UGC nod for online courses opens new avenues for teachers, students

Institutions can offer up to 40% of courses in a particular programme online/

In the past year, ever since COVID-19 restrictions came into force, the universities and colleges have been keeping students engaged through online classes. Although the teaching learning assessment has to be critically evaluated, the change may be here to stay.

Late last month, the University Grants Commission issued a notice that institutions could offer up to 40% of courses in a particular programme in a semester through the online learning platforms such as Swayam. At the same time, the Consortium for Educational Communication signed an agreement with the University of Madras to develop multimedia course content.

Senior academicians say the pandemic had opened new avenues that the National Education Policy had envisaged. “The UGC advisory is in tune with the NEP in its attempt to raise the standards of online education programmes. But it may be in a phased manner,” said S.P. Thyagarajan, Chancellor of Avinashilingam University.

The UGC guidelines cannot be directly adopted by universities which were governed by statutory bodies, he said. The benefit was that the students would have access to talented teachers from across the country, he said.

Universities have to strengthen their infrastructure, e-resources and its faculty before launching online programmes.

The UGC’s recommendation would at best give avenue for the first stage of activity, he said. “We will have to take the stakeholders’ feedback, including teacher and student fraternity and critically evaluate the outcome of the quality of these programmes,” Prof. Thyagarajan said.

University Grants Commission’s former Vice-Chairman H. Devaraj flagged the issue of quality. “In an online class, who will monitor the students or the quality of the courses,” he asked.

Even in programmes offered under National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) by the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M), less than 8% of those who enrol completed the course, he said.

The data provided by the IIT-M, which has developed over 2,000 courses by talented teachers, is a pointer. Under the MOOCs format, the IIT-M offered 2,467 courses in the last seven years and 1.24 crore candidates had enrolled. About 11.24 lakh learners have registered for the exams so far.

Of the 16.8 lakh enrolments for the current semester, 2.4 lakh learners have registered for in-person proctored exams, said Prathap Haridoss, faculty coordinator, NPTEL.

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