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Open Courseware: A New Era in Global Education

How do you like the idea of learning fundamentals of computer science from an MIT professor and studying basics of philosophy from a Harvard professor? That too at free of cost. Out of the world experience, it should be.

Advent of e-learning technologies and passion of educationists and premier institutions gave birth to a new age revolution called – open courseware movement, where the courses of the best professors from best of the global educational institutions are being offered online for free of cost and they are open for students from any part of the globe.

Khan Academy, an online teaching project mooted by Salman Kahn, a US-based investment banker turned educationist, created sensation with the kind of response garnered from the schoolchildren across the world. Similarly, edX, a joint open courseware project between Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has shown the world how massive the benefits could be if the information and communication technologies are rightly utilized for improvement of quality of education.

A project called edX has been mooted by these institutions, which is offering quite a lot of courses online for absolutely free of cost. Students can also get a “Certificate of Mastery” upon successful completion of the course from these institutions, which is held in high regard by the universities and employers.

Larger Trend
Though few names such as Kahn Academy and edX have caught up the imagination of the world, there are quite a few other players making strides in the area of open or free courseware. Udacity, another project that is analogous to edX, which was an outgrowth of free computer science classes offered by two faculties of the Stanford University in 2011, is another project that exemplifies this larger trend. The number of such initiatives as well as the subject they are covering is only northbound these days.
This trend also has connections with India since its inception, for accidental reasons though. Salman Khan, the founder of the Khan Academy was born to a Bangladeshi father and Indian mother. This was one of the reasons for immediate popularity of Khan Academy in India and South Asia.
Besides the cultural connection, two important initiatives by Indian premier institutions - Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and IITs - provided the impetus for Indian efforts on open courseware movement. The first initiative is - National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), the joint project of seven IITs and the IISc, which is offering courses on a wide variety of subjects at free of cost. Secondly, The IIT Bombay’s recent partnership with edX to offer the courses through the latter’s online platform has augmented the role of the country in the open courseware movement.

Egalitarian Impact
The open courseware is now popularly known as Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). The MOOC aimed at massive knowledge transfer at global level without involving any cost for students. The open courseware is pitched directly against the quality education issues across the developing world and they have great potential to eliminate economic barriers, which have been preventing effective education.
As of now, different employers and universities are recognising the course certificates. Indeed, the certificate holders are enjoying superior recognition in the job market. Some universities are also started according the “credited course” status to these courses. The trend hasn’t caught up in India yet. Indian universities seem to be unaware of the importance of these courses.
To optimize the potential of these programmes, universities need to give them credited course status so that students can pursue them as part of their regular programmes. This makes sense economically for both students as well as the educational institutions.

Important Portals
The following are the some of the very important global open courseware initiatives that have relevance in Indian students and academia -

Khan Academy
Khan Academy is highly popular among schoolchildren with its easily digestible 10-minute teaching videos on a wide range of subjects. The academy was born out of the efforts of Salman Khan, who then was as investment banker, to teach mathematics to the children of his friends and relatives by using simple online tools.
He quit his job as the requests for his teaching videos increased and developed his portal into a full-fledged online academy. Now, the academy hosts thousands of video lessons, materials and resources on a range of subjects such as mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, economics and humanities subjects at free of cost.
Its tutorial videos enjoy a high reputation among school students and elders across the world. Kahn Academy is the site that should be visited for those who are keen on learning or teaching basics.

Admission Process -
To access the courses, you can sign in with an e-mail account and proceed to learn section, which contains aspects like Math, Science and Economics, Humanities, Test Preparation, Partner Content, Talks and Interviews etc.
To browse the courses, please visit –

National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), an initiative by seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras and Roorkee) and IISc for creating course contents in engineering and science provides E-learning through online Web and Video courses in Engineering, Science and humanities streams.
The mission of NPTEL is to enhance the quality of engineering education in the country by providing free online courseware. The online video tutorials are available free of cost to the individuals. The colleges and universities can subscribe for special package, which allow the colleges to maintain an online library of the NPTEL courses, which in turn could be used by the respective college students. As of now, more than 710 engineering colleges and government departments have subscribed for the package.

Following are the courses available in NPTEL portal:
  • Aerospace Engineering (48)
  • Atmospheric Science (6)
  • Automobile Engineering (2)
  • Basic courses (Sem 1 and 2) (36)
  • Biotechnology (33)
  • Chemical Engineering (90)
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry (56)
  • Civil Engineering (130)
  • Computer Science and Engineering (92)
  • Electrical Engineering (75)
  • Electronics & Communication Engineering (95)
  • Engineering Design (12)
  • Environmental Science (5)
  • General (5)
  • Humanities and Social Sciences (69)
  • Management (46)
  • Mathematics (73)
  • Mechanical Engineering (158)
  • Metallurgy and Material Science (55)
  • Mining Engineering (2)
  • Nanotechnology (11)
  • Ocean Engineering (29)
  • Physics (72)
  • Textile Engineering (28)
Admission Process
Individuals can access free and easy downloads of video tutorials from NPTEL website or obtain DVDs for Rs. 200 per course title. (30 to 45 lectures) + Postage.
To watch the video, flash version 9.0 or greater is required. To download you should have broadband connectivity and browsers like Firefox, IE 7 onwards, Safari etc.
For more detailsClick Here

EdX Project
EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise designed by Harvard University and the MIT specifically for interactive study via the web. EdX offers the MOOCs and interactive online classes in subjects including law, history, science, engineering, business, social sciences, computer science, public health, and artificial intelligence, among others.
The IIT Bombay has recently entered into the pact to offer its courses through edX platform. The edX course certificates have received overwhelming response by employers and universities.
Student can study the edX courses in two ways. They can enroll for the courses, submit assignments, write tests and get the “Certificate of Mastery” or they simply can audit the courses by following the course videos, which are available on

Admission Process
There is no formal admission procedure for edX courses. Students can pursue these either by registration or by auditing. Those who register for the courses will be eligible to submit homework assignments, write tests and they will be awarded “Certificate of Mastery”. Those who do not require the certificate can simply audit the course by going through the course videos.
For more detailsClick Here is another important source for open courseware for students at college and university levels. Coursera is an education company that partners with the top universities and organizations in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free of cost.
The portal presently offers courses in a wide range of topics, spanning the Humanities, Medicine, Biology, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Business, Computer Science, and many others.

Admission Process
To access the courses you need to sign up with and email account and proceed to courses section and select the course you want to take.
To access courses Click Here

Udacity is a fantastic source of online courses for computer science, mathematics, physics, psychology and business at Beginner, Intermediate and advanced levels. This project was born out of a Stanford University experiment in which two of its faculty Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig offered their "Introduction to Artificial Intelligence" course online free of cost.
So far, over 160,000 students in more than 190 countries enrolled for Udacity courses. Now, the portal offers high-quality classes online affordable and accessible for students across the globe.

Admission Process
To access the courses you need to sign up with an email account and proceed to course catalog and select the course you want to take.
For course details Click Here

Founded in 2010, Udemy is an online learning website that allows instructors to host courses, both paid and free courses. It is not a fully free of cost portals. The course fee is left up to the instructor and, however, there are some free courses available.
Students can take courses across a breadth of categories, including business and entrepreneurship, academics, the arts, health and fitness, language, music, and technology, among others.

Admission Process
For free courses, you can select the course of your choice and sign up to proceed further. For paid courses you need to pay the amount prescribed for the course to have access to it.
To browse coursesClick Here

LearnStreet is an online portal that offers free courses on coding for people of all backgrounds. The website offers beginner level courses for Ruby, Python, and JavaScript and projects and teacher programs to practice what was learned. The variety of beginner to advanced projects from LearnStreet enhances your skills in building coding projects like games, tools and algorithms.

Admission Process
You can access the beginner courses directly by clicking the courses section on the home page and get access to the seven lessons of Java Script, nine lessons of Phython and 12 lessons of Ruby. Along with the lessons, you have exercises for each part of the lesson.
To access the practice sections and teacher programs you need to sign in with and email account.
For more details Click Here

Tufts OpenCourseWare
The Tufts OpenCourseWare (OCW) project is a free online Tufts University courses to educators, students, and self-learners throughout the global community. Tufts OpenCourseWare is part of a new educational movement initiated by MIT that provides free access to course content for everyone online.

Admission process
The courses can be accessed free in the form of text, which includes various issues like syllabus, projects, student work, learning units and supplementary material.
For more details Click Here

MRUniversity online education platform
MRUniversity is an online education website run by Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok economics professors at George Mason University includes free-to-watch videos, interactive comments, and the option of actively enrolling and participating in courses. The videos are structured as simple PowerPoint slide presentations with voice-overs by the speakers. The audio can also be downloaded separately.

Admission Process
You can get access to the videos and course materials with or without registering to the site. Those who formally register for a course and take the final examination can get a certificate of completion.
For more details Click Here

MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW)
MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of materials used in the teaching of almost all of MIT's subjects available on the Web, free of charge. With more than 2,000 courses, OCW is open and available to everyone and a visitor base of 125 million according to site statistics provided by them. The courses contain features like Video/Audio Lectures, student work, lecture notes, assessments, online textbook etc.

Admission Process
By clicking on the courses section in the home page of the website, the student can access courses by topic, MIT course number or department. Cross-disciplinary courses and translated courses are also available in the section.
For more details Click Here

Open.Michigan online educational resources
Open.Michigan is a University of Michigan online educational resources portal that enables faculty, students, and others to share with the global learning community. The portal offers openly licensed content and does not grant degrees or certificates. The website features academic content created by the University of Michigan community that faculty and student can use in their own research, teaching or learning experiences.

Admission Process
By clicking on the Find section in the homepage of the website, the student can access a range of course materials, videos, software tools, student work etc and download and remix the openly licensed educational resources (OER).
For more details Click Here
Published date : 16 Jul 2013 03:25PM