Canberra, May 2 ANI | 6 months ago

Australia's leading university is offering the world's first bilingual Hindi-English Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in a further sign of Australia's closer engagement with India.


The 10-week course, Engaging India, which started on Tuesday 29 April is a partnership between The Australian National University in Canberra and the global MOOC provider edX, which was founded by American universities Harvard and MIT.

MOOCs are free courses, open to anyone around the world and delivered online. Engaging India already has 10,000 enrolments - roughly the size of the ANU student population.

"India is more than Bollywood and cricket, the Taj Mahal and yoga. It is a vibrant, many-sided nation, with a rich history that is undergoing massive change and reasserting itself on the world stage," said course co-convenor Dr McComas Taylor.

The course is a new example of Australia's growing links with India.

As a result of the ANU course, edX has made Hindi its third official language, allowing Indian partners such as IIT Bombay to offer global on-line courses in Hindi.

India is Australia's fourth largest export market, with more than A$16 billion Australian dollar in two-way trade. More than 285,000 students from India have studied in Australia since 2003, and India remains one of the largest sources of foreign students in Australian universities.

Around 10,000 Australians currently live in India, while around 450,000 Australians are of Indian origin.

The course has caught the attention of edX CEO and founder Anant Agarwal, who was born in India and is now based in the United States.

"MOOCs are highly important to the future of education," he said in a video interview at ANU.

"For more than 500 to 600 years, since the invention of the textbook, there has been no major innovation in India in terms of education," he said.

"MOOCs bring online learning to teaching and that can bring about great improvement in education. They truly democratise education," he added.

Dr Taylor says India is one of the world's most complex and dynamic nations.

"By learning about India in both Hindi and in English, the experience becomes that much richer and authentic - you feel, breath and live India, which is a country that leaves you permanently changed once you experience it," he said.

Dr Peter Friedlander, who has been teaching and researching on India since 1989, said that the course will provide a rich overview of contemporary India and its place on the world stage.

"This course won't only appeal to people outside India, but also people in India and the Indian diaspora all over the world," Dr Friedlander said.

"It brings together a huge range of experts from a broad set of fields to examine issues in contemporary India, ranging from technology, history, politics, language, media and economics.

"There will be plenty of opportunities for students to interact with experts in this course. Students will be able to talk with people teaching the course, and with each other. I can say quite literally they will be able to engage with India."

(Posted on 03-05-2014)

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