Rise of Online Learning, MOOCs in India Continues


In India, online education is increasingly considered a powerful career booster. In a country where 300,000 students take the IIT Joint Entrance Exam for one of the 8,652 spots at the elite tech University, MOOCs seem like the only reliable alternative to accelerate one’s career.

Especially for technical professions, India’s online enrollment is high. About 8% of Coursera enrollment comes from India. For edX, another top MOOC platform, the percentage is at 12%.

Indians, however, do not just favor US-produced MOOC and online courses. Top technical universities across India offer free lectures on more than 700 courses, according to Technology Review. This enables students at regional Indian colleges to access quality education off-campus.

Unlike Europe and the U.S. where many learners pursue online learning as a way to satiate a side interest or passion, for Indian citizens is a means to a better career. George Anders writes at the MIT Technological Review:

“They are a more serious bunch, hoping that the right technical courses can help them win better jobs.”

While a European or US online course will see a high dropout rate just after a few classes, usually in psychology, philosophy or the arts, an Indian student is more likely to complete the course — and on top of that is willing to pay up to $250 for a course or exam completion certificate.

edX chief executive Anant Agarwal says that MOOCs are an opportunity for a better future for many Indians :

“I believe that India ultimately will be a much bigger market for MOOCs than the U.S. If you’ve been trampled all your life, now you find you can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best.”

Despite the popularity and significance of MOOCs, adoption is still slow. According to a new survey by interactive education company Talentedge, digital learning is very popular in South India, with the region boasting of a 37% of India’s total online enrollment.

The study also shows that MOOCs attract older students at senior level positions as opposed to young managers in the 22-25 age group. More than five out of ten senior managers enroll in digital courses; at the same time, only 8% of entry-level staff enrolls in online courses.

The Talendedge survey reveals that poor interactivity, course provider credibility and Internet connectivity are the top factors that discourage people from opting for online education over traditional education.

The survey’s findings will serve as a tool to help the Indian government identify those actions and processes necessary to digitize India, Talentedge adds.