Indian students make for second largest chunk in online education

Kirtika Suneja Posted online: Monday, Sep 23, 2013 at 0000 hrs
New Delhi : More than a year after Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched edX, their massive online education initiative, India has shown the second highest number of enrolments with more than 150,000 students from the country taking various courses on the online platform. Of the 1.2 million students on edX from all countries, 30% are from the US while 13% are from India.

EdX offers MOOCs or massive online open courses and interactive online classes in subjects including law, history, science, engineering, business, social sciences, computer science, public health and artificial intelligence. At present, there are 70 courses on edX.

“Engineering courses were in high demand initially and then subjects in public health became very popular with Indian students,” said Anant Agarwal, president, edX, and added that the courses that can be taken online now were available earlier only in the brick-and-mortar mode.

While close to 30% Indian students opt for courses in circuits and electronics, 21% are going for subjects related to computer graphics and a similar number for courses in artificial intelligence.

EdX is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is governed by MIT and Harvard. The two institutes had pumped in $60 million into the platform last year. EdX courses are open to everyone and are free of cost.

In June this year, IIT Bombay became an edX partner and Agarwal added that the platform will now tap into corporates to get more funds.

“EdX recently welcomed IIT Bombay to our X consortium. Joining the X consortium enables IIT Bombay to develop next-generation online and blended learning courses, as well as fill a specific professional development need in India: Training engineering teachers,” said Agarwal.

With approximately 5,000 engineering colleges in the country and student enrolment in these colleges now over 1.25 million, IIT Bombay will use edX’s open source platform to increase the number of qualified and experienced engineering educators in India and beyond.

On completing a course which includes taking online exams, participants receive a certificate of achievement which certifies that one has fully participated in an edX course made available through one of its institutions.

“Today, the certificates of achievement are free. This may change in the future to help cover our costs. Going ahead, the certificate might be charged but the course will continue to be free,” Agarwal said.