer who founded the online MOOC company Udacity, is one of those voices. As the hype for MOOCs built up last year, Thrun said in an interview he “was realising, we don’t educate people as others wished, or as I wished. We have a lousy product. It was a painful moment (when I realised this).”

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