Last week’s Mint newspaper featured an interview with Anant Agarwal, President of EdX. EdX is a joint venture of the MIT and Harvard University, it provides Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) which is essentially redefining how education is going to be imparted in future. Currently it has more than a million students enrolled on its website. It was founded in May 2012 with an initial investment of $60 million and did I tell you that its completely free!

MOOCs are various online courses that takes in huge mass of students from all across the globe. They offer courses from Justice, Technology, Statistics, Psychology, Mathematics, Engineering, Art, History….and on and on! They are launched by many of the elite institutions across the world like Stanford, MIT, Harvard, University of Toronto, University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, and many more are joining them. The materials contain video lectures, readings, quizzes and assignments. But the best are the student forums, where one can interact with students from all across the backgrounds and world.

I am a big fan of MOOCs and have completed a few and currently taking several courses. For a typical course the enrollments cross about 50,000. When I log into the website of Coursera I go hay wire, like how typical women goes hysteric during the Summer SALE. I feel I am only limited by my own curiosity and imagination. Since childhood I was fascinated by Brain, for the first time I pursued even though so late in life an interest that I had put in cold storage. No prerequisites, no entrance exams, the equation is between you and what you want to learn  and how much you want to learn.

Like this I have completed a writing course, almost finishing a course on public speaking (you might think how does that work in an online scenario, well it check out!). Just begun taking a course of History of Mankind, Modern and Post Modern writing, Understanding Beethoven, and will soon start many others in the coming months.

Again did I tell you this is for free!

Coursera is one such company which was founded by computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller from Stanford University. It was founded in 2012 and has currently about 4 million users. It partners with several institutions across the world who use their open source platform to provide their courses. They started with 5 partners last year and currently they have about 83 partners world wide.

I recently came across Student Learning Network wherein students are responsible to generate the content and they share what seems is valuable to them. They organise their research contents, academic resources and also share with a larger community of students. This is mainly for science and engineering based learning.

Government of India too is getting into this arena and has set up a collaborative venture called The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL). It is funded by the Ministry of Human Resources Development and in association with 7 IITs and IISc Bangalore. They have developed video contents and courses accessible via the web primarily focusing on enhancing the quality of engineering education. Approximately 600 courses are available as of now through the IIT Channel in Youtube.

Edx, Coursera, Udacity, Udemy, Khan Academy and many like them are knocking down the campus walls. The world of education is becoming flat! The philosophy is pretty much learn anything, anywhere, almost for free. The world is changing and so is our perspective about it. How we interact and learn in a society that is unfolding at every beat is only to be seen.