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S W A Y A M Shikshit Bharat, Unnat Bharat (Issue no 22, 27 August - 2 September 2022)

 

S W A Y A M

Shikshit Bharat, Unnat Bharat

 

Dr. Rajesh Kumar

The Indian education system is witnessing transformation in the era of information and communication technology (ICT). There has been a sea change in teaching, learning and evaluation process from school to higher education level with the use of various ICT tools in line with the Digital India initiative. The entire scenario is thus being reinvented in a more innovative, flexible, effective and experiential manner.

The Ministry of Education (MoE), Government of India, has undertaken a number of reforms in order to transform the country's education system. SWAYAM is one such initiative. SWAYAM stands for Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds. This national program is based on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) platform. It is designed to achieve three fundamental principles of the New Education Policy viz, Access, Equity and Quality. SWAYAM provides teachinglearning resources through an online platform. It is free and broadly covers a variety of courses in social science, humanities, science, commerce, performing arts, engineering, technology, law, medicine, and agriculture etc. Nine national coordinators have been entrusted with the responsibility to design, produce and deliver best online courses across the country. The nine national coordinators include (i) NPTEL (National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning), (ii) CEC (Centre for Education and Communication), (iii) AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education), (iv) IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University), (v) IIMB (Indian Institute of ManagementBangalore), (vi) NITTTR (National Institute of Technical Teachers Training & Research), (vii) UGC (University Grants Commission), (viii) NIOS (National Institute of Open Learning), (ix) NCERT (National Council of Educational Research & Training). The responsibility for conducting the exams for various Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has been assigned to the National Testing Agency (NTA). For most of the courses, exams are conducted every semester through computerbased or hybrid mode. According to figures available on SWAYAM portal, currently a total 8082 online courses are being offered through 203 partnering institutions. The student enrolment for these courses is 2,79,56,971. Whereas, registration for the examinations is 22,06,713 and successful certification is 11,77,076. Here it is important to understand MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses and its creation process.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

SWAYAM is an Indian Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) platform. It aims to garner unlimited participation and open access to online courses. It has been developed by the Ministry of Education (MoE), National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, in collaboration with Google Inc. and Persistent System Limited. MOOCs may be pursued through anytime, anywhere mode. A learner has to register through the SWAYAM portal (https://swayam.gov.in/) which may be done in two cycles in a year. After successful registration, single or multiple courses may be pursued as per availability. The duration of a course varies from four to 24 weeks. A learner has to go through all the teaching, learning and assessment activities during a course and a certificate is awarded with marks/grades after successful completion of the course. The operative part of SWAYAM is based on MOOCs teaching-learning resources, which is divided into four quadrants

i.            e-Tutorial

ii.            eContent

iii.            Discussion Forums

iv.            Assessment. And the development and delivery of content for a MOOC includes Text (PDF, Word), Images (JPG, PNG, GIF & BMP), Sound (WAV, MP3), Video (AV1, MPG, MOV), Animations (SWG, GIF) and Presentations (PPT) etc.

Quadrant I: It is associated with direct teaching, which includes e-Tutorial such as audio-video content, animations, video demonstrations, virtual labs, video transcriptions, podcasts and so on. Further it is blended with e-Content under Quadrant II, which makes the teaching-learning process more innovative, flexible and effective.

Quadrant II: It mainly develops and delivers eContent, which includes selfinstructional material such as ebooks, case studies, presentations, reference links and further reading sources etc. Thereafter it moves towards Quadrant III, which is based on interaction between coordinator and learners.

Quadrant III: It is a discussion forum, which clarifies doubts of learners. It means a doubtclearing session for the learners by a course coordinator which may take place at any point of time during an online course. Thereafter, the assessment of teaching-learning activities, which is Quadrant IV.

Quadrant IV: It is the assessment part that checks the outcome of a course. Whether a learner has acquired required knowledge or skill and is eligible to get a certificate or not? The assessment may be conducted in the form of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs), Quiz, Assignments, Short and Long Answer Questions etc. This quadrant also includes Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to clarify common misconceptions among learners. The Ministry of Education (MoE) has provided detailed guidelines regarding MOOCs through SWAYAM portal explaining various steps such as defining features and scope of MOOCs; engagement of national coordinators and awarding the courses; development of course content and its technical specifications; responsibilities of subject experts; uses of multimedia lab; financial assistance; quality assurance; intellectual property rights; assessment and certification.

National MOOCs Coordinators

There are nine national MOOCs Coordinators in India. They have contributed significantly in the development and delivery of high quality course content in collaboration with partner institutions across the country.

(i)                 National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL): It is a project of the Ministry of Education, which was initiated by seven IITs (Bombay, Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras, Guwahati and Roorkee) along with Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. It is assigned to develop and deliver high quality online course content for all branches of engineering discipline. It has conducted a total of 4813 online courses along with 26 partnering institutions. The student enrolment for these courses is 1,88,13,698. Whereas, registration for the examinations is 19,46,575 and successful certification is 10,94,577.

 

(ii)               Consortium for Educational Communication (CEC): It is one of the Inter-University Centers, which was set up by University Grants Commission (UGC). It primarily designs, produces and delivers course content for under-graduate education. It has conducted a total of 1116 online courses along with 19 partnering institutions. The student enrolment for these courses is 22,46,609. Whereas, registration for the examinations is 52,661 and successful certification is 34,658.

 

(iii)             All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE): AICTE is the National MOOCs Coordinator (NC) which primarily designs, produces and delivers self-paced and international courses. It has conducted a total of 286 online courses along with 7 partnering institutions. So far, the student enrolment for these courses is 10,70,061. Whereas, registration for the examinations is 1,59,792 and successful certification is 18,559.

 

(iv)             Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU): It is a Central University that has contributed remarkably in the education sector by increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) through high-quality Open and Distance Education. It designs, produces and delivers course content for those students who are out of schools. IGNOU has conducted a total of 700 online courses in collaboration with three partnering institutions. Hitherto, the student enrolment for these courses is 10,32,303. Whereas, registration for the examinations is 14,989 and successful certification is 5942.

 

(v)               Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB): It is one of the leading management education institutes in Asia and also takes the credit of offering MOOCs on edX (American massive open online course provider created by Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology). It has been entrusted with the task to develop and deliver high quality courses on teacher training programs. So far, IIMB has conducted a total of 203 online courses along with 3 partnering institutions. The student enrolment for these courses is 5,28,242. Whereas, registration for the examinations is 13,548 and successful certification is 8902.

 

(vi)             National Institute of Technical Teachers Training and Research (NITTTR): It is an autonomous institute of Government of India which primarily aims to improve the quality of engineering education system. NITTTR has been entrusted with developing and delivering online course content for teacher training programs. It has completed a total of 157 online courses along with 3 partnering institutions. The student enrolment for these courses is 2,95,165. Whereas, registration for the examinations is 6383 and successful certification is 5111

 

(vii)           University Grants Commission (UGC): It is a statutory body of Government of India for coordinating and maintaining standards of university education in the country. It has six regional centers located in Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bhopal, Guwahati and Bangalore. UGC has been entrusted with the task to design, produce and deliver online course content for nontechnical post-graduation courses. It has completed a total of 263 online courses along with 133 partnering institutions. The student enrolment for these courses is 2,84,812. Whereas, registration for the examinations is 12,310 and successful certification is 9327.

 

(viii)         National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS): It is an autonomous organization of Government of India that offers secondary, higher secondary and vocational courses through open and distance mode. It also offers open basic and elementary teacher education programs. NIOS designs, produces and delivers online course content for school education. It has conducted a total of 343 online courses in collaboration with one partnering institution. So far, 33,27,638 students have enrolled for these courses.

 

(ix)             National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT): It is an autonomous organization of the Government of India to assist and advise the central and state governments on policy framing and implementation on qualitative improvement of school education. NCERT has been assigned to develop and deliver online course content with respect to school education. It has conducted a total of 201 online courses in collaboration with eight partnering institutions. The student enrolment for these courses is 3,58,263 so far.

 

Recognition of SWAYAM MOOC: The potential of MOOCs offered by SWAYAM is very high and it is recognized across the country by the Government of India. In this regard, University Grants Commission (Credit Framework for Online Learning Courses through SWAYAM) Regulations, 2021 has been notified. It allows an institution/university to offer up to 40% of the total course in a particular program in a semester through MOOCs offered by SWAYAM platform. This move shall give a major boost to the Indian education system to meet with the global parameters qualitatively as well as quantitatively.

 

While India is ushering in a new era of information and communication technology enabled education system, SWAYAM courses are contributing significantly in this regard. It plays a pivotal role in achieving the 50 percent target of Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education till 2035 as per mandate of National Education Policy, which envisages India as a 'Global Knowledge Hub' in the 21st Century.

 

(The author is Assistant Professor (Sr.) & Coordinator, Department of Mass Communication, Central University of Jharkhand, Ranchi. He can be reached at rajesh.kumar@cuj.ac.in.) Views expressed are personal.