Are Pakistani universities doing enough to embrace MOOCs?

Letter May 11, 2017
Advent of MOOCs is bringing about a revolution in teaching and learning methods

LAHORE: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are a course of study offered over the internet which is free and has a very large number of participants. The advent of MOOCs is bringing about a revolution in teaching and learning methods. Using current online courses, anyone from anywhere in the world can learn anything even from Nobel laureates.

Completing a course earns you a credential and numerous American universities have begun to accept MOOCs for credit. In fact, in partnership with Coursera, the University of Illinois has been offering the first open online MBA degree—iMBA. This trend of integrating MOOC learning with the traditional education is now thriving and institutions have been discovering ways to develop the MOOC system.

In the same way, Malaysia has become the first country in the world to develop a national policy on credit transfer for MOOCs. The Indian University Grants Commission has issued guidelines for its MOOC platform, which would unite Indian higher education, both online and offline. Furthermore, the Gazette of India has guaranteed credit mobility for MOOCs as, “No university shall refuse any student for credit mobility for the courses earned through MOOCs.”

Institutions like Latif Ebrahim Jamal National Science Information Center, Allama Iqbal Open University and Virtual University have taken initiatives for implementation of online courses in Pakistan. Low literacy rate, lack of infrastructure and digital divide hinder the implementation of MOOCs in Pakistan. However, using online courses, VU and AIOU can provide Pakistani youth quality education.

Like India, Pakistan is also half a century late in achieving its universal education goals. Regardless of their advantages, a small number of people from developing countries like Pakistan access MOOCs. Since the chief hurdle has been the availability of adequate numbers of highly qualified faculty, the skill-set of educators can be enhanced using online education. Pakistan launched LEJ Knowledge Hub in 2013 and it is first in the world to have incorporated courses from various sources for instant accessibility.

Dr Sajid Iqbal

Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2017.

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