NIIT, edX Partner for Online/Blended Learning in India

(Image: S B F Ryan, Creative Commons)

(Image: S B F Ryan, Creative Commons)

NIIT, a training and skills development firm in India, has partnered with edX in an attempt to offer online education using a blended learning model.  Online courses will be offered that have local instructors.

“Through this partnership, NIIT and edX aim to create high-impact learning experiences for learners by offering a blended learning MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) model,” NIIT Chairman Rajendra Pawar told reporters.

Pawar went on to say that the course would be engaging, offering live interaction experience that extended beyond the core content available through the MOOC.

Around 10 programs within areas programming using Python from MIT, HTML5 from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Data Science and Analytics from Columbia University, and Data Science and Engineering with Spark from University of California, Berkeley, will be offered through the partnership.

The courses will be available to students, as well as professionals looking to increase the skills they currently hold.

Although MOOCs are currently quite popular, studies show the completion rate of such courses is very low, reaching less than 10%.  Low retention and completion rates have proven to be major concerns for educators and institutions, as only about 5% of enrolled students will complete a free MOOC.

MOOC rates that offer paid verification courses are not faring much better, as they typically see completion rates of around 60%.

“So, there is significant scope for improvement which this initiative is targeting with its unique blended learning model,” said Pawar.

Through the partnership, courses will be pre-configured to include the MOOC, blended services from NIIT, and a certification exam from an institutional partner, reports The Economic Times.

There are currently 730,000 subscribers to edX’s online education facility.  Rahul Patwardhan, Chief Executive Officer of NIIT, believes that amount will continue to increase to reach five million in the next three years.  Of that, 5% are expected to enroll in the blended model, which will come at a cost of around $150, or 10,000 R.

Patwardhan said that the first-of-its-kind partnership is expected to bring together content from the top 100 universities around the world, adding that edX has never before come together with someone in order to offer a blended learning model.  While edX currently offers courses for free online, with some participants paying for certification, NIIT plans to offer blended services in each of its 350 locations across India.  Blended services will be offered through local instructors, skill building, practice project, and placement services.

While its focus will remain on India, the partnership will also be used for NIIT’s business in China, Africa, and South East Asia.

Anant Agarwal, CEO edX and MIT Professor, said, “India has always been a focus for us, especially with the government’s emphasis on Digitalisation and Upskilling. With this strategic tie-up, edX will offer a tremendous opportunity to learners to access high-quality education.”

edX is a non-profit joint venture between Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which offers online courses from the leading universities around the world, including Berkeley, Caltech, IIT-Bombay and Princeton University.