April 25, 2013

Coursera Enthusiasts

It's interesting to look at the Coursera communities around the world. Here are the Top 10 cities on the list.
They are: 1) Stanford, 2) New York, 3) London, 4) Bangalore, 5) San Francisco, 6) Moscow, 7) Athens, 8) Toronto, 9) Washington, DC, 10) Mumbai.
What to make of this list? No wonder four American cities are in the list. Multi-cultural London is there. A bit odd to see Moscow there but not Beijing or Shanghai or Hong Kong. Good to see Bangalore (or is it Bangaluru?) and Mumbai (and not Bombay!) on the list. Athens is probably the biggest 'surprise' presence here.
The next are: 11) to 15): Kyyiv, Chicago, Vanderbilt, Barcelona, Sao Paulo; 16) to 20): Hong Kong, Delhi, Singapore, Los Angeles, Boston, and Madrid.
The next 11 are: St. Petersburg, Seattle, Melbourne, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Sydney, Paris, Philadelphia, Beijing, and Bogota.

As Indians, we are familiar with the names of Indian cities. But I am amused to think that folks around the world looking at the list would be wondering what these cities are or where they are located ... I don't think for a moment that people in Europe or the U.S. or elsewhere would be quite familiar with names such as Pune, Chennai, or Hyderabad.
Let’s look at the possible size of the “market” for Coursera in India. What’s the age group of students? 15 to 25 seems about right. There are roughly 150 million people in India in that age group. Assume half of them “drop out” of the educational system because of financial reasons. That still leaves 75 million youngsters. Even if two-thirds of those millions were curious to learn, should not there be 50 million Coursera participants from India? The fact that there are not seems to be a grave fault of Indian society. The leaders, the seniors, the mentors, the educators and teachers … all of them should be prodding and pushing and exhorting the learners to partake of the free knowledge on offer from Coursera. Or any of the other MOOCs.
P.S. I wonder if "savvy" educational entrepreneurs in India will "catch on" to the fact that Coursera, EdX, and other MOOCs are the "NEXT BIG THING" in education. Then, instead of building all those mushrooming engineering and MBA institutions with third-rate teachers or all those "coaching centers" for everything from IIT JEE to IIM CAT to Bank P.O. and Class VII to Class XII CBSE/ICSE to BA, BCom, BSc, the entrepreneurs might start "coaching classes" to help language-poor Indian students do well in these Coursera courses.
I mean, that would probably not be what the Coursera institutional participants would have intended, but then who can predict what canny folks from the land of the 'jugaad' (aka India) can come up with!

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