Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), an autonomous and not-for-profit institute, set up in 1983.To pursue its mission, EDII has helped set up twelve state-level exclusive entrepreneurship development centers and institutes. One of the satisfying achievements, however, was taking entrepreneurship to a large number of schools, colleges, science and technology institutions and management schools in several states by including entrepreneurship inputs in their curricula.
The technological advancements since last couple of decades have brought about a significant shift in the way crucial services are offered world over. Be it healthcare or financial services, or education, the cutting-edge technology has made it possible for people to take advantage of services, both physically and virtually. In the education space, Massive Open Online Courses, popularly known as MOOCs, have revolutionized the concept of higher education across the globe by offering boundless possibilities. The concept of MOOC is based on the premise of using technology, as an interface and means for 'distance' learning to a number of students. However, in the last few years, the technology has expanded to mobile apps as well, providing the comfort of learning to learners who are always on the move.
"MOOCs have come to the fore as an alternative for both classroom instruction and traditional models of learning"
After more than a decade of its introduction in 2008, the concept of MOOCs is now entering its second phase of growth. The first phase witnessed many challenges such as higher drop-out, lower than expected acceptance in the industry, quality of courseware and a plethora of spurious ventures that impacted legitimate service providers. However, the second phase has been diligent in its approach and is focusing on course quality and industry involvement to ensure those who graduate from these courses are worthy of being absorbed in the industry, thereby creating a win-win situation. This mechanism of instilling demand-based skills will also help in bringing down joblessness in sectors that have high student pass-out, but lower absorption in industry.
MOOCs have come to the fore as an alternative for both classroom instruction and traditional models of learning. MOOCs don't require students to sit in a classroom at a fixed time; students can take MOOCs when and where they want. They allow students to efficiently and inexpensively select the content and activities that interest them, providing them with flexibility. These features stand in stark contrast to traditional courses, where students are expected to attend local lectures, complete all assignments, and attain a passing grade.
Government of India, known for its digital initiatives in the last few years have also come out with Study Webs of Active - Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) under the Ministry of Human Resource Development. Launched in July 2017, world's largest e-learning platform, SWAYAM is designed to achieve the three cardinal principles of Education Policy viz., Access, Equity and Quality by covering School/Vocational, Under-Graduate, Post Graduate, Engineering and Other Professional Courses. Apart from online learning, Government also has single largest online platform 'Startup India' that helps start-ups and entrepreneurs connect with tens of thousands of other start-ups as well as key stakeholders such as investors, mentors, and incubators.
The evolution of MOOCs has opened an opportunity of self-learning for those who are unable to attend classes on campus. The constant changes that are impacting work culture and industry have made it almost mandatory for the employees to keep themselves updated and acquire new skills to stay relevant in their respective professions. Apart from the employees, the employers too are required to hone their skills as they have to survive amidst competition which challenges their growth and development. The segment that is impacted the most by continuously changing business environment is micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). These enterprises have the highest risk of survival since they compete with bigger counterparts, who have the wherewithal to withstand business challenges. MOOCs are seen as a boon by entrepreneurs of these enterprises as online learning provides them the desired flexibility to learn the right skills and techniques without being too concerned about their regular business.
MOOC can be availed not only for learning a specific skill set but also for purposes such as professional certification and inculcating strategic thinking abilities and improve the production & brand value of the company. This explains the share of the corporate sector on almost every MOOC platform, which biggest. It acts as a cost-effective learning platform to enhance the overall ability of employees and the organization.
One may wonder that MOOCs would be the biggest challenge for academic institutes that are churning graduates in huge numbers every year. However, it is not the case. In fact, MOOCs have provided these institutes an opportunity to take their expertise and learning to a wider audience beyond their established space. Most of the academic institutions in technical or management field have started offering online courses to students outside campus. MOOCs have given them a window to optimally utilize their academic resources, thereby reducing their average cost. And not surprisingly, most of the students of these courses of academic institutes are family business entrepreneurs willing to upscale their learning, domain of expertise and diversify or grow their business.
This concept of online learning has not only been proved beneficial to existing entrepreneurs, but also 'wannapreneurs' who are joining the bandwagon of online learners to start-up their own ventures. Right from Harvard University to a University in the neighborhood, online entrepreneurship courses are a hit as they teach 'wannapreneurs' on how to conceptualize the idea, create a plan and even preparing an elevator pitch to get venture capital funding. Courses ranging from couple of weeks to few months claim that they provide these aspiring entrepreneurs basic understanding of running a business in a structured way. The survival of entrepreneurs in the market that constantly challenges businesses is dependent on critical components such as fiscal discipline and businessman's acumen to successfully manoeuver their firm through challenging times.
Online courses that offer or assist entrepreneurs in dealing with financial issues or help in designing a strategy to come out of the crisis are much sought after and hence instantly favored. The best part about MOOCs is these courses are looked after from knowledge and skilling perspective more so and not from the degree or certificate perspective. As far as aspiring entrepreneurs are concerned, MOOCs also offer an opportunity to connect with mentors and practitioners who can share their success story and experience, which is necessary for them to learn and emulate.
Globally, entrepreneurship differs by way of success ratio. The ecosystem that drives the entrepreneurship in any country determines the country's sustainable growth trajectory. Since education is the most critical pillar of any ecosystem, it is important for the academicians to view entrepreneurship from the perspective of those who have failed. This means the focus of entrepreneurship education should also be on how to avoid failures, not only on how to get success. MOOCs offering entrepreneurship needs to deliberate on this and accordingly design their curriculum. As the entrepreneurship center in Stanford's School of Engineering, the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) is a lab that creates and delivers courses to students and offers extracurricular programs to the Stanford community, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with Learning Management System (LMS) and Content Management System (CMS) Modules.
The increasing competition between various MOOC platforms is in a way good for aspiring entrepreneurs; the question, however, will be what kind of differentiation will they offer and how will they attract these 'wannapreneurs'. The continuously changing employment dynamics together with rapidly transforming education is definitely going to change the way both will be perceived going forward. Technology, however, is going to be a key matrix for any segment world-over and entrepreneurs dare not to forget its significance.