The university grants commission (UGC) has released a circular inviting all the eligible higher education institutions in the country for an application of interest to provide online courses or programmes for the 2019-2020 academic session. Now, education experts have serious doubt if this decision is a good approach or not.

In 2017, the government had announced that students can cover 20% of their respective course through the online portal of MOOCs or Swayam. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Courses which helps students attend classes online. Earlier students were rewarded degree only through distant learning programme or a full-time course. However, through the introduction of MOOC things have changed.

Earlier few online courses held by the premier institutes of the country were considered under UGC. Now, the government will be considering more higher education institutes for online courses, thus increasing the number of choices for the students. The UGC has taken this decision to attain a 30% Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER)  for higher education in India. Presently thus ratio stands at 25.2%. According to the President of NIIT University, Dr VS Rao, this percentage can increase with ‘intelligent use of technology’.

The government has made it mandatory for 15% of Indian University to provide online degree courses last month. According to records, the online portal of the education system is the fastest growing system which is bound to touch an estimated 1.96 billion US dollars by 2021.

Online courses come with their own baggage of problems. Issues of proxy students and technical inefficiency is a matter of concern. Another disadvantage of the system that has been observed is the lack of concentration of the students.

The main points of 2018 UGC online courses regulations are discussed as follows :

  • HEIs provided online courses only for the programmes approved by the statutory councils.
  • Only the programmes which had an offline programme were approved for online courses.
  • Open and Distance Learning had to treated as correspondence degree.
  • HEIs qualified if only they had a 26 NAAC rating and had an existence of five years.

The debate: How allowing online courses will at all be beneficial?

  1. Most educational experts support the fact that the introduction of online courses will ultimately improve the course structure both online and offline.
  2. The resources which will be spent might be an additional cost but using cloud computing can make the implementation of the online course Also, the trainers can be trained quite easily for handling the system.
  3. The cheating scenario can be a matter of concern in remote test centres. However, all the test centres are well equipped with CCTV surveillance which makes sure no unfair means are carried out in the examination centres.
  4. Test pattern will be mostly objective which will not be able to assess students of their true potential. However, the online portal education tests are equipped enough to conduct both objective and subjective type of questions.

Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the online courses as suggested by the experts:

  • Transferable credits earned by MOOC or Swayam will benefit the students to a great extent.
  • Students will get a better opportunity to upgrade their skills through the online flexible system of learning.
  • The institutes may dwell more into the investors and policy-making side of academics changing the future course of Education system of India.
  • Online courses will definitely make education more easily accessible to students from all over the country.
  • It will aim towards a better collaboration between the industry and the academic institutions.

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