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L to R: Prof. Ram Takwale, Prof. Asha Kanwar, President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning, Dr. Anil Kakodkar, the eminent nuclear scientist and Chairman, Rajiv Gandhi Science and Technology Commission, Maharashtra, Prof. K.V. Powar, Vice-Chancellor, DY Patil University and Dr. Vivek Sawant, Managing Director, MKCL at the unveiling of the Param Interversity logo on November 18.

MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses are one of the mega trends sweeping the world of education globally.  In India, an ambitious MOOCs initiative, the Param Intervarsity was launched at the Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Ltd, Pune, on November 18 in the presence of some eminent personalities. On the occasion, eminent educationist and Maharashtra Knowledge Foundation’s Chief Mentor Prof. Ram Takwale  presented the vision and plan of action for this initiative.

The New York Times called 2012 The Year of the MOOCs after taking note of the massive interest shown by leading universities, thousands of students and private enterprises in the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)  revolution.

The newspaper noted that while edX- a non-profit start-up from Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology  had an enrollment of 370,000 students for its first official course last year, Coursera, established a year earlier, logged an enrolment of more than 1.7 million students for its courses.

Unlike traditional online courses which charge tuition, offer credits and have a fixed number of seats to enable students’ interaction with instructors, MOOC is free, does not offer credits and can be availed of by anyone with an Internet connection.

Param Intervarsity
On November 18, an ambitious MOOCs initiative, the Param Intervarsity was launched at the Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Ltd. (MKCL) in the presence of Dr. Anil Kakodkar, the eminent nuclear scientist and Chairman, Rajiv Gandhi Science and Technology Commission, Maharashtra; Prof. Asha Kanwar, President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver, Canada and Dr. Vijay Bhatkar, computer scientist and architect of India's forays into supercomputing.

Presenting the vision of Param, Prof. Ram Takwale, President, I-CONSENT (Indian Consortium for Educational Transformation) and chief mentor, Maharashtra Knowledge Foundation noted that Information Communication Technology (ICT) has changed the global picture of connecting and communicating with anyone, anytime, anywhere (A3). "The A3 connectedness", Prof. Takwale noted, "has now created two spaces for everyone- cyber space and real space" offering global reach and local real existence to each one.

While ICT has tele-connected over 95% of the global population (6.5 billion), in India, one billion people have been tele-connected and 115 million internet-connected. By 2020, nearly 80% of the Indian population is projected to be internet-connected with personalized access through mobile cell phones and tablet PCs.

This technological advancement could revolutionize life and education in various ways, one being the spread of MOOCs and the creation of e-platforms for MOOCs and Meta Universities.

MOOCs & New Education
As Prof. Takwale explained, Param Intervarsity is a platform for establishing Meta or Param University with its infrastructure entirely in cyber space. Its study centers would be located in colleges, university departments and other learning places for offering personalized and situated learning support to students.

The objective would be to offer New Education, a innovative education form which follows the basic principles and approaches of Mahatma Gandhi’s Nai Talim and educationist JP Naik’s Role Based Learning and Performing.

Prof. Takwale explained that New Education enables a student to use knowledge to learn by playing multiple roles in life and work areas of applications of their liking, talents and aspirations. In this life-and-work-centric education, a student would certainly like to develop his/her personality, expertise and vocational and professional career. The goal of the new education would be to find one’s OWN ROLE, life-long Learning and Development Paths, and become a Change Maker to create future for self and society.

Param Intervarsity Infrastructure

According to Prof. Takwale, the infrastructure of Param Intervarsity will consist of e-platform with all the campus facilitations and resources for learning and development. Examples are of open learning resources; distributed classrooms for various interactivities; organizing, working and learning; facilitations for offering personalized services to students in their learning and performing; etc.

The Course Teams of experts and experienced teachers will offer course/role based education from ‘center’, and tutors and mentors of the Study Center Teams at ‘local’ levels will offer personalized and localized support services to students in their role playing, performing and succeeding in life and work situations. The programmess of sectoral development, such as teacher and school education, will have in-built mechanisms for quality assurance in maintaining standards, relevance and transformative values of the educational offerings. The programs and student’s learning will be organized by employing Consortium for institutions, and Learning Groups and Pariwars for students to be managed by self-governance ways.

Courses Offered
            The courses on Param Intervarsity and Param School would be offered in the following ways:
•           Self-learner / Swadhyayee: Open and Free Education: Register and receive learning materials and learn.
•           Self or Ekalavya Certification: Open and Free with nominal registration charges: Register, create e-Portfolio for recording your progress, receive learning materials, do activities, learn and solve evaluation tests and assignments, use peer and self-evaluation tools and perfect your applications to situated problems in assignments. At the end, you would have personal e-Portfolio and Certification by the Param Intervarsity, which can be used for showing your skills and performance (Experiential Learning)

•           University Supported and Accredited Certification: Open with Fees: Register if you have pre-qualifications. The Provider University and Param Intervarsity will jointly offer the course related educational services; assigns tutors, mentors and study centre services for your applications and problem solving. You can use self and peer evaluation along with tutor and mentor assessment. The outcome will be personal performance e-Portfolio and university accredited certification. 

Prof. Takwale noted that the goal of the Param Intervarsity will be to become self and socially supporting institution linking mass higher education with socio-economic development and transformation. This needs mass participation for mass education and mass development.

One of the major issues of the education and development, he said, is to have a ‘bottom-up’ model of social development and transformation.  

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