“Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man” – Swami Vivekananda .
Interestingly most of us today view that education is merely the delivery of knowledge, skills and information from teachers to students , And to attain this skill we have forced ourselves and our children to go the best possible schools and colleges and have paid a huge amount as fees . With the steep increase of joblessness across various countries, we need to question ourselves if we and our next generations are getting the correct education , is it self sufficient , is it helping us to define our goals , helping us to identify our gaps , in Swami Vivekananda’s word “Is Education helping us to manifest our perfection ?”
One of the main challenges in delivering quality education is the huge cost factor , there is infrastructure cost, teachers cost and course materials cost. Good news is that this is all about to change , Thanks to the sudden boom in the Free Online Education System and the birth of the Open Education movement we are going witnessing a huge focus on inclusive education. When Salman Khan , of Khan Academy started creating few courseware for his cousins who would have imagined that that will result in 3,200 video lessons, crossing 168 million views as of today. When I started my Probabilistic Graphical Model course in Coursera and Technology Entrepreneurship course in Venture Lab , little did I imagine that I am part of the half a million student across the globe registered for this. Today we have Academic Earth, Open Courseware Consortium,Open Culture, all promoting free Education . Hats off to Sebastian Thrun for founding Udacity . Today we have a growing list of universities, like M.I.T., Harvard and Stanford, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, all coming together to provide this free education. Prof Daphne Koller, Prof Gautam Kaul are now a more popular name then they were few months back.
Coursera is one of many organizations offering online educational courses after entering into partnerships with various universities across the world to offer courses to their students. These courses are based primarily on online video lectures and instructional videos. Students attending the partner universities have the option of receiving a certificate and university credit for taking part in the courses. This agreement has been an exciting development in the world of online education.
However critics may argue what is the use of this? Will this replace schools and education system prevalent for decades? The answer to this is “No”, while schools and college cannot be substituted, what this will help is that it will mainly increase the accessibility of the education system. Online education gives you the opportunity of studying at your own pace and time and pause and review and replay if things are not clear for you. Also you have the option of setting up your own study groups at your locality and clarify doubts and progress on removing your knowledge gaps through online discussion forum. Obviously appropriate checks have to be made to make sure that the quality is not compromised in delivering Online Education and the contents are improved regularly.
While we see world education market forecasted to grow exponentially, with India alone to grow to USD 40 billion in next 5 years, Free Online education will act as a catalyst in this revolution. We hope that we can improve the process of cognitive cartography, mapping one’s experiences and finding a variety of reliable routes to optimal states of mind when one find oneself in non-optimal state of mind. To put in simpler words, this will help us to achieve our true goals and aspirations by selecting our own needs and identifying our own gaps to progress – which is the very essence of Universal education.