MOOCs are Massive Open Online Courses that has a far-reaching impact on the way education is being rendered today. It offers free online courses that cover a wide range of topics and vocation. The MOOC education system intends to bring about a massive change in education; targeting all levels of higher education, vocational & corporate training. In this digital age, the development of educational delivery pattern of such nature is not very surprising. However, what’s surprising is its openness. Through MOOC, anyone irrespective of his/her location can get free access to high quality educational material offered by the best educational establishments in the world via the web.
In last couple of years a lot is written and spoken about the wonders of MOOC. It is being regarded as revolution of a sort that aims to bring forth “equal opportunity” in the “educational spectrum”. However, a critical analysis of MOOC leaves us to wonder its sustainability in so-called “developing nations”. Within a span of just few years, MOOC has attracted a very large student community and over one million registrations bears testimony to the fact. Coursera, one of the largest MOOC players offers over 200 courses in economics, business, computer, science, music, health and social sciences. The educational portal has also joined hands with some of the coveted Universities in the world namely Harvard, Stanford, Toronto, Edinburgh, Melbourne etc. This proves that MOOC has indeed created a favorable environment for those who cannot afford entry into these prestigious Universities.
Despite high registration of aspirants in such courses, only 6% of them actually finish the course. Having said that, MOOC is an excellent way to encourage higher education in developing nations where students cannot afford quality education or training. However, it needs to be packaged in a way which is both practical and sustainable. To begin with, the IT infrastructure in developing nations of Africa, India and Brazil has improved by manifolds. Students, teachers are slowly embracing the online pattern of education. Even government is funding several e-learning projects, along with overwhelming private interventions. In fact, India, Nigeria, South Africa and Vietnam are two countries that are attracting international educational enterprise to set up their digital learning products. Secondly, the rate of penetration of MOOC in developing nations such as India and Brazil stands at 8.8% and 5.1% respectively. It is higher if compared to UK and Canada which closed at 4.4% and 3.6% respectively. These reading indicate that MOOC can be a desirable educational option for students if it meets certain set of requirements.
This brings us to discussion of what behavior in terms of internet usage, the young population of these countries exhibit. In last couple of years, the worldwide shipment of PC has declined. One major reason for this is the advancement made in the realm of Smartphone and tablet technology. According to the recent report submitted by the IDC, International Data Corporation, an American market research and analysis firm has predicted that there will be 227.4 million units of tablet shipment in 2013 alone, a steep rise by 57.7% from last year. A corresponding result also shows that by 2014 nearly 69% of internet access in Africa will be via Smartphone or tablets. At the same time, India, Brazil and Russia are likely to showcase similar trends. In India nearly 143.2 million users access internet through mobile data and laptops, of which 50% are from the age group of 18-24 years.
To a large degree the success of MOOC in developing nations largely rests on content deployment on tablets. Tablets are light weight and can easily be carried around. Content material can easily be accessed on downloaded on the device and students can go through it whenever convenient. Due to the presence of wide range of good but affordable tablets in the market, the adoption of these devices in education is far- reaching. Apart from a shift in content deployment mechanism other factors that will influence the growth of MOOC in developing nations are cheap and distributed internet access and encouraging students to actually complete the course and lot leave mid-way.