Monday, 12 August 2013

Understanding students problem in higher education

As a part of understanding problems student face in India, we visit many educational institutions. And here is the list of top 7 problems students face:-
1)      Students are taught by sub standard teachers and professors: - Professors and teachers in tier 1, 2 and 3 cities educational institutes don’t have required knowledge level and fail to motivate students for learning. Majority of the teachers and professors are those who were not able to make it to the corporate world. Otherwise why they will not take a job that will pay them twice or thrice of what they are getting for teaching. Here I am not talking about premier institutions like IIT/IIM etc(though there also you will find professors who fail to motivate students).
2)      Students are discouraged to ask questions:- I was interacting with one of the students and what he told me that when I ask a question out of curiosity, teachers tell me to just read books and concentrate on giving exams and getting good marks. There is no place for questions/doubts.
3)      Practical knowledge is missing: -
 It’s a well know fact that students don’t take practical classes/labs. Most of them don’t feel like attend them and few of them who want to learn are felt on their own.
4)      The way they are assessed doesn’t enable them to be thinker
You need to cram the thinks. Exams or any kind of assessment should force the learner to think beyond the obvious.
5)      Peer level learning is missing
When you concentrate on just getting good marks where is no opportunity left for peer learning?  When you teach, you become better learner. Classroom time can be utilized to solve problems and case studies through peer interaction and teacher guidance. But its wasted in explaining theory which in anyway student can get books. High time for flipped classrooms!
6)      They are referred sub standard books
Universities and colleges refer books written by local teachers which are nowhere near to deliver quality knowledge. Don’t you agree that books are the type of MOOC’s students gets exposed to? Good books are even rarely referring in the curriculum published by universities.
7)      Fail to deliver learning to learn
Because of all the above reasons, students fail to learn the skill of learning. Though major part of the responsibility to learn the skill is at the student end, but giving students directions, mentoring and enough push to learn the things on their own is missing.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

What is MOOC all about

  For all those who still don’t know what MOOC is, it’s basically a new way to deliver education to students and working professionals. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course, where main educational contents are delivered primarily through videos.  Learners (Students and Working Professionals) also learn through discussing their doubts or understandings with the peers in discussion forums. Their learning is analyzed through assignments and Quizzes. And all this is for free. 

Though MOOC started way back in 2003, the first successful MOOC was conducted by Sebastian Thrun(a Stanford university professor) and Peter Norvig in Artificial intelligence attended by 160,000 students across the world. He is now CEO and co-founder of Udacity ( which offers number of courses online in MOOC model.


Now personally I have also attended number of such courses at Udacity, Edx and Coursera.  The content which is provided is really good. But the fact is I am also out of those 90% people who don’t complete the course. If you don’t know, many of the MOOC offering websites are struggling with a very low course completion rate of 10%(as per them). Why such a low rate of completion, because many times those who are attending the course doesn’t have an immediate need of the course. From India, I guess people who attend these training are mainly working professionals and students studying in premier institutes like IIT or IIM’s.

Still I feel technology has finally started impacting eduction in a positive way. And if we can motivate/push students to attend these courses, it will be far better than the time spent on FaceBook.

Here is the list of main providers of MOOC 
a) – provided by BlackBoard who provides popular LMS software

b) – started by Havard and MIT

c) – started by Stanford university

d) - Started by Sebastian Thrun

And at last started by me and Vikas