Democratisation of knowledge through open-access resources and online education - Hindustan Times
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Democratisation of knowledge through open-access resources and online education

ByHindustan Times
Oct 18, 2023 04:30 PM IST

This article is authored by Siddharth Rajgarhia, chief learner and director, Delhi Public School, Varanasi, Nashik, Lava Nagpur, and Hinjawadi.

In the swiftly evolving educational landscape, two influential dynamics are redefining the learning paradigm and ushering in the democratisation of knowledge on a global scale: the proliferation of open-access resources and the ascendancy of online education platforms. As we step into 2023, these digital avenues have never been more crucial in breaking down barriers and fostering a global community of learners.

Online education (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Online education (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Open-access resources have emerged as a cornerstone of knowledge democratisation, encompassing open-access journals, textbooks, research repositories, and more, ensuring that valuable information is freely accessible to all. The open-access movement has gained significant momentum, with over 17,000 open-access journals available worldwide, enabling individuals from diverse backgrounds to access cutting-edge research, academic articles, and educational materials without traditional subscription fees.

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Moreover, open-access articles are not only freely available but also cited more frequently than their paywalled counterparts, showcasing the potential for broader dissemination of research findings and the acceleration of scientific progress. This benefits not only scholars but also students and educators, allowing them to tap into a wealth of knowledge that was once locked behind financial barriers.

Students now have access to a vast range of educational materials through digital platforms, including high-quality courses, research papers, and textbooks. These resources empower students to explore various subjects, expand their knowledge, and customise their learning experiences to suit their preferences. Online education systems enable students to learn at their own pace, take charge of their education, and manage their schedules efficiently. Additionally, the interactive aspect of online learning promotes engagement, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills crucial for personal and professional growth.

Online education platforms have emerged as dynamic engines of learning, transcending geographical boundaries and making quality education accessible to a global audience. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered by platforms like Coursera, edX, and Udacity have revolutionised education by providing access to high-quality courses from renowned universities and institutions. These platforms boast staggering numbers, with Coursera alone having over 100 million registered learners and edX boasting over 40 million, underscoring the global demand for self-improvement and knowledge acquisition.

What sets online education apart is its flexibility and adaptability, facilitated by adaptive learning technology tailoring coursework to individual students' needs. This ensures personalised support and challenges required for optimal learning. Moreover, online platforms foster global collaboration, enabling students and educators from diverse backgrounds to engage in cross-cultural exchanges, enriching the learning experience.

In India, the Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) initiative, launched by the Ministry of Education, has been a pioneering force in democratising education. SWAYAM offers over 2,000 online courses across various disciplines, designed and offered by esteemed Indian universities and faculty. With over 2.5 crore (25 million) registered users, SWAYAM has made quality education accessible to learners across the country, further affirming the power of online education in democratising knowledge.

SWAYAM Prabha, consisting of 32 DTH channels, broadcasts high-quality educational content 24/7 through the GSAT-15 satellite. These channels offer curriculum-based courses with certification readiness, catering to lifelong learners in India and abroad. This initiative fosters accessibility and empowers individuals, especially those in remote regions, by delivering education through television, ensuring inclusivity and personal and professional growth.

Another noteworthy initiative, the Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA) Portal, spearheaded by the Ministry of Education, supports over 18 languages, including English, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, and Urdu. It empowers teachers with valuable resources and tools to enhance their pedagogical skills, ultimately improving the quality of education at the grassroots level.

Looking ahead to 2023, these initiatives, both in India and globally, are poised to empower millions of learners and contribute significantly to the global learning renaissance. With open access and online education, knowledge knows no boundaries, and education becomes a lifelong journey accessible to everyone. As we navigate the digital age, let us harness the full potential of these transformative forces, ensuring that education remains a powerful tool for empowerment and societal progress.

This article is authored by Siddharth Rajgarhia, chief learner and director, Delhi Public School, Varanasi, Nashik, Lava Nagpur, and Hinjawadi.

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