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Future of Online Education 30 August, 2012

Dr. Jey Kesavan Veerasamy, Director of CS UT Design Program & Teaching Faculty, Department of Computer Science, Erik Jonsson School, UT Dallas, interacted with universities on 30th August 2012 via A-VIEW about Future of Online Education as part of National Weekly Interaction Program.

Future of Online Education

How MBA fits in for online education

Dr. Veerasamy pointed out that MBA could become a popular choice for online education as it does not really have many complex equations like core engineering or science subjects. Also, MBA is chosen by hard working employees for distance education who want to keep their job and still earn an extra degree for career advancement.

Typical audience for online education

A student who chooses to learn via online means should be a highly motivated individual. In the US, working people, military personnel, mothers with young babies and students from rural places constitute the highest number of online students.

Nature of online programs

Participation is a very important part of online courses. Unlike traditional physical classes which may have up to 70 – 80 students, online classes are quite smaller with about 15 – 20 participants per class, where students could interact well with each other. Here, the teacher is more of a facilitator who moderates discussion among the students. Following regular classes, students should participate in online discussion forums. For best results, students should post original thoughts which would further fuel the discussions. Also unlike traditional courses, online courses are much shorter and more intense to keep students interested and motivated.

Where is online education headed?

We could expect a lot of multimedia lectures in the future complementing real-time lectures. One of the biggest challenges in online education would be to address plagiarism in assignments as web search would give students readymade answers to popular textbook questions. So, teachers should take care in framing unique thought inducing questions for which each student should come up with her own ideas.

In the future, even traditional programs may put up online lectures for the sake of students as they could review the lectures at home and come to class for a discussion heavy session. A lot of detail oriented courses may start becoming online and if it becomes more affordable, more people would opt for online courses.

"This requires a lot of change in mindset that some students may never get ready to online education," Dr. Veerasamy added.

About 15 universities including IIT Madras, Indian Naval Academy and IIIT Hyderabad attended the session.

A-VIEW is an E-Learning platform, developed by Amrita University's E-Learning Research Lab, which is a state-of-the-art software for distance education and collaboration. It is available for free to all the educational institutes across India, and can be downloaded from the website address, www.aview.in or by sending an email to aview@amrita.edu.