Massive Open Online Courses for professional development for teachers of higher education. An Indian perspective

Academic Paper, 2021

13 Pages, Grade: A


Table of content




Types of MOOCS

MOOCs in India

Research methodology

Teachers’ opinion findings

Discussion and conclusion



The main aim of the present paper is to explore the importance and contribution of MOOCs for the professional development of teachers in higher education institutes. MOOCs are online courses for anyone with internet access. A qualitative research has been conducted to find out the opinion of teachers. At present MOOCs are popular in higher education institutes particularly in engineering and management. In general, teachers’ attitude towards MOOCs is positive. MOOCs can be used for teachers who need: additional insights into topic of their choice, to update their skills, to expand their knowledge and to learn innovatory and current trends in teaching-learning. MOOCs require some more momentum in the form of teachers’ awareness, credit recognition, etc. In the future, there will be high demand for MOOCS for professional development, since professionals can continue their services, apart from updating their skills. Thus, MOOCs can be incorporated gradually in a step-by-step manner to cope with the current trends of teachers’ professional development along with the updated rules and regulations.

Key words: MOOCs, professional development, continuing education, higher education


MOOCs are one of the most debated, constantly and continuously evolving e-learning topics with regards to application in practice, research and development (Koutsodimou & Jimoyiannis, 2015). Several educationists’ focus is towards MOOCS throughout the world for obvious reasons. As a result, research and development is also evolving continuously.

Due to the development of the current society, continuous professional development of teachers is an imperative for every educational system. Nowadays MOOCs are on hype for educational systems, being one of the most discussed and debated university/academia/higher education topics (Malita et. al., 2018). Since the demand for skilled work-force, particularly in teaching field is increasing, MOOCs provide a ready solution.

With the reform of learning science and the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the traditional mode of teacher professional development is confronted with challenge, and the new emerging MOOC system provides a new path for teacher professional development. The MOOC system is an effective tool for teacher career development, since teacher’s professional reasons, teacher’s needs, and the cost of promotion (Ji & Cao, 2016). Teachers can continue their professional services along with courses provided through MOOCs at their own place and pace without additional cost. Thus, MOOCs provide the required atmosphere to the professionals.

Teacher Professional Development (TPD) has become a major policy priority within education systems worldwide. But keeping teachers professionally up-to-date and providing them professional development opportunities on continuing basis is a big challenge. MOOCs can be a cost and resource effective means to complement the traditional methods of professional development of teachers (Misra, 2018). MOOCs are cost and resource effective because, it can reach anyone and everyone with internet access. Until and unless teachers are updated with the current skills and knowledge, knowledge cannot be disseminated to the learning community.

The application of MOOC system to teacher professional development, however, is still in the trial stage (Ji & Cao, 2016). Though MOOCs application is in infant stage, it is growing continuously.

Research on the use of MOOCs for teacher professional development (TPD) and the characteristics of their participants is scarce (Castaño-Muñoz, 2018). In recent years, the research gained momentum in several parts of the world including India.

Objectives of the present study were to:

- Find out the importance of MOOCs for professional development and
- Investigate the MOOCs contributions for teachers’ professional development


“MOOCs are open online courses that are designed to be accessed by many of the teachers through internet” (Mahmood & Bibi, 2017).

MOOCs are online courses with no other prequalifying requirements except Internet access. (Castaño-Muñoz, 2018).

MOOCs are a new model of learning that develops on the virtual course – long offered by way of online and distance learning efforts within educational institutions – without course fee, irrespective of place and individual (Ecclestone, 2013).

Thus, MOOCs are a new model open online courses meant for everyone with internet access and without fee and entrance requirements.

Types of MOOCS

A majority of the authors classified MOOCs into two types (Fig. 1).

Siemens (2013) classified MOOCs into two types: cMOOC and xMOOC. The cMOOC focuses on settings and takes after the Connectivism method with courses with respect to organizing. The cMOOC exercises focused around the member and on his link with others in the scan for data and information. The contents of the course are shared among all members and the educator guides, leads and enables the figuring out how to process. xMOOCs are extensions of traditional online courses.

Whereas, cMOOCs stress is on the association between some members, offering require to the sharing of resources among each member; xMOOCs depend on the carrying of contents, mainly via video lessons, where the teacher expects a more significant part (Mahmood & Bibi, 2017).

Several kinds of sub types of MOOCs are possible. It needs to be focused on each one of the stages, attention of types of MOOCs is around content or on settings, on the quantity of members (from hundreds to thousands) and on the related procedure (synchronous or no concurrent) (Mahmood & Bibi, 2017).


Classification based on

(content, quantity of members and procedure) MOOCS

cMOOCs xMOOCs - association between the 2 members - conveyance of contents

-sharing of resources lessons
- connectivism approach - extension of traditional online courses
- fixated on settings

Fig.1: Types of MOOCs, own computation

MOOCs in India

With a view to provide access to the best quality learning resources across the country, the project ‘Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring’ (SWAYAM) has been started. SWAYAM offers platform for courses from high school to various higher education subjects and skills through ICT. SWAYAM involves development of MOOCs compliant e-content (video and text) and building a robust IT platform. Under NMEICT (National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology), NPTEL (National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning) (a group of 7 IITs and IISc) developed e-content in 23 Disciplines numbering 933 Courses. CEC (Consortium for Educational Communication) has so far completed the development of e-content in 29 Undergraduate subjects and shall further be completing e-content in 58 Subjects in four quadrants. Along with the UGC, several other institutions are engaged in development of e-content (MHRD, 2015).

Recently IIT-B has collaborated with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard to launch Massive Open Online courses (MOOCs) through its websites to all interested students for free (Umesh, 2017).

India after US is dominating the global growth in enrolments. India has started several projects for providing MOOC courses to enable the educational needs. Currently, NPTEL, mooKIT, IITBX, and SWAYAM are the platforms used in India for offering courses (Chauhan, 2017). This is true with a majority of the engineering colleges and is having a center to cater the needs of students and teachers.

Since SWAYAM supports the blended learning where after learning from the online courses the learner will also go to their college/institute. The learner will experience face-to-face learning along with the online learning (Chauhan, 2017). Teachers benefit to have the advantages of online and face-to-face courses. Private teachers are to be encouraged to attend face-to-face learning by granting paid leave.

Indian MOOCs can make way for smooth implementation of Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) in undergraduate courses. One of the leading MOOCs platforms has 10.5 million enrolled students. Indian MOOCs may also have subject topics that have not been explored yet, such as Classical Indian Music, Indian History, Yoga, etc. (Malik, 2015). Certain Indian languages, tribal languages, tribal arts and dances that are not available to masses are to be introduced for the practice of interested learners.

Research methodology

About 96 teachers are interviewed to find out the opinion of their usage of online courses. Results have been analysed qualitatively. Interviews are conducted through face-to-face and online questionnaires from the teachers of higher education from arts, science, engineering and management. They are from different parts of India.

Teachers’ opinion findings

Teachers in the higher education are aware of the courses from SWAYAM, since a majority of the colleges have a center for NPTEL. Whereas, Malita et. al.’s (2018) study indicate that a large part of the sample to know very little or nothing about MOOCs.

Some teachers are doing ARPIT in SWAYAM. Some are planning to do after completing the present course from SWAYAM. Some recommend online courses for teachers and students. Some teachers are doing NPTEL courses, e-PG patashala, SWAYAM, etc. They are interested in self-taught courses and enjoyed the freedom of learning.

MOOCs can be used for teachers who need:

- additional insights into topic of their choice
- to update their skills
- to expand their knowledge and
- to learn innovatory and current trends in teaching-learning

In the present study, some teachers have completed MOOCs. Some of the teachers have registered in the MOOCs courses; they could not complete them because of the following reasons: unable to meet the deadlines, some of the assignments are accessible only on the personal computer, teachers’ busy work schedule at the time of assignment submission, etc.

In the present study, teachers’ attitude towards MOOCs is positive. Teachers, who learned through MOOCs, are able to apply the skills in their classrooms. They were satisfied of their participation and had a positive impact to their professional development. The findings of an empirical study of Koutsodimou and Jimoyiannis (2015) post-course investigation indicated that the MOOC presented helped teachers to acquire the knowledge and skills to integrate Web tools in their classroom. The majority of the teachers attending MOOC were satisfied of their participation and the important course design and implementation issues, and they had a beneficial effect to their professional growth. The results of the study of Mahmood and Bibi ( 2017) revealed that MOOCs has an important role in the teachers’ professional development and training through MOOCs provide a chance to easily implement the training in the classroom.


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Massive Open Online Courses for professional development for teachers of higher education. An Indian perspective
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MOOCs, professional development, continuing education, higher education
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Dr. Pratibha Mallu (Author), 2021, Massive Open Online Courses for professional development for teachers of higher education. An Indian perspective, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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