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NIIT latches onto edX to resurrect 1980s magic

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NIIT Ltd, a skills and talent development Indian MNC having over 300 training delivery centres across India, has after four years of persuasion and negotiations, finally succeeded in inking an alliance with globally acclaimed edX, the MOOCs education platform that offers online courses from world’s top 100 institutions free of cost across the globe. In a first, edX course programs will be administered by NIIT in India through a blended learning model where NIIT resources persons at its centres will become facilitators, tutors and mentors. Those enrolling for courses will receive certification as per edX policy from the respective institution in addition to an addition certificate by the NIIT, which will also assist the successful trainees in finding jobs. The courses lasting 3-4 weeks of 8-10 hrs a week suited for upskilling/ new skills, will be priced just below Rs 10,000. The partnership was announced by Rajendra Pawar, Chairman NIIT and Anant Agarwal, CEO edX and MIT Professor at a press conference in New Delhi on May 12.

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While edX, which has a record seven lakh student enrolment form India is looking at reaching 10 times more people here, NIIT, which has just recovered from a loss last year wants to encash skilling rush and of course create industry ready talent, which if hired can pull the business where in next five years it would train about 5 million people.
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, “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”. 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. So there is significant scope for improvement which this initiative is targeting with its unique Blended Learning model.
Anant Agarwal, CEO edX and MIT Professor, said, “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.”

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