NIIT & edX partner to redefine online education to boost future-ready talent

NIIT LogoedX - LogoNIIT, a global leader in skills and talent development, and edX, the non-profit global leader in online learning co-founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), entered into a strategic partnership to redefine the online education space in India. Through this partnership NIIT and edX aim to create high-impact learning experiences for  learners  by offering a next generation Blended Learning MOOC model that provides an engaging and live interactive experience that goes much beyond the core MOOC content. The partnership was announced by Rajendra Pawar, Chairman NIIT and Anant Agarwal, CEO edX and MIT Professor at a press conference in the capital today.

edX and NIIT pioneers in their respective domains, have a track record of offering the best education & training experiences to their learners across the globe. Over the last 15 years, NIIT has continuously invested in its Blended Learning delivery capability through innovations such as its Imperia Synchronous Learning delivery model and its Cloud CampusTM with student-centric learning enablers. Under this partnership the live synchronous delivery capability and on-ground student servicing capability of NIIT will be combined with the world class MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) provided by edX and its university partners to offer futuristic talent development programs to learners in India.

To start with, programs aligned to the changing future-skill-sets requirement of the industry in areas like Programming using Python from MIT, HTML5 from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Data Science & Analytics from Columbia University, and Data Science & Engineering with Spark from University of California, Berkeley will be offered jointly by NIIT and edX. These could be availed by students at college, recent graduates or working professionals looking to upskill themselves.

Additionally, many organizations in India are also looking at integrating MOOC offerings in their overall talent development plans to bring in range and flexibility while promising to lower costs of upskilling employees. Select pilot courses would be made available to organizations looking at MOOCs for upskilling. NIIT will work closely with industry bodies such as NASSCOM and the member organizations to add value to the learning development initiatives.

Rajendra Pawar, Chairman, NIIT, said, “As a pioneer in the use of technology in education, NIIT has been at the forefront of technological & pedagogical innovations in learning. With the Indian education system moving fast towards online learning, MOOCs is a great way to bridge the quality, affordability and accessibility gap in education. It gives us great pleasure to join hands with edX, one of the leading providers of MOOCs, to transform the talent development space in India by introducing the next-level of MOOC-based learning that delivers superior outcomes & higher completion rates”.

“NIIT and edX offer an unmatched, world-leading combination to learners in India”, added Mr Pawar.

Despite the popularity of MOOCs, recent studies have found that completion rates of the programs are low with some reported to be significantly lower than 10%. The low retention and completion rates are major concerns for educators and institutions. Only 5% of enrolled students complete a free MOOC. Even MOOC courses with paid verified certification options see completion rates of only 60% or higher. So there is significant scope for improvement which this initiative is targeting with its unique Blended Learning model.

The alliance between NIIT and edX will bring the best of eLearning and instructor-led education to the students. For select courses, NIIT & edX will offer a pre-configured course that includes the MOOC, blended services from NIIT, and the certification exam from the Institutional partner. Thus the students will be able to earn a Verified Certificate from the concerned Institute.

Anant Agarwal, CEO edX and MIT Professor, said, “At edX, we take our mission of increasing global access to high-quality education seriously. We connect learners to the best universities and institutions from around the world. India has always been a focus for us, especially with the government’s emphasis on Digitalization and Upskilling. With this strategic tie-up, edX will offer a tremendous opportunity to learners to access high-quality education, with a blend of Instructor led education by NIIT. We’re proud to partner with a pioneering organization such as NIIT, and support its mission of providing quality training & know-how to a wide spectrum of learners.”

Since edX began in 2012, India has consistently remained the platform’s second largest learner base, underscoring the strong need for high-quality education in India and the enthusiasm of Indian learners. edX works to increase access to high-quality education from the world’s best institutions and universities and has partnered with Indian universities IIT Bombay, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, and Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) Pilani. edX currently has more than 730,000 Indian learners, and has witnessed great momentum with 96% growth in its Indian learner base over the last year. With strong regional university partners, an engaged learner base and a CEO with strong ties to India, edX has a deep commitment to the region.

The NASSCOM Perspective 2025: Shaping the Digital Revolution has clearly identified the need to build people capabilities. Moving towards Digital will require addressing the re-skilling needs of over 3.5 million IT Professionals as well as the needs of over 230,000 fresh entrants each year. Given the relentless change in technology, training can no longer be viewed as discrete events. Instead there is a need to institutionalize lifelong learning – and individuals & society that leverage online learning can get a competitive edge. NASSCOM envisages a massive re-skilling program to train and re-skill 4-5 million people over the next 10 years. Clearly this immense task cannot be accomplished through traditional training models alone. This new initiative from NIIT and edX will open up more avenues for individuals & organization to meet their learning needs.

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