Can MOOCs scale IIT across India
We need a plan to remove capacity constraints on the Indian education system, while delivering high quality education. There has been a mushrooming of private engineering colleges with capitation fees and uncertain quality. Why can’t we leverage the best faculty across the country to teach the maximum number of students? Luckily with technological advancements, it is now possible to conduct Massively Open Online Courses or MOOCs. The best universities in the world are experimenting with MOOCs. India should be looking at MOOCs for boosting capacity to provide quality education to millions of youngsters and expand its trained talent pool.
Here is how it would work. Let us say we admit 5 lakh students into an IIT MOOC. We currently have thousands of private centers across the country that provide JEE coaching classes. Rather than putting the attention simply on entrance, these kinds of centers can be used as local hubs for the MOOCs. The best IIT professors can deliver lectures in their subject areas that can be webcast across the country. Local facilitators, the equivalent of teaching assistants, can help answer students’ questions. Unanswered questions can make their way back to IIT professors via the MOOC system and answered online via video webcast or on the website. The local facilitators can be engineering graduates, need not be PhDs. Regular student meetings in the local centers, and some at statewide centers, can build a sense of kinship with the batch.