UGC recognising the need to widen the access to higher education through technology has released the Credit Framework for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) by establishing a indigenous platform of learning, named as SWAYAM (Study Web of Active Learning by Young and Aspiring Minds) and also prescribed regulatory mechanism to allow seamless connect between the online learning and the regular class room learning.
The Regulations, shall facilitate transfer of credits of such students who are enrolled as regular/part-time students in any educational institution in India through ‘Four quadrant approach’, wherein the
Quadrant-I is e-Tutorial: that shall contain: Video and Audio Content in an organised form, Animation, Simulations, Virtual Labs,
Quadrant-II is e-Content: that shall contain: PDF/e-Books/illustration, video demonstrations, documents and Interactive simulations wherever required. •
Quadrant-III is Web Resources: that shall contain: Related Links, Open Content on Internet, Case Studies, An ecdotalin formation, Historical development of the subject, Articles and
Quadrant-IV is Self-Assessment : that shall contain: MCQ, Problems, Quizzes, Assignments andsolutions, Discussion forum topics and setting up the FAQ, Clarifications on general misconceptions.
The ‘National MOOCs Coordinator’ (NMC) a Nation level agency designated under the Regulations, for coordinating the production of the online courses and for overseeing their quality shall identify the Institutions, which desire to offer online courses in the forthcoming semester on SWAYAM Platform. The Institution keeping in view their academic requirements, decide upon the courses, which it shall permit for credit transfer.
However, there are some limitations on an Institution offering course on SWAYAM Platform. The Institution has to show that there is non-availability of suitable teaching staff for running a particular course in the Institution or the facilities for offering the elective papers (courses), sought for by the students are not on offer in the Institution, but are available on the SWAYAM platform and also that the courses offered on SWAYAM would supplement the teaching-learning process in the Institution. In any case, the Institution has to ensure that the physical facilities like Laboratories, computer facilities, library etc, essential for pursuing the courses shall be made available free and in adequate measure by the parent institution. The parent institution must also designate a course coordinator/facilitator to guide the students throughout the course and to facilitate/conduct the Lab/Practical sessions/examinations.
Every student, aspiring to have credit transfer through MOOC Courses, would be required to register for the MOOCs for that course/paper. Their performance would be evaluated by a host institution and the PI shall be responsible for evaluating the students registered for the MOOCs course launched by him/her. The evaluation should be based on predefined norms and parameters and shall be based on a comprehensive evaluation throughout the length and breadth of course based on specified instruments like discussions, forums, quizzes, assignments, sessional examinations and final examination.
The Regulation, though paves route for online learning, but surprisingly it leaves discretion with the PI to decide on the mode of conducting the final examination, which may also be pen and paper method.
After conduct of the examination and completion of the evaluation, the PI through the host institution shall award marks/grade as per the evaluation scheme and communicate to the students and parent institution, which shall incorporate the marks/grade obtained by the student, in the marks sheet of the student that counts for final award of the degree with the proviso that the programs in which Lab/Practical Component is involved, the parent institution will evaluate the students for the practical/Lab component and accordingly incorporate these marks/grade in the overall marks/grade.
The parent Institution shall give the equivalent credit weightage to the students for the credits earned through online learning courses through SWAYAM platform in the credit plan of the program for the purpose of credit mobility.
UGC has also asked the Universities to amend their Ordinances, Rules, Regulations etc., to incorporate provisions of these Regulations for the purpose of seamless Integration of MOOCs and also has warned them from refusing any student for credit mobility for the courses earned through MOOCs.
UGC shall notify a Standing committee to resolve any issues that may arise in the implementation of these regulations during the transition period of three years.
No doubt it is a good start! and a great leap for wider access to higher education.
But, I think the slowly the “centralized” system of e-learning has to give way for independent online hosting of courses also.
Today there is no regulation in the country, which empowers an Institution to conduct online learning. The proposed Distance Education Council of India Bill makes provision for the same. It is required that regulation should be in place obviously with prescribed standards to allow Institutions to conduct online course, and not just enabling credit transfer.