MOOCs in India

Sui Fai John Mak explores, “Why c and x MOOCs are attracting different number of participants?” We’ll come back to this in a while.

In another very interesting article that lays out MOOC Student Demographics, by The Augmented Trader, I was looking at what’s happening with the MOOC with Indian learners.

In this article by Tucker Balch, looking at Country of Residence, Indians were ranked #3 for course completion, and interestingly, were ranked #2 as far as students who did not complete the course. Of course the gaps in the numbers will also have to be considered. However, various other reports will tell you that MOOCs are popular in India.

What does this mean for MOOCs that originate in India? Does it seem like a good time for Indian institutions to get on to the MOOC bandwagon? (In-spite of the below-average access infrastructure in the country)

Let’s come back to Sui Fai John Mak’s article on the success of c and x MOOCs. (You need to read the full article, linked above), but let me look at three of the success factors mentioned in the article. (In the article, these factors are regarding xMOOCs; for the purpose of this post, I am thinking of a MOOC without any prefix)

Branding: Which Indian educational institute is the strongest brand to attract students? Especially if you have to compete with the likes of Stanford, MIT and such. And then, it’s not just brands, it’s the “super-professors” that Sui Fai John Mak’s refer to in the article.

Well-established Resources: I’d be happy to be proven wrong, but Indian institutes do not make a conscious effort in developing good content and the necessary support structure around them.

Assessment and Certification: This is where things really fall apart, I suppose. Formal online assessment is not allowed in the country and if you cannot certify students without formal assessment, what do you do? And here, it’s not just the institutes who are failing, it’s the industry too, which insists on formal certification from “well-known” institutes.

A MOOC-education should mean more than just knowledge-acquisition; it needs to be recognised, endorsed and accepted. And this will require a strong participation of the industry in developing a MOOC that makes sense in the crazy-assessment-oriented educational society that we are.   If we consider the three factors that help MOOCs become successful, then:

  • Branding issues can be overcome by well-define University-Industry Linkages (UIL). The UIL could be with a group of companies in a sector or an industry association. Industry usually understands branding better than the university, this is where they can help. Industry finds a source of well-educated, employable human resources, which reduces their recruitment cost.
  • Industry can provide requirements and support resources in the form of digital and interactive content, faculty support, best practices and management support to work with academia to design contemporary and current curriculum.
  • If the industry is willing to forgo formal certification from well-known institutes for well-trained resources who have been taught a curriculum that the industry has endorsed, the obstacles by the meta-educational organisations in the country are easily overcome. Innovative practices in assessing student performance enables industry to identify employable resources easily.

The time for MOOCs in India has come, the right partners have to join in.

TalentSprint Raises $4M In Series A From Nexus Venture Partners | VCCircle

Hyderabad-based skill development and training company TalentSprint Educational Services Pvt Ltd has raised Rs 20 crore ($4 million) in series A funding from Nexus Venture Partners. As part of the investment, Nexus Ventures’ MD Anup Gupta will join the company’s board.

Set up in 2009 by Madhumurty Ronanki, Santanu Paul, and JA Chowdary, TalentSprint offers employability programmes to professionals, using experiential learning and iPEARL, its technology platform for the IT and BFSI sectors. The learning programmes are delivered to students, job-seekers and young professionals to make them job-ready.

(Via TalentSprint Raises $4M In Series A From Nexus Venture Partners | VCCircle)

Edusys Raises $7.5M From Sequoia Capital | VCCircle

Bangalore-based online education training and certification company Edusys Services Pvt Ltd has raised $7.5 million (Rs 38 crore) from Sequoia Capital. With this round of funding, Edusys aims to expand its business by introducing new products and strengthening its core team and technology platform. Launched in 2004, Edusys currently has a customer base of more than 3,500 companies globally and supports students from over 150 countries. It offers specific courses and tests, which span a vast spectrum of conventional and emerging domains of learning and work. The company has offices in the USA, the UK, Singapore and Australia besides Bangalore and Bhubaneswar in India.

(Via Edusys Raises $7.5M From Sequoia Capital | VCCircle)



The Context of Statistics


Anurag Behar, CEO of the Azim Premji Foundation, wrote an article yesterday in the Mint, describing how private and government schools are equally incompetent to provide good education. In the article he provides a statistic:

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment, which places us on learning levels at number 73 in a list of 74 nations, just above Kyrgyzstan, concludes that there is no difference in learning levels across private and government schools. The study that I refer to above concludes that learning is better for children who stayed back at government schools, versus those who were moved to private schools, using financial support on offer as a part of the research design.

(Via Alike in incompetence – Views –

I am assuming the “us” refers to India and we are second last in that list.

I went on to the OECD site, picked up the PISA 2009 Plus Results : Performance of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science for 10 additional participants. [PDF, 193 pages 13MB].

I searched for India on the list. It wasn’t there. Instead, two separate regions were listed under the country name: Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

First, it seems obvious to me that two states participating in a survey hardly are representative of a nation. Secondly, it said in the report, that:

Himachal Pradesh-India and Tamil Nadu-India did not meet PISA standards for student sampling. Due to irregularities in the student sample numbers, it was established after the testing that these economies sampled from student lists that were often incomplete: not all 15-year-olds within the school were listed. It was not possible to determine whether any bias existed in the obtained sample. Caution should be exercised when using the data from Himachal Pradesh-India or Tamil Nadu-India and when interpreting the reported analyses.

It is no secret that education in India is facing severe problems, but to take unqualified results from a very small sample and apply it to the nation, is another thing.

NYC tech takes on the classroom | Crain’s New York Business

New boost for interactive content:

Partly spurred by its concentration of intellectual talent, New York is also becoming a hotbed of innovation in educational technology. Venture capital investment in education-related startups in the metro area totaled $95 million in 2011—an 84% spike over the prior year, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers/National Venture Capital Association. The number of startups receiving investment money rose to 14, up from eight in 2010.In the long run, newfangled interactive textbooks like the ones Apple and its publishing partners previewed last Thursday are likely to be a minor aspect of education’s digital revolution. But Apple’s entry is certainly helping the revolution along.

All doesn’t seem to be well, however:

In the fourth quarter, VC financing in the New York area plunged 40%, compared with the prior quarter, to $545.1 million.

But experts say the tech-education industry is just getting started. The U.S. business for e-learning products and services in the pre-K to 12-and-higher education markets will grow to $11 billion in 2015, from $7.6 billion in 2011, according to research firm Ambient Insight.

(Via NYC tech takes on the classroom | Crain’s New York Business)

Hat Tip: Samudra Sen

Pearson In Talks To Buy Educomp’s 50% Stake In Indiacan

Pearson Plc., the world’s largest education service provider and one of the leading media groups, is in advanced stages of discussion with Educomp Solutions Ltd to buy out the latter’s 50 per cent stake in Indiacan, a vocational education company formed as a joint venture between the two companies, at least two sources with direct knowledge of the development told VCCircle.

While the details of the company’s valuation are not known, sources close to the development peg the deal value (for 50 per cent stake) in the range of Rs 350 crore ($70 million) to Rs 500 crore ($100 million).

In 2009, Pearson Plc. invested $17.5 million in Indiacan (then known as Educomp Vocational Education Pvt Ltd), thereby valuing the company at $36 million.

(Via Pearson In Talks To Buy Educomp’s 50% Stake In Indiacan | VCCircle)



Now A Stationery Firm Launches Education Tablet!

Tablet makers appear to see a big market for selling devices to students. After Datawind’s blockbuster launch of the world’s cheapest Tablet Aakash and the more recent launch of Classpad, it is the turn of E-class Education System Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of public listed stationery products maker Sundaram Multi Pap Ltd to launch an education Tablet.

The company has launched a new Tablet PC called ‘e-class Tablet’. The Tablet comes inbuilt with e-class content and has been developed by Sundaram Group for Maharashtra State Board students. The Tablet has the entire syllabus of a selected standard preloaded inside it in a video format that includes animations, audio and visuals.

There are two models of the Tablet, a basic and a premium one. The basic model comes with a resistive touchscreen and is priced at Rs 8,000, while the capacitive touchscreen model is priced at Rs 12,000.

(Via Now A Stationery Firm Launches Education Tablet! « Consumer Tech « – India Internet, mobile, consumer tech, business tech)