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"24 per cent of learners in India are women"

"24 per cent of learners in India are women"

Of the 20 million users of its massive open online courses (MOOCs), 1.6 million are Indians. Sonal Khetarpal talks to Julia Stiglitz, VP, Coursera, the world's largest online learning provider. Excerpts:

Julia Stiglitz, VP, Coursera Julia Stiglitz, VP, Coursera

Of the 20 million users of its massive open online courses (MOOCs), 1.6 million are Indians. Sonal Khetarpal talks to Julia Stiglitz, VP, Coursera, the world's largest online learning provider. Excerpts:

In the MOOCs space, how does the Indian market differ from more developed nations such as the US?

The average age of people taking the courses in India is younger, unlike in the US. We have a lot of learners who have just finished college and are in the early stages of their career. Another difference is that Indians take up courses that help them with their career, whereas in the US people use online learning platforms for enrichment courses on poetry, culture and such. Based on this, we have started partnering with corporates such as Axis Bank to help their employees with skill building and creating a culture of learning in the workplace.

What are the changes brought in to the course modules over time?

Earlier, there were modules that were 60 weeks long; now the duration of courses has been reduced to four weeks. This change is necessary as people pursue online courses on the sidelines of their full-time job or college. Also, for ease of use, it is important that all the videos are mobile-friendly so users can access the content from their phones on the go.

How keen are women learners to pursue MOOCs in India?

24 per cent of learners in India are women, and that number can really grow. What is interesting is that the top three courses women take are Computer Science, Business and Data Science - no different from the top course categories in India. In fact, women feel a sudden rise in their confidence after taking MOOCs. One of the learners Gauri Jha, a mother of two kids, turned to Coursera to overcome boredom and inactivity. She took a few courses such as 'Learning How to Learn' and 'How to Write a Scientific Paper', and was able to submit a research paper related to Bioinformatics to an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) recognised journal. She now aspires to do a PhD.