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'Online courses can boost vocational training, skills'

Business Standard, New Delhi, 15 November 2014 - Vocational education institutes can benefit immensely from massive open online courses (MOOCs) and expand the availability of skilled labour, said a vision paper of the FICCI on Friday.

Released at the FICCI Higher Education Summit, the paper, 'and the future of Indian higher education', has said the traditional industrial training institutes can also benefit from integrating MOOCs for students and trainers.

The FICCI paper said MOOCs offer a way to gain skills not taught in the format sector, demonstrate them to potential employers and stay abreast of developments at the workplace.

These courses are conducted online for students across the world. Over 10 million students globally have enrolled in thousands of such courses offered by just the top three to four providers of MOOCs, the paper said.

It also said MOOCs have garnered investments from institutions and venture capitalists. In this space, Indian students form the second largest pool of students attending MOOC courses.

FICCI said in the formal sector, MOOCs offer an alternative to lecture-mode classroom instruction using digital content that can be downloaded.

This is on the back of huge faculty shortage in higher education.

However, it said that clarity on completion and certification (drop-out rates are in excess of 90 per cent) and revenue models would have to evolve over time.

Even for branding, publicity and recruitment of foreign students, FICCI said Indian institutions and teachers could use MOOC platforms to create and conduct MOOCs for students all over the world, similar to universities abroad.

Since employability of graduates continues to be an issue, FICCI has suggested that there could be language, communication and soft skills MOOCs to bridge the gap.

While the government has recently launched Swayam - an Indian MOOC platform - FICCI has said the government should develop systems to certify competence of people who have taken MOOC-based courses.

It added that National Assessment and Accreditation Council (Naac) and the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) can accredit MOOC programmes and courses for use in credit transfer between MOOC providers and formal and non-formal educational institutions.

Apart from having MOOCs to train teachers, FICCI has suggested that employers may encourage their own human resource departments to arrange for continued education of their employees in emerging areas of technology or management.

This will also help boost their vocational skills.


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