Farmers face serious gaps in access to critical information on science-based production and management practices. Can MOOC technology be of any help? COL explored this possibility with IIT-Kanpur using a phone-based MOOC.
The six-week course attracted 1055 registrants, of which 296 graduated with certificates. Besides small-scale farmers, a number of students from the high school system had also joined in. About a third of the active participants were students in degree programs of an agricultural university.
Surveys conducted after the course showed high levels of satisfaction among the learners. Farmers reported that course content and advisory information was far easier to absorb. Though the course was offered at no cost to the learner, farmers indicated they would be willing to pay a registration fee so long as the high quality of course content and reliability of course delivery would be maintained. Learners who joined from high schools and colleges were attracted by the superior quality of course content, and noted in survey results that course material was up to date and crisply delivered.
Mr. Bhale Narayan Pandey, a practising gardener with school education, says that he learnt about some new techniques from this course and is applying them in his work right away.
With right type of educational content and technology, covering a wide spectrum of learners is not difficult.