Anant Agarwal in his address titled “Why massive open online courses still matter“, talks about the importance of online courses. As the President of edX, a partnership between Harvard and MIT that offers free online courses he cites the following as the CORE of online learning:
1. Active learning: Online platforms enable active learning amongst all stakeholders, be it students, teachers, peers or colleagues. This is because these platforms encourage one on one interaction that has rendered to be fruitful for all those who want to learn.
2. Self pacing: is seen to be easier in online models of learning because students have the option of rewinding lectures. In addition, they can reach out to experts in the field, at any given time from the convenience of sitting at home. Moreover, they can listen to difficult concepts over and over again, not worrying about taking down notes, like they have to in a traditional classroom.
3. Instant Feedback: Teachers ins schools/universities typically take their sweet time grading papers and providing feedback. With online teaching, feedback ca be given right then eliminating the stress that students go through in waiting to hear about their performance.
4. Gamification: According to Mr, Agarwal “using computing power has enabled edX and other such initiatives to establish online labortaories”. The direct benefit of these for students comes in the form of interactive software that they can use to learn subject matter, discuss problems and help others. These online laboratories emulate other forms of interactive software’s that are widely used by the target audience, for instance gaming websites etc. They’re familiarity with such mediums has enabled them to adopt and enjoy learning through these softwares.
5. Pure Learning: Discussions held in a traditional classroom are an effective and efficient way of learning from one another and amplify each student’s thoughts while also clarifying misunderstood concepts. Having said that, the adoption of online discussion forums augments “pure learning” even more because it enables a student to reach out to multiple sources to solve an answer, have their answers validated faster and have a multitude of perspectives on a query by default of so many people being online. Having looked at the core principles that edX and other online teaching initiatives are building upon, it is safe to conclude that they have used rudimentary principles of traditional classrooms to build online teaching. Consequently, this has resulted in an exponential adoption of learning online. I wish edX and other initiatives the very best, by continuing to enable thousands of kids learn anything, anywhere and at any time.
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