Government online learning platform SWAYAM has set up a plethora of free online courses to do its bit for the learners' community as schools and universities shut down amid the COVID 19 lockdown.
The two-and-a-half year old platform has created a repository of 1,900 courses available for students as they grapple with the global pandemic. Students are also lapping it up. The courses across different streams that were made available last Friday (March 20) have already got 19,000 hits, says Parameswaran N, Advisor, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India.
Made available under the tab 'Let Covid-19 not stop your learning', the courses are divided across five broad areas: engineering, non-engineering, NCERT textbooks, secondary and senior secondary courses and e-books for school students. It also has resources on areas such as robotics, programming under the National Mission on Education through ICT.
"What is surprising to us is we are getting interest from 63 countries. While more than 90 per cent of traffic is from India, we are seeing traffic from countries like the US, Germany, UAE, Canada, Netherlands," says Parameswaran N.
He says the traffic on the site has also increased by three times in the last few weeks.
There is no need to register for these courses but students can just click and start looking at videos, assignments or read e-books. As many universities and schools are closed and students can sit at home and learn new concepts or revise the content using these courses that correspond with their curriculum.
Usually courses on SWAYAM are time-bound and run as per semesters but due to the current situation, these 1,900 courses are accessible throughout.
"Online education is the need of the hour and has picked up out of sheer necessity. Since all of this content was already available, we are making it public and people are also using it," says Parameswaran N.
In response to the COVID 19 impact on educational institutions, Coursera too announced free access of its catalogue to impacted universities and colleges through the 'Coursera for Campus' platform. This will give universities and colleges access to more than 3,800 courses and 400 specialisations on Coursera. "In just two weeks 900 higher education institutions have reached out to us and 300 have signed up for the online courses for their students," says Raghav Gupta, Managing Director, India and APAC, Coursera. He adds, "What we are seeing is akin to what we witnessed during the Y2K crisis that compelled institutions to upgrade their technical infrastructure."
The rising demand from students only shows the need for education institutions to build their technical infrastructure to offer the new ways of digital learning.