Online Education is the Future – But is it MOOCs?

Online Education is the Future – But is it MOOCs?

The fusion of technology and edification has heralded a new dawn across the educational panorama.

The juggernaut of online education has been sweeping away the ground beneath us with its electrifying potential to democratize education in its true sense. This very notion of online education has helped it garner unequivocal endorsement from all quarters of the educational fraternity. It has been touted to be the future of education delivery with digital footprints increasing at breakneck speed across the globe. Online education can therefore play a monumental role in bridging the gap between the traditional mode of learning and the contemporary requirements of the digitalized world. In the recent years it is unimaginable to discuss online education without the reference of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) which is a program of learning offered by universities through the online medium free of cost to a vast number of learners across the globe. Such has been the influence of MOOCs that it has been perceived by some to be synonymous to online learning. However, it is a matter of certitude that there is much more to online education than just MOOCs.   

The popularity of MOOCs surged as it became a port of call for legions of voracious learners seeking learning opportunities to upgrade their knowledge and skills without shelling out a penny. But, it is an irony that though thousands of learners enroll for MOOCs, only a fraction of them successfully complete the course. This leaves a lot to be desired where MOOCs replacing the traditional offline courses is concerned, as its emphasis is more on delivering content rather than providing support and assessing the students’ performance. This is where the true prowess of online education comes into picture which can leverage technological underpinnings to provide more credibility to its courses. Today, classroom is not the only platform to disseminate information. Instead, a plethora of online learning tools have mushroomed which not only delivers content but also facilitates personalized learning. This provides students with an interactive and innovative learning experience followed by thorough performance assessment and accreditation. 

Online education is indeed the future wherein the focus shall be on providing targeted, skill-based and revenue generating courses. Unlike MOOCs, eLearning courses shall emphasize on providing online learning support and monitoring to ensure that students complete the course and enhance their skills. Learning analytics shall become the vital cog in the wheel as it can harness the potential of data science and artificial intelligence to design customized pedagogy for students. The students’ online footprints can be used to track the students’ learning pattern and behavior, to provide them with effective solutions for augmenting their learning. Also, by incorporation of advanced metrics students can measure their performance and map their competencies. Furthermore, students completing their assignments, projects and proctored examinations enhance the credibility and accountability. Online courses being embedded with gamification tools is like a breath of fresh air for students who are often subjected to monotonous and theoretical content. Augmented learning has the potential to give a complete new dimension to the process of simulation fostering better understanding of concepts and their applications.       

The prowess of eLearning can be harnessed to the fullest through amalgamation of the traditional and online mode of education. This approach of blended learning shall become the new normal in the near future wherein technology shall not just be used as a frill but as a tool to complement and enhance traditional pedagogy. The eLearning mode can also provide a boost for implementation of the flipped classroom concept. The online learning platform can help students acquire knowledge by accessing learning materials outside the classroom as per their convenience. This shall facilitate the classroom time to be used for discussions, problem-solving and interaction between teachers and pupils, and go a long way in enhancement of high order thinking skills among students, preparing them to perform various non-routine analytical tasks in their careers.

The future of online education seems to be bright with a bevy of innovative tools at its disposal which can infuse renewed vigor into the education system. The rising aspiration of the student community across the world augurs well for the growth of online education. As per the report by GMI (Global Market Insights), a global market research firm, global eLearning market size was valued at USD 165 billion in 2015 and is expected to exceed USD 240 billion by 2023. Online education can prove to be a crucial enabler in up-skilling and re-skilling of learners making them proficient to take on global challenges and emerge to be vital contributors in their respective fields. Thus, online education is rightly being trumpeted as the next big thing in education waiting to unleash its full potential to make a dent in the universe.   

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