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Enrolment open: AuthorAID free online course in Grant Proposal Writing & Research Writing starting on 18 April 2017

Online Course in Grant Proposal Writing & Research Writing For early career researchers in developing countries.  
Supporting  Developing Country Researchers in Publishing Their Work…AuthorAID is coordinated by INASP.

Following the success of the third AuthorAID MOOC (massive open online course), we are pleased to announce our upcoming online course in grant proposal writing and research writing. This is an open online course and it is free of cost.

Who the course is for: Early career researchers in developing countries.

Main topics covered in the course: Literature review, publication ethics, making a research plan, writing a grant proposal, targeting the right journals, writing and publishing a research paper.

Course duration: 8 weeks

Course dates: 18th April to 12th June 2017

Course leaders: Andy Nobes and Ravi Murugesan of INASP, along with guest facilitators from the AuthorAID network

Complete information about the course along with enrolment instructions are available in the course announcement document. Please go through this document carefully if you are interested in the course. The deadline to enrol is 18th April 2017.

Please note that although this is an open course, if we see a very high number of people joining, we may have to limit enrolment due to server capacity. We suggest that you enrol in the course as soon as possible if you are interested.

INASP designs and runs capacity development activities that cater for both women and men’s interests and needs. We use methods that increase active participation and an inclusive learning environment, adopting attitudes and behaviors that value differential experiences and perspectives and ensuring listening and respect for each other’s experiences and views.  Read More…Brochure – 5 pages (pdf)     /         http://www.authoraid.info/en/

40% of NPTEL online study applicants in 2016-17 from Tamil Nadu

Times of India | Amrutha Varshinii | TNN |  Feb 7, 2017 |  40% of online study applicants in 2016-17 from Tamil Nadu |

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu continues to be a trailblazer in the field of online study platforms. As NPTEL (National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning) completes another year with as many as 130 courses introduced, it has emerged that as many as 40% of all NPTEL applicants were from the state in 2016-2017.  Teachers, doctors and IT employees are opting for courses in large numbers along with college students. This, NPTEL sources say, is due to the receptiveness of the state and the strong network with colleges. “A faculty crunch in several engineering colleges in interior parts of TN is a big factor contributing to these kind of numbers,” said Andrew Thangaraj, professor of electrical engineering at IIT-M and NPTEL national coordinator.

NPTEL has tie-ups with institutions like Pondicherry Engineering College, SSN, SRM University and National Engineering College Kovilpatti, among 200, that enable students to take up courses relevant to their field of study or interest, and gain college credits by completing the online course.  Another big draw for TN students, most of who pursue professional courses, is that courses on electrical circuits, modern applications and data analytics bolster their CVs. “A course certificate from one of the IITs carries a certain weight for the students,” said Thangaraj. The competitive exam culture is another contributing factor. “Courses like ‘English for Engineering’ have been helping students prep for exams like GMAT, Some niche subjects like ‘Electrical circuits’ helps not only clear GATE exams but also build a profile towards securing a job at a Public Sector Units (PSU),” said Prathap Haridas, IIT-M professor and NPTEL co-coordinator.  IT firms like Cognizant technology, Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and HCL give their employees incentives for finishing specific courses. –  Courtesy

Information received regarding SWAYAM under Right To Information Act, 2005

Legally India.com | 05 January 2017 |  Author: sflc_admin | Opinion |

SWAYAM, the national Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) project established by Ministry of Human Rights Development (MHRD), is a laudatory effort set to serve as a source for courses related to all fields from high school to post graduation. This one stop destination is meant to bridge the educational and digital divide by ensuring learning resources are made accessible in consonance with principles of equity and affordability in the varying socio-economic sectors of the country. Last year it was announced that the development of SWAYAM platform has been decided to be pursued through proprietary platform, disregarding free and open source software (FOSS) options that have proved successful and are being used in MOOC platforms such as edX at the global scale.

SFLC.in conducted in-depth research regarding the discussions that took place by the committees within the MHRD that led to the decision of choosing proprietary software, despite India having implemented the Policy on adoption of Open Source Software for the Government of India in 2015 that makes it a mandatory requirement for all e-governance projects undertaken by various Government organizations to adopt open source software as a preferred option in comparison to closed source software, and wherever making the decision to choose closed source software, to provide reasons in writing. To generate awareness about this issue, a Joint Letter, signed by various academics, non profit organizations, and individuals, was drafted by us and sent to the MHRD. A copy of this Joint Letter can be accessed here.

[Our findings from this research, and a time-line of the events since the inception of the project in 2014 can be accessed here and here respectively.]

In addition, we also filed applications under the Right to Information Act, 2005 for a complete set of minutes of certain meetings that were unavailable on MHRD’s online portal. The applications filed by us asked for the minutes of the meeting held by the technical committee that decided to use proprietary software and awarded the contract to Microsoft. In the reply received by us, we were provided with the minutes of the 9th meeting of the SWAYAM Project Cell (SPC) where Microsoft was finalized as the Systems Integrator for SWAYAM.

It has details of the discussions regarding the projected costs and further states that the technical and management committees constituted by The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) for the purpose of deciding the method of development of SWAYAM had come to the conclusion that in-house developers from National Informatics Centre Services Inc. (NICSI) should be recruited for developing the platform, and “keeping in view the complexity of the project and the requirement of timely and reliable servicing facility, SWAYAM should be developed on a proprietary IT platform rather than open source.”

Furthermore, it states that available systems of Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, and SAP were evaluated, and Microsoft was chosen for the following reasons:

  1. Microsoft platform has the whole bouquet of systems required for designing the MOOCs application, viz SQL, Windows servers, Share point, Dot Net and System Centre.
  2. The Software licenses (Educational versions) are available at highly subsidized rates under Education Discount Policy through their Authorized Education Partners (AEPs) as LSPs.
  3. Microsoft platform is available on DGS&D Rate Contract, so we can buy the same off the shelf.” [Point 9.3 of the minutes of the meeting]

Watch this space for updates on further RTIs we have filed on this topic. For the entire text of the RTI reply and the minutes of the above mentioned meeting, refer here.

Author: sflc_admin
©Republished under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) Licence

IIT-Bombay to set up centres for teacher-training programme nationwide

The Indian Express | Priyanka Sahoo | Mumbai | November 11, 2016 |

THE Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, (IIT-B) is planning to set up a first-of-its-kind centre of excellence to train teachers across the nation on how to integrate technology in their teaching. Through a combination of online and offline learning methodologies, the institute plans to extend its existing teacher training programmes to over hundred million teachers. The institute, which has already trained around 1.5 lakh engineering college teachers through its ‘Train 10,000 Teachers (T10KT)’ programme, now aims to extend the training to teachers from schools, colleges and vocational training institutes.  The proposal to build a ‘Centre of Excellence for Online and Blended Learning and Educational Outreach’ was tabled in an alumni meet held last month to invite financial contributions. The estimated budget to establish the centre is around Rs 100 crore.  While the other teacher training models of the institute are funded by the MHRD, the IIT-B has sought financial aid from its alumni association to set up the centre. The proposed centre will have three wings. While the research wing will conduct research in the field of education technology, the innovation wing will implement the research findings through projects.

The outreach wing will conduct massive teacher training programmes through a combination of methodologies. “We have been providing training to teachers of engineering colleges since 2009. With our experience, we feel there is scope to extend the training to teachers from schools, high schools, and Industrial Training Institutes,” said Deepak Phatak, professor in the computer science and engineering department. He said the centre will mimic the T10KT — a four-week model where teachers are taught through pre-recorded videos, live-streamed lectures from the IIT-B, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and workshops. Phatak, who has been spearheading the T10KT and other projects launched under the MHRD’s National Mission on Education Technology through ICT, said there was an urgent need to improve the skills and teaching methodologies of teachers, particularly in remote locations.  “The teachers don’t have to physically come to Mumbai for the training, they can complete part of the training at home and part of it at the nearest remote centre,” said Phatak.  The teachers will also be evaluated throughout the training process. The centre will be beneficial for teachers in rural areas, said Sandeep Gund, a primary school teacher in Pashtepada in Thane district. He, however, pointed out that many teachers in rural India do not have access to internet or gadgets. “Such a training course will be beneficial only if access to technology increases,” said Gund. –  Courtesy

Technology to the assistance of the flipped classroom model

Live Mint | Wed, Oct 19 2016 | V. Sridhar | Krunal Sagan | Opinion |

The Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC) massified the reach of online education through asynchronous delivery of lectures from the well-renowned universities and professors across the world. Most of the start-ups have realized the growing need of personalized learning experience of students, and have started exploring this space.

The quality of manpower is a significant resource for large populous countries such as India, which depend on them for their rapid economic growth. Realizing the potential and opportunities in the education sector, the start-up space in this segment has seen much action off late. Almost one third of these companies have yearly revenue in the range of Rs.5 lakh to Rs.1 crore and one fourth of these companies have revenue of more than Rs.1 crore per year. Investment communities are also very enthusiastic about EdTech start-ups. According to VCCEdge, the education sector has seen the rise of investment in recent years. In 2010, the total investment in EdTech was valued at $187M for 27 companies which rose to $248M for 48 companies in 2014 and in 2015, the 51 deals were signed in EdTech investment valued at $155M. The taxonomy that one can use to analyse the education space is whether (i) delivery of course content is synchronous or asynchronous and (ii) tests, assignments and other methods of assessments and discussions happen synchronously or asynchronously. While the traditional class rooms are synchronous in both, the Learning Management Systems such as Moodle assist synchronous class room delivery with assignments and quizzes that could be digitally posted to be done asynchronously.

On the other hand, the Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC) such as Coursera, edX and Udacity massified the reach of online education through asynchronous delivery of lectures from well-renowned universities and professors across the world. However, even after five years, these online platforms are figuring out ways to closely monitor and track the asynchronous conduct of assessments and exams. However, new platforms that use the philosophy of “flipped classroom” are beginning to appear in the horizon. In this mode, the lectures are given asynchronously using video and other multimedia while the quizzes, doubt clearing sessions and discussions do take place synchronously assisted by technology and by instructors and moderators. The flipped classroom model allows the participants to come together and engage collectively in discussions and problem solving. This collaborative method of assessment is very different from the traditional methods being practiced. Through technologies, the flipped class room model (i)allows constructive and collaborative learning (ii) provides rich multimedia based course content to be learnt at own space asynchronously in a personalized way. Communication technologies such as Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC) enable peer-to-peer video based discussion sessions between students and instructors or amongst students to be set up with much ease. The granularity of data collected by the platforms enable deep analytics to be performed to provide personalization of content. With improved mobile broadband and increased cost of commute for synchronous face-to-face sessions, the flipped class room model provides an interesting alternative. Most of the start-ups have realized the growing need of personalized learning experience of students, and have started exploring this space. Hence, as in MOOC, thought and technology leadership is required to massify the flipped classroom model.

The use of the above technologies is echoed by the Edustars survey that notes that 61% of Indian companies have built mobile and tablet apps in education space; 54% of these companies use cloud for their offerings and 32 per of them use video technology for learning solutions. Though there is big boom in EdTech start-ups with the ever growing usage of online learning, the education system is yet to experience the game changing effect that we all have been eagerly waiting to happen. While the technology is expected to disrupt education with online courses reducing costs of content and creating equal access opportunities to students around the world with improvement in adaptive learning, the education sector still has to experience a radical difference. There still remains unemployed and underemployed graduates who pay high tuition fees that coexists with poor completion rates. It is time that we ramp up to adopt disruptive models such as flipped classroom to bring a revolution of some sorts to the critical field of education.  –  V. Sridhar is professor at IIIT-Bangalore and Krunal Sagan is cofounder, Epecate. Courtesy

PositiveShift launches digital platform ‘UNO Learn’ to offer skill development courses

Edureka – One of the most effective Ed-Tech portals with live instructor-led classrooms online

Business Insider India | Anushree Singh | Oct 6, 2016  |

Instructor-led live online courses with 24×7 on demand support

Who would have really thought that an education company which started off from a soccer field of an engineering college in Ghaziabad will become one of the most effective Ed-Tech portals bringing the concept of live classrooms online.  Edureka’s journey so far has been a rather unique one. Founded by two ex-Infosysians and IIT alumni – Lovleen Bhatia and Kapil Tyagi – in 2012, this live instructor-led online education company is extremely different from the free and pre-recorded videos of MOOCs. Here, you will get 24×7 experts help support and free access to upgraded content for lifetime.  In 3 years, the 1.5 cr-bootstrapped firm has developed into a 30-cr company generating a 2768% revenue. It is offering online courses for not only mid and senior level professionals, organizations but also freshers in the tech and business domains.

Unlike a video based pre-recorded course, Edureka claims it has interactive online classes, where you can interact with the instructor and get your doubts cleared immediately. That means that any time you are stuck with something, help is always around. The class comprises multiple people from across the world and a subject matter expert who is an instructor.  With over 85 live courses on big data, cloud computing, languages, mobile development, among others, Edureka is also doing what competitors are aiming for – helping professionals improve their skills with industry-relevant insights targeted at supporting career growth.  This model has enabled Edureka to register 30% & 20% MoM growth in India and overseas markets respectively and reach break-even in the second year itself.  Competitors, watch out! This one is here to stay. –  Courtesy

Click here to visit  :  http://www.edureka.co/

Udacity’s self-driving car engineering degree lures over 11,000 hopefuls

Reuters | By Alexandria Sage and Paul Lienert | SAN FRANCISCO |

Silicon Valley online education platform Udacity has already received more than 11,000 applicants for its so-called nanodegree in self-driving car engineering, Udacity president and Google X founder Sebastian Thrun said. The high number of applicants – for 250 spots in the course – underscores the pressing need for talent by technology leaders such as Alphabet’s Google and Apple, traditional car companies and automotive start-ups, as they race to develop production-ready autonomous-driving vehicles within the next decade.  High-profile, costly acquisitions driven by the desire to acquire talent, such as General Motors Co’s purchase of automotive start-up Cruise, or Uber Technologies buying self-driving trucking start-up Otto, have marked the sector over the past year. “Self-driving car engineers are extremely in demand,” Thrun told Reuters in an interview. “The acquisition landscape is a very good way to measure the desperation. Desperation is the wrong word. But the same urgency and desire, particularly with our partners, companies like Mercedes — they really are looking for talent.” Udacity’s nanodegree course, which costs $2,400 for three 12-week terms, begins in October. Its curriculum was developed with contributions from automaker Mercedes-Benz, chip maker Nvidia Corp and self-driving truck startup Otto, now part of Uber.  The average salary of a self-driving car engineer is $138,000, according to Paysa.com, which studies market salaries.

Udacity is hoping to reach and train international talent who cannot access a degree from prestigious U.S. universities with top-notch engineering and robotics departments such as M.I.T., Carnegie Mellon and Stanford.  General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra said Thursday at a conference in Detroit that after GM acquired self-driving car startup Cruise Automation, the company saw a 20 percent increase in the number of people applying to work at the company.  Qualified software engineers are in short supply in Silicon Valley and beyond, given the breadth of companies trying to build up their software-based autonomous driving programs, whether Ford Motor Co or start-ups like Drive.ai or Zoox.  In just one day, applications for the Udacity nanodegree program jumped by 1,000, Thrun said, adding that many applicants are already working as software engineers: “It’s their dream to work in Silicon Valley.”  Students who make the cut for the self-driving car program will learn to write the code necessary to allow a Lincoln sedan to drive itself.  Thrun said his ambitious goal for the program is to complete the car project within six months. (Writing By Alexandria Sage; Editing by Joe White and Alan Crosby)  –  Courtesy

Centre’s SWAYAM initiative delayed repeatedly

The Asian Age | |  New Delhi |

Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiative and push to promote Internet-based learning, the Union human resource development ministry’s plan to launch its massive open online courses (MOOC) platform “Swayam” has been delayed repeatedly.  Government sources said that Swayam’s launch was repeately delayed because the ministry wanted to ensure smooth functionality. The Swayam platform proposes to host over 2,000 courses for approximately 3 crore students across the country.  It is understood that the latest launch date of August 15 was postponed because preparations were ongoing to get the entire system ready for the ambitious project. Sources said that once the platform was made operational at the optimum level, the launch will likely be made by the Prime Minister.

“The preparations for the project are on in full swing. The project has the capacity to revolutionise the education system by providing easy access to educational information,” sources stated. Swayam is a platform which will host MOOCs and provide high-quality education on various subjects, covering all disciplines, to students at levels ranging from school-level to under-graduate and post-graduate. Through this scheme, the HRD ministry has proposed that it could provide high-quality e-content to colleges and universities free of cost. The government hopes to support 10 lakh concurrent users anytime, anywhere, through this network, and Microsoft has been roped in as the technology partner for the venture.  Swayam seeks to provide over 2.5 lakh hours of interactive e-content in MOOC format, which would make it the world’s biggest repository of interactive electronic learning resources under a single window.  The University Grants Commission (UGC) has already notified the UGC (credit framework for online learning courses through SWAYAM) Regulation 2016, which allows for the transfer of credits earned through these courses into the academic record of the student in the parent institution. –  Courtesy

Learn to create mobile apps with free online course from IIT Madras

HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times  | New Delhi |  Aug 05, 2016 |

Build an app in 5 weeks! Free for anyone, anywhere Certificate of completion offered by IIT Madras

From booking a cab to buying groceries from the comfort of your home, mobile applications have become an integral part of our everyday lives. Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) is offering an opportunity to all those with basic programming skills to learn app development in just five weeks. The institute will start a free online course on Introduction to Modern Application Development (IMAD), from September 5, 2016, which will be open to all. The website also has resources required to learn or to brush up required programming basics. Besides being free for everyone, anywhere, the course strives for the right balance between theory and practice by focusing on building an application quickly while also ensuring that it never breaks. Short 20-minute course videos will be available on YouTube and can be at watched anytime. You can take the course even from the comfort of your home. The course will have graded assignments, and a final test to help one remain focused through the course.

The course will be broken into five modules:

Module (i) will give you an introduction to the Internet, and its common network protocols

Module (ii) You get to build a basic but complete web application

Module (iii) Learn the how and why of modelling data for your application using databases

Module (iv) Learn about performance and how to ensure security for an application

Module (v) will teach you how to build your own mobile application.

The course will be conducted by Dr Gaurav Raina, faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering at IIT Madras, and also a visiting research fellow in the Statistical Laboratory at Cambridge University along with Tanmai Gopal, chief technology officer and co-founder of Hasura, a core technology startup. He is also an alumnus of IIT Madras from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Talking about the motivation of the instructors for giving such a course, Professor Raina says,“Our larger objective is to get the youth excited about technology, and about building solutions for both local and global problems. The course will teach students some of the technology skills that are integral to the modern digital economy”.  Gopal added, “In this new space of application/web development almost everyone is self-taught because the technical underpinnings are not taught anywhere, and universities are yet to catch up. Our motivation is to address this gap. In the true spirit of education, we want to address the hardest challenges that people face in this field – getting started on a solid foundation”. This course will help in developing skills crucial to someone wanting to develop apps and get started on their own. It is aimed at equipping one with the ingredients to get started with an idea. There is also the tangible benefit of internships at some of the top tech startups/companies in India such as ChargeBee, CloudCherry Analytics, PickYourTrail, SolverMinds, USP Studios, and Playfiks who have tied up to provide interview opportunities to students who complete the course. In addition, an examination (optional) will be conducted on completion of the course and on successfully clearing it, one can obtain a certification from IIT Madras. –  Courtesy   /      http://www.imad.tech/

NPTEL- IMAD —-> Click here to register