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MOOC - Education Re-disrupted

The inevitability of the revolution is now visible


#MOOC is now clearly visible as the tip of an iceberg. What we can see on the surface is only 2-3% to what lies beneath. It’s time for all industry leaders to imagine the Titanic of the traditional forms of teaching approaching this iceberg. While in the short run ‘talk and chalk’ and building and labs will survive under protection of regulators and in economies slow to technological advancements, in the longer term, this would be the biggest disruption to hit the #education industry (one of the top four industries in the world besides health, war & energy). Imagine every phone transformed into a narrator and every class happening on-demand; not when the teacher delivers it, but only when the student can absorb. That is #MOOC -- short for Massive Open Online Courses. The most important and significant advancement possible because of the Internet -- something our future generations will always thank the inventor for. #MOOC’s simple #deployability has become the primary force in revolutionizing the entire #education industry. This article shares some facts, how, why, what, when & where the future of #education industry is headed for.

The World caught in the net, enabled for learning!

Today among every Five people living on the planet there are Two who have access to the Internet and what’s even more amazing, is that nearly all who do, have a #smartphone. Pushed by the likes of #edX, #Khan Academy, #Coursera, #Udacity, #Udemy et al, #MOOC has emerged as a popular genre, growing into a full-fledged, ‘for- profit’ and ‘not-for-profit’ industry. Two main formats are now available, one based on the connectivist approach known as #cMOOC, where content could be repacked as per need and requirements. The other goes by the name of #MOOCx, an extension of traditional and blended thinking with a clearly specified syllabus driven by recorded lectures and films through expert providers. Not much of mixing, re-purposing is possible here. Ever expanding #TED lectures and Khan Academy videos are the apt examples. #MOOC is no longer a trend, it’s the future. Two in every three US universities offer #MOOC so it’s only a matter of few years when on-line #education is the most sought after mode in the world. Age will no longer be a barrier and everyone will be able to join the #learning curve from wherever they want. In the times of Virtual Reality not just one session but the entire curriculum and a classroom experience, in and off campus, is delivered to the students within their individual comfort zones.

#Learning Transformation: Singularity

The Process of #Learning is transforming at a revolutionary pace. With Mobile #learning, cognitive computing – powered by #IBM’s #Watson --virtual and augmented reality, Artificial Intelligence, which is also self-learning, next generation group technologies, Robotics and gamification, have accelerated the process to achieve singularity. Today #digitally the technologies are already mimicking ‘ability to comprehend’ and can make humans ‘actually learn’ in a certifiable way. It’s a stage in time when the machine world and the human world would only be distinguished by, Sentient. But then humanoids – robots with emotions – are already here!

Scenario Today

User forums are transforming into Millions of mini Think Tanks propping interactive #learning among students, teachers, researchers and the industry specialists. No longer it’s just the scholars who are #learning, #education is evolving real time where the community is #learning through #MOOC interactions supported by virtual teams, projects, assignments et al.

The Rise of #MOOC

#MOOC was introduced on the initiative of Yale, Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Watershed developments came up in 2012 -- known as the year of the #MOOC -- as several universities and financial institutions backed service providers like #Coursera, #Udacity, #Khan Academy and #edX emerged on the scene. The first two were prominent ‘for-profit’ players. Khan Academy and #edX besides many high-end universities –Pennsylvania, UCLA (Berkeley), Texas (Austin), San Jose State turned out to be ‘not-for-profit’ partners. Threads were picked up by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, National Science Foundation and American Education Council. Investments came from Google and Pearson PLC. Venture capitalists too made their appearance around the same time giving a fillip to the process.

From Idea to #Revolution

Before the Universities’ move, the idea of online distance #education was presented to the world by Salman Amin Khan. A hedge fund analyst, Salman started helping a cousin late in 2003 with Maths. The turning point was when a mother wrote that her son had autism and was having a terrible time with Maths till the pupil started understanding decimals and fractions through the videos put out by Sal Khan. The result was more videos, more online students and resignation from the job.

Grants started flowing and he hired more people, began uploading videos on algebra, trigonometry, grammar, English, history and lot more. Then came the Los Altos experiment, a small town near San Francisco, where interactions with 7th graders turned into fillip classroom – studying and #learning at home and doing assignments in the class. During the trial runs, Kolkata was among the destinations connected with provision for a feedback. #MOOC was in the offing as Khan’s idea was lapped up by educational institutions. (See annexure – History and Evolution).

Today there is a video on every topic making use of pictures, graphs, live shots, stop motion and time lapse clips, robotics and simulations all rolled in one. Rather than teaching 30-40 in a class, a good teacher, empowered with modern gadgetry, can now make millions across boundaries learn from basic arithmetic to Vector analysis, a host of other subjects, topics and #courses simultaneously.

This #learning is based on conduction of a sequence of specified actions called algorithms. In this era of #smart #learning using tablets, e-readers, laptops and #smartphones, the students have a mechanism to know which mode of #learning suit their system, the most. Simulations are getting more and more real and simply accessing recorded lectures are replacing notes. Do schools kill creativity – Sir Ken Robinson, is a #TED Talk video watched 11.3 Million times. We take a rough guess of #TED lecture viewers to 5-6 times their subscriber base i.e. 30 Million, we can imagine the power of knowledge & #learning through videos.

Gamification, VR, AR – The Evolution of #MOOC

The single largest game changing opportunity still lies in virtualisation of entire universities & gamification of curriculums. This is where students can experience any university anywhere in the world using just a pair of VR headsets and attend any class anywhere, anytime. For the first time within VR #education environments it has been recorded that students never checked their social media messages and were fully attentive and engaged throughout the #learning process which is a leap forward from the Mobile world. No wonder Snapchats latest gizmo launched in 2016 was nothing other than a pair of fashionable VR glasses just ahead of the IPO.

In the entertainment industry computer graphics, multi-dimensional animation, SFX, stop motion simulations and gaming have brought the world face to face with Virtual Reality (VR).

Augmented Reality (AR), the integration of #digital information with the user's environment in real time, has taken things to another level. Unlike VR, which creates a totally artificial environment, AR uses the existing environment and superimposes new information on top of it. AR has added the real things you would see ordinarily instead of replacing them.

What next?

Contextual Computers offering Mixed Reality! Innovations being worked upon by Magic Leap Inc. have the potential to affect every business – make personal computers, laptops, even mobiles redundant. Head-mounted displays and wearable gizmos replacing the hardware of today, creating an image of any size and shape in the middle of nowhere may be tomorrow’s technology. #MOOC are already on the agenda of Magic Leap technology, wherein robots and may tackle manpower shortage. The 45 billion USD project should start unfolding in 2017. Next on the blocks are humanoids – robots with emotions and many times more intelligent than humans. (See annexure: Technologies – Learning was never so much fun)

It is about time that regulators, entrepreneurs, technology Cos, at least Private /self funded Universities and colleges, Coaching classes embark upon a defined ‘blended approach’ to #education with semester targets of increasing the #digital #education quotient and percentage increasing disproportionately over a defined time period. Time for technology and service providers to piece together robust technologies to create ‘a reality of an interactive class full of students & faculty’ virtually.


1. #MOOC in India - ROAD TO #SWAYAM

2. #Digital Empowerment of Humans

3. History and Evolution of #MOOC


Regulations: accreditation, federal regulations, ada University of Rhode Island.

Li Yuan (CETIS), Stephen Powell (CETIS) (2013), #MOOCs and Open #Education: Implications for Higher #Education

Dhawal Shah, (2016),

Degreeoffreedom, (2013), xMOOC vs cMOOC,

(2016) #SWAYAM – Inside India’s Massive Bet Online,

(2016), Policy Initiative,

Salman Amin Khan (2016), Khan academy,



#MOOC in India - ROAD TO #SWAYAM (study webs of active - learning for young aspiring minds)

By Sanjay Kaul, FEI, Founder UPES, UTM

There has been an increasing interest among Indian students to obtain standardised degrees through #MOOC. This had resulted in the announcement for launch of a Government-sponsored platform called the #SWAYAM (Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds) by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in 2014. The progress on this project has been on difficult terrain, though UGC-AICTE has been ordering building of the content. Scheduled for 2014 #SWAYAM website was launched in September 2016.

By November 2014 National Mission on #Education with Information and Communication Technology (#NME-ICT) through National Programme on Technically Enabled Learning (#NPTEL) had decided on 1200 #courses on the #MOOC menu. Half of the content for #SWAYAM was to be designed by experts from seven IITs, IISc, Bangalore and IIMB. These offerings had already been initiated for global audiences on #edX platform, as per an MOU between IITB and #edX. The understanding of the IITs, IIMB and other institutions too was that the content was to be developed on the guidelines provided by #edX. It was to be integrated with Aadhar card. Credit transfer policy across schools and colleges was put in place and replication was planned across clouds.

In July 2016, MHRD signed an agreement with a subsidiary of Microsoft and #SWAYAM website was launched on ‘BETA’ platform. The content for nearly 400 courses, already prepared in the #MOOCx mode, by #edX can only be uploaded now once these have been re-purposed. This is a huge task which will attract additional costs. Delays, as such in meeting the targets seem inevitable.

Government appears firm on #MOOC, which is reflected through the Gazette notification: “No University shall refuse any student for credit mobility for the #courses earned through #MOOCs. The note circulated by UGC promises “free online courses” by IITs, IIMs, Central Universities. Students across all universities in India will be able to earn credits on #SWAYAM. Each credit will involve 13-15 hours of #learning activities. To earn these credits students need to submit required number of assignments to qualify for proctored exams to be held at registered centre. Each exam would cost Rs 1000 that will cover the operating cost of the #courses. On completion the student is issued certificate by the university he/she is registered with.

The last Union Budget (2016-17) too had focused on providing entrepreneurship, #education and training in 2,200 colleges, 500 industrial training institutes, 300 schools and 50 vocational training centre via #MOOC. Another major initiative proposed was the launch of #digital literacy schemes to reach six-crore rural households in the next three years. The students in India are also being offered the flexibility to opt for Distributed Open Collaborative Courses (DOCCs) or Self-Paced Online Courses (SPOCs). Proliferation of #smartphones in India is also good news – our share in the market accounts for 21.3 per cent of sales in Asia-Pacific. This means even in small towns of India students can pursue online #courses.

JIO booked 50 million (5 crore) cell phone connections in 83 days relying only on data billing through internet use. While initially these bookings could be attributed to offer of free voice calls but futuristically not only it shows the belief of the industry in future viability of data connectivity but ‘digitalisation’ of common man. The prospective base for e-learners is widening, deepening and increasingly getting enabled.

The students in India are also being offered the flexibility to opt for Distributed Open Collaborative Courses (DOCCs) or Self-Paced Online Courses (SPOCs)
#SWAYAM - The website

To begin with 208 programs – 19 for schools, 97 for undergraduates, 84 for postgraduates, 6 certificate and 2 diploma #courses – were announced on #SWAYAM website, which has gone up to 219 -- target is to reach 2000. For the greater success of #SWAYAM, platform issues must be resolved so that #courses prepared under the IIT category can also be offered.

The content put up on the #SWAYAM website by #NPTEL and their platform e-Acharya, though not at par with global standards but offers good opportunity to commercial service providers to create world class videos with proper use of animation and graphics, reconstructing anecdotes related dramatisation and role plays.

The #courses hosted are to be in the form of audio, video lectures, reading material that can be downloaded/printed, self-assessment exercises, tests and quizzes and online interactive forum. The illustration given hereunder identifies as to which agency has been entrusted with content development in what area. These are: #NPTEL for engineering, UGC for post-graduation #courses, CEC for under-graduate programs, NCERT and NIOS for school #education, IGNOU for out of the school students and IIMB for management studies.

After China, India is close to replacing the US as the second largest enabled market. With 40,000 colleges and 700 Universities realisation of the potential of online #courses is inevitable.

#NPTEL has already been putting its #courses online on Youtube and on their own platform – e-Acharya branded as EPG Pathshala.

The Way Forward

In a country, which has a billion mobile users, and 65% of its population under 35 years of age, the significance of massive online platform cannot be ignored. For this to be successful, regulators may have to come up with guidelines, promotion policies and focused initiatives on creation of multimedia platforms for e-learning. Regulated and not-for-profit providers should be actively encouraged to work with ‘for profit’ operators for offerings of their programs across boundaries and platforms in modular form. Government initiative like #SWAYAM should be treated at par with large infrastructure projects like highways and pushed with the same fervour.

Private companies have to take a cue from the content being made by ProLearn #courses being run by a subsidiary of Manipal Group. They are competing with international players such as SimpliLearn and others. That #MOOC has opened quite a lot of opportunities for the small and medium range groups can be gauged from the fact that SME companies like Sanmarg Projects are contemplating introducing mid-stream projects of some tailor-made #courses at their remote sites where electrical and mechanical engineers could be given skills of a civil and infrastructural or instrumental engineer, to co-relate with job profile requirements. Net connections and #smartphones are a boon in remote areas, says Mr Manoj Mittal, which can help a non-engineer to pick up the skills of an Oil and Gas engineer or for that matter in any other area. #MOOC is a game changer in continuing #education already!

Today one can have access to #learning anytime - anywhere. All you need is to have a laptop, a #smartphone and learn to use the self help aids. Prem Thakur 19 is the perfect example. The son of an auto rickshaw driver made a swanky buggy looking car in just four months within the limited resources, that too only by using You Tube Tutorials.

Individuals can start earning through #MOOCs by #learning to build mobile games, swift computer programming step by step, responsive web development, iOS programming, data structure, HTML, CSS3 with an animated boob template, Google Analytics for beginners, managerial economics & entrepreneurship, banking and financial markets. Here sky is not the limit! And #MOOC implemented on a bigger scale within stipulated period is a potential game changer.

With 65% of India’s population below 35 and more than a billion cell phone connections, the potential of #MOOC is already massive.


(2016), University Grants Commission, New Delhi,

Abhishek Pandit, (2016), Can 2016 be the inflection year for MOOCs in India?,

Dhawal Shah, (2016), #SWAYAM: Inside India’s Massive Bet on #MOOCs,

(2016), Policy Initiative,



#Digital Empowerment of Humans

By Sanjay Kaul, FEI, Founder UPES, UTM

Technologies - #Learning was never so much fun!

No matter where you are -- New York city, Singapore, Kolkata or a remote village of Haryana -- you have answer to your queries, access to music of your liking, business solutions, remedies to your healthcare needs, access to material to prepare for your exams, assistance in writing your research papers through #MOOC material, videos and innumerable other assisting material. In case you are participating in a competition, artificially intelligent computer system is capable of preparing you for the contest answering questions in most simple formats.

Out of 7.5 billion population of the world close to 4 billion have now access to the internet! Before 2017 is out over half of these would have access to cognitive computing technology (CCT) through #smartphones and other means, making learning so much fun.

What is CCT? It is a computer system with conversational skills that understands the world, just like human beings do, which learns from

experience and can do better than a human being. Example is #Watson from the IBM stable. Build to participate in a quiz contest ‘Jeopardy’ against live teams – it was a winner of the 2011 edition -- #Watson is a search tool that receives data in natural language, understands implications, finds evidence, merges ranks and suppositions and gives answers. Today from healthcare to retail business, big data analytics to improving efficiency at work, enhancing quality of decisions, increase revenue, #Watson does all! These apps are also in use in the demanding financial services sector, including banking, forecasting and investment.

Medical data is doubling every five years. Structuring and analyzing is impossible for humans! Not for #Watson (and some other variants too) with ability to read 800 million pages per second and know findings from over 23 million global research studies. Using clinical research and lab results, along with physicians' notes and reports, these CCT devices help medical specialists to improve healthcare decisions and find new, more effective treatment options for many diseases, including cancer.

Psychiatrists across the world are using virtual reality (VR) to assess, investigate and manage people with mental health and also train healthcare staff. It is being used to treat phobias such as fear of heights or flying and social anxiety disorders in India. Coventry University has developed a program to train nurses globally to help work with people with dementia with empathy.

#Watson Mobile Development Challenge under project Azoft is to give people an opportunity to talk to outstanding personalities, such as superstars, scientists, politicians who are normally out of reach – dead or alive. Team Azoft has created #digital prototype of intelligent and charismatic persons with whom wFriend users can carry out a conversation. Users can ask Albert Einstein about the meaning of life, complain to Sigmund Freud about family issues or discuss future Home policy of UK with Theresa May.

#Watson is now incorporated into 17 different industries and IBM is working with more than 500 partners to build cognitive applications in retail, law, music, image recognition, hospitality business including cooking. In February 2016 #Watson CCT was harnessing and processing more than 2.5 billion gigabytes of data generated every day. Similar platforms are being developed by Google Artificial Intelligence teams (AlphaGo).

From virtual reality (VR), technologies have now mastered augmented realities (AR). It haunted the world in 2016 through Pokemon and Demon. Next coming is mixed reality through contextual computers and wearable technology that may make laptops, tablets and #smartphones obsolete. Our communication media is witnessing the era of ‘drones’ and the “clouds”. Visual #learning is moving towards gamified solutions.

Science teaching may have been boring, ineffective and expensive! Personalized and cognitive computing has made things far more interesting. Simulation labs and virtual experiments today are saving millions of dollars, turning some of the dangerous chemistry lab tests into pure joy. These are making #learning up to 101 per cent more effective than traditional methods, when teacher-aided classroom ports you to the virtual world through headset displays and #smartphones. These fully equipped labs could also be switched into tablets, laptops and PCs and displayed on larger screens.


Lauren J. Young, (2016), What Has IBM #Watson Been Up to Since Winning 'Jeopardy!' 5 Years Ago?,

Anna Orlova, (2014), Unique Strengths of IBM #Watson or How Can Your Business Benefit from Cognitive Computing,

Sandhya Kapoor, (2016), AI AI, Captain – A #Watson DevoxxEd use case from Sandhya Kapoor,

Cade Metz, (2016), what the ai behind alphago can teach us about being humans,



#MOOC – History and Evolution

By Sanjay Kaul, FEI, Founder UPES, UTM

The Pioneer
Whenever there is talk of Massive Open Online Courses (#MOOC) role of Khan Academy and its easy-to-comprehend videos come in for discussion. Sal Khan short for Salman Amin Khan, born in New Orleans to immigrant parents from Bangladesh and India and married to a Pakistani began tutoring his cousin Nadia using a service called Yahoo Doodle Images. After a while Khan’s other cousins, and their friends, started using his lessons. Because of the demand, Khan decided to make videos watchable on the internet and opened an account on You Tube. There was no looking back as larger crowds took to his videos. Later he used one more platform before moving to Wacom tablet to draw using ArtRage. Continued positive response made him quit his financial analyst’s job and he started focussing on tutorials under Khan Academy full time.

Today from live streaming of cricket to algebra, biology and exploring Mars you have expert-created content for every subject at every level

Khan, a double graduate and postgraduate from MIT who later pursued his MBA from Harvard Business School, is among the 100 most influential people in the world. He started out by creating videos focussed on teaching mathematics. Among his students was Bill Gates, who followed his videos to teach his children. Gates admission to the fact at a public function followed a meeting and flurry of grants starting with Google over the next few years made Khan Academy hire more staff, experts in various fields like history, business, science and arts and computer science to create #learning material on 6,000 different topics besides over 100,000 interactive exercises to sharpen skills. The content has been translated to other languages. The first official version was Spanish, in September 2013. In November 2016, Khan Academy had seven official websites in other languages, including in Hindi, and 20,000 closed-captioned translations on videos. Today from live streaming of cricket to algebra, biology and exploring Mars you have expert-created content for every subject at every level.

In India noticeable strides were made in 2013 -14 with seven IITs, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, BITS Pilani, XLRI Jamshedpur and some other leading engineering and management institutions giving a nod to #e-learning and #digital literacy.

Formal beginning

Massive Open Online Courses proliferated in the US between 2008 – 2012 with several universities and financial institutions coming forward to support the move of #edX, #Khan Academy, #Coursera and #Udacity. Many foundations, trusts and #education councils joined in and so did venture capitalists. UK's first homegrown #MOOC was launched on FutureLearn with 23 universities offering several online #courses to students in 2013. FutureLearn was the social #learning platform owned by Open University, the institution with 40 years of standing in distance #learning. British Council joined in as the marketing partners.

The Asian Perspective

In Asia, the beginning was made by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology with #Coursera registering 17,000 students in early 2013. India did extremely well posting 8.8 per cent logs in #Coursera’s race for touching the magical 5-million mark the world over in the same year. In the last available figures #Coursera had crossed 7-million registrations, India being number three after USA and China. The latter was a slow starter. China stunned the world with astounding figures in 2014. The online #education market in China was billed to reach US$20 billion by the end of 2016. Providing test preparation, language classes and skills updates for employment to the school and university entrants and job seekers are the main focus of the online private business there. China is to train 13 million school teachers in next five years.

Further strides were made in India in 2013 -14 with seven IITs, Indian Institute of Science, Bangaluru, BITS, Pillani, XLRI Jamshedpur and some other leading engineering and management institutions giving a nod to #e-learning and #digital literacy. Those enrolled included traditional and distance #learning university students, professionals, educators, business people, researchers and others interested in adding to their knowledge and degrees. Constraints like low connectivity and lack of matching infrastructure did hinder to a degree the process of extensive implementation of the system. IIT Bombay signed an MOU with #edX. The content by the National Institute as such was developed in sync with the agreement.

#MOOC’s worldwide enrollments were expected to rise from 13% in 2013 to 43% by the end of 2016. There were about 4,200 #MOOCs offered by more than 500 universities globally in mid-2015, providing #courses in areas like computer programming, mechanical engineering, agriculture, music, philosophy, literature, law, media and communication, hospitality, travel and tourism besides business administration both at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. And these have swelled since then literally by the week.

India has been quite steady with its #MOOC-related activities since. Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, have established a #Digital Campus and IT Services (DIGITS) office. They have roped in specialists for TINA (telecom, internet and network access), VISE (video security equipment) and (MMCR) multimedia classroom initiative, all inter-alia aimed at providing multi-purpose adaptable services for #MOOC, apart from reducing paperwork. Large-scale digitization work starts with an app called S-CATS, meant for student complaint redress system. Similar efforts are underway at IIT, Bombay and Delhi. BITS, Pillani, its associated campuses, XLRI, Jamshedpur and IIMB too have been agog with activity.

The evolution of #e-learning is now exponential commercially viable and is attracting both start-ups and venture capital besides ‘blended’ #learning approach by regulated academic institution operating under ‘not for profit’ structures.

As the technologies and platforms converge with markets with developed #digital infrastructure the way humans learn, get evaluated, qualified/certified would dramatically change and will then be forever changing.


Salman Amin Khan (2016), Khan academy,

(2016), Policy Initiative,

(2016) #SWAYAM – Inside India’s Massive Bet Online,

Dhawal Shah, (2016),

(2016), University Grants Commission, New Delhi,

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