15 Jul 2016 12:55 IST

Open online course providers upbeat as enrolments jump

Technology, computer science courses popular among Indian learners

The Indian geek’s love for computers has made global Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) providers very happy with platforms such as Coursera, edX and Udacity witnessing surge in users here.

Anant Agarwal, CEO, edX, said, “Over the last year, edX has seen 96 per cent growth in its Indian learner base. India makes up 11 per cent of the edX learner base overall.”

Distance learning

A MOOC is a free Web-based distance learning program that is designed for the participation of large numbers of geographically-dispersed students. The government too has announced launching MOOCs in India.

India is second to the US, which accounts for 27 per cent of the edX learner base. The number of Indian learners on edX in July 2016 was 8,83,400. For Coursera too, India, with 1.5 million registered users, is the second largest market, after the US which has 4.8 million users.

Kabir Chadha, India Country Manager, Coursera, told BusinessLine, “We have seen a spike of 70 per cent in new registrations over the past 12 months. This depicts a shift in perception about online courses.”

Technology and computer science courses register more than half of all the enrolments in India with Computer Science and Data Science leading the pack at 25 per cent and 18 per cent respectively, Chadha said.

“Apart from technology, business analytics and digital marketing courses are also quite popular among Indian learners,” he added.

Clarissa Shen, V-P International and Managing Director, Asia, Udacity, said, “We have about 27,000 students per month learning online. The Android courses are very popular here. India is our second largest market overall but if we look at just the Android courses, India is our number one market. Interestingly, a high growth area has been courses on machine learning and artificial intelligence.”

Since MOOCs work on Internet and penetration continues to be a challenge in India, providers are tweaking apps to tackle the issue.

Agarwal said, “At edX, we are expanding our mobile app capability so anyone with a mobile phone can download course videos and watch them whenever they want to, even without an Internet connection. We are also exploring synergistic partnerships with institutions like NIIT, who provide on the ground, in-person assistance to learners.”

Coursera’s engineers are also tweaking the app to ensure it functions on lower bandwidth, Chadha added.

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