The Union Cabinet recently approved of the signing of a Joint Declaration of Intent between Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) & United States wherein the US universities would be invited to offer online courses with certification in various disciplines on SWAYAM (Student Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds).
Aptly named ‘Swayam’, a Hindi word which means ‘on one’s own’, the portal is India’s Massive Online Open Courseware (MOOC) platform. Apart from hosting their courseware online, US universities would also provide certificate upon successful completion of the course. MOOCs are generally free courses and where the learner requires a certificate, a small fee may be charged. MOOCs aid in self-learning and are already popular in United States where some of the top-ranking universities such as Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offer MOOCs; these courses allow students who are not able to afford a college education or those who do not have the time to physically attend college, to take various courses online instead.
In early September, it was announced that Swayam would be launched on 25th September; in the first phase, IIT Bombay, IIT Madras, IIT Guwahati, universities of Delhi, Manipur, Punjab and Banaras Hindu University are expected to offer courses in engineering, social science, energy, management, basic sciences by taking the aid of faculty in foreign universities.
Swayam is an initiative of the Government to promote technology-driven higher education. Some of the other initiatives in this field include a National E-library platform: an online portal where top quality content from NCERT, CBSE, IITs, IIMs and other central universities would be hosted.
Under its University Network Initiative to Enhance Education (UNITE) programme, the Ministry would also work towards making 20 classrooms in 21 000 colleges wi-fi enabled and 6000 universities fully wi-fi enabled.