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Module 6: ChemTalk:
Chemistry Education in the 21st Century:
Challenges and Opportunities– Part 2
(Month of Publication: July, 2018)

Developed at


MHRD, Govt. of India

Guru Angad Dev Teaching Learning Centre
A Centre of MHRD, Govt. of India
Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching
Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa College
University of Delhi, Delhi, India
Email id:


CORE TEAM Name & Institution

Coordinator, Dr. (Mrs.) Vimal Rarh

NRC of Chemistry Coordinator, National Resource Centre of Chemistry
Project Head & Joint Director, Guru Angad Dev Teaching Learning Centre (GAD-TLC)
Senior Asst. Professor, Department of Chemistry
SGTB Khalsa College, University of Delhi
Chairman, Prof. A K Bakhshi
NRC of Chemistry Vice Chancellor, PDM University
Ex-Chair Professor, Dept. of Chemistry, University of Delhi
Chairman, and National Resource Centre of Chemistry of MHRD
Chairman, Guru Angad Dev Teaching Learning Centre (GAD-TLC) of MHRD
Director Dr. Jaswinder Singh
Director, Guru Angad Dev Teaching Learning Centre (GAD-TLC)
Principal, SGTB Khalsa College, University of Delhi
Module Contributors Name & Institution

Author Prof. A K Bakhshi

Vice Chancellor, PDM University
Ex-Chair Professor, Dept. of Chemistry, University of Delhi

Module 6: ChemTalk: Chemistry Education in the 21st Century:
Challenges and Opportunities– Part 2
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1. Introduction

As discussed in Part 1: our syllabi are very heavy and need to be revised regularly;
the most important component of any education system is teaching and learning
which need to focus not on rote learning and scoring high marks, but on
encouraging thinking, innovation and creativity amongst the students; there is going
to be big challenge in research as well because literature is growing very-very fast
as chemistry knowledge is growing exponentially.
The solution to all the aforementioned problems lies to a great extent in integration
of technology with education, and that’s basically the focus of discussion in this

2. E-learning and ICT

Integration of technology or ICT with education comes under a general name e-

learning. So the question arises what is e-learning? e-learning basically means
electronic learning. The emphasis here is still on learning, “e” is just a mechanism.
In simple language, e-learning is a learning that uses information and
communication technology (ICT).
ICT is an umbrella term that encompasses all communication technologies that
provide access to information. These include internet, wireless network, satellite
communication, cell phones, digital television etcetera. e-learning is also known as
digital learning or ICT enabled education.

3. e-content and its development

e-learning is a very general term. If we need to implement e-learning we need

some content and this content needs to be developed by experts. Subject matter
experts develop the content. This content must be developed in a very structured
manner based on some syllabus. This content is called as “static content” and is
basically a primary factor in determining the quality of e-learning. The static content
consists of – text, value additions, quizzes, graphics, images etc. This static content
is then subjected to multimedia enrichment by technical team. Multimedia
enrichment means adding audios, videos, animation, and simulations, etc.
Multimedia enrichment of the static content gives you e-content. So “e-content” is
nothing else but multimedia enriched static content.

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A good quality e-content is one which has all those features which make self-
learning exciting and interesting. For example, “e-PGPathshala project” of the
University Grants Commission is mainly concerned with the development of e-
content for post graduate disciplines and in this content the development of static
and later on multimedia enrichment ultimately leads to four quadrant content, it’s
called basically a four quadrant approach. One quadrant is e-text which includes
detailed texts and lessons; then is self-learn which means video lectures having
texts, graphics, visual and animations etc.; self -assessment which include self -
assessed quizzes and they also give you the feedback if your answer is wrong, why
it is wrong, if it is correct why it is correct and then one very interesting quadrant is
there that is Know More which includes value additions, web links and suggested
This four quadrant content corresponding to one conventional class of around One
hour duration is known as “e-content module in four quadrant format”. So every
module has all the four components, i.e., e-text, self-learn, self-assessment, know
Good e-content should have certain qualities. It needs to be authentic; that means it
should have been developed by top experts, it should facilitate self- learning and
self- assessment. It must be highly interactive; it should be multimedia enriched; the
whole content should have been written and arranged in a very structured fashion.
Easy navigation, modular and reusable are other qualities of a good e-content. Now
whatsoever e-content has been developed for various post-graduate subjects in the
country including chemistry all this is available on this website of inflibnet
( All this content is also available on SWAYAM PRABHA DTH
In chemistry, under the ePGPathsala Project, we have developed e-content in four
quadrant form for sixteen PG level papers. All this content has been developed by
our group in chemistry and this is available on inflibnet and DTH channels. PG level
e-content has been developed by the top experts of the country; it is like the best of
the country addressing the rest.

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4. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

4.1 What are MOOCs?

MOOCs is also a form of e-learning but in a very structured manner. The word
“MOOC” was coined in 2008 by Dave Cormier. “MOOC” is an acronym where “M”
is for massive, because there can be unlimited or massive enrolments; “O” for
open i.e., no qualifications are required for enrolment in a MOOC until and unless
you want to obtain grades/credit. “O” for online, as this content is available online
and can be accessed through web; and “C” for course having specific learning
outcomes. A MOOC can be of any duration, but normally for one semester paper
we have one course as MOOC. For example, in MSc chemistry – if there are
sixteen papers, there can be sixteen corresponding MOOCS.
MOOCs are the structured courses where e-content is provided to the learner in the
form of a virtual class through a web-based portal, preferably LMS (Learning
Management System). They can be accessed by any suitable device i.e., desktop,
laptop, tablet or smart-phones. The e-content is arranged in a logical sequence,
either in topic-wise format or weekly format for learners to meet specific learning
outcomes. In addition to e-content, there are various activities provided to the virtual
group of learners like online quizzes, discussion forums, live chat and live video.
The MOOCs must not be taken as automated delivery of content without a teacher,
rather the role of teacher is very important in delivering the MOOCs by providing
virtual interaction to the learners. There can be one or more teacher(s) virtually
interacting with the group of students to answer their queries/doubts depending on
the number of learners.
The basic philosophy of the MOOCs is 4 A’s - anytime, anywhere, anyone, any
number of times. MOOCs are highly economical as they are made available almost
free of cost. MOOCs will be like mini smart colleges and that the most important
thing about MOOC is that one can decide one’s own pace of learning, you don’t
need to be physically present in the classroom; any time convenient to you, you can
learn from it.
4.2 Why so much emphasis on MOOCs?
So now the question comes why there is so much emphasis on MOOCs and e-
learning? India has third largest system of education in the world. In the year 2018
we have more than 900 universities in India, nearly 50,000 colleges, 1.5m teachers
and 34.2m students and if you compare with a corresponding values in the year
1950, there has been a considerable growth by any yardstick. But despite all this
our gross enrolment ratio is only 25.5%; that means out of our all youth in the age
group of 18-23 years, only about 25.5% are able to pursue higher education. And
even the International ranking of our higher education institution is not very good, it
is rather poor, so here MOOCs can help us a lot because the MOOCs are
developed by the top experts. It’s like the best of the country addressing to the rest
and all these will be available to the entire country. Therefore, MOOCs can help in
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increasing the gross enrolment ratio in India. Accessibility can be increased through
MOOCs because you cannot keep on opening more and more universities and
colleges, you require faculties, you require infrastructure etc. So, this is an
immediate advantage, which comes from MOOCs.
Other important point about MOOCs is that it will make learning learner centric and
interactive. This is unlike our traditional method of teaching, which is basically
teacher centric. You can feel that the face of higher education in the country is
slowly going to change. Maybe we can say we are witnessing a transition phase,
maybe after ten years education will no longer be limited to physical classrooms,
almost everything for self-learning will be available online.
Government of India is making sincere efforts in this direction. MOOCs are being
developed in India under the aegis of MHRD by various “National Coordinators”.

All these MOOCs, which are being developed under the aegis of MHRD by various
national coordinators will ultimately be uploaded or hosted on the technical platform
“SWAYAM” available at

4.3 SWAYAM Portal and Structure of MOOCs: Four Quadrant Approach

SWAYAM basically stands for “Study webs of active learning for young aspiring
minds” and this platform hosts various MOOCs. All the MOOCs on SWAYAM have
same generic structure. Here also there are “four quadrants”:
• Quadrant I: consists of e-tutorials, which includes video and audio contents,
animations, simulations, video demonstration, etc.
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• Quadrant II: consists of e-content, self- instructional materials, e-books,
case studies etc.
• Quadrant III: assessment - it gives various problems and solutions, MCQs,
fill in the blanks, match, etc. and various e-quizzes and the highlight is that
you get the feedbacks.
• Quadrant IV: discussion forum, where learner can seek clarifications os
doubts and difficulties from the course coordinators.
There are normally three types of MOOCs, which have been uploaded on
• Self-paced courses: these are available to learner always and one can
learn at own pace; there is no start date and end date of these MOOCs.
• Certificate courses: which anybody can enroll without any pre-qualification;
there is start and end date for the course as well as last date of enrolment,
before which the learner must enroll. Certificate is provided on successful
completion of these courses; most of them have online quizzes for
successful completion; they may or may not have proctored examination.
The learner may not be enrolled in any university system.
• Credit courses: these are meant for students for earning credits; student
can earn credit through these courses only after their university has
approved these MOOCs in their statutory bodies. The successful completion
of the MOOC requires a student to pass a proctored examination.

For all the types of MOOCs, anyone can enroll for free, but for getting
certificate or credit, a nominal charge has to be given.
MOOCs have been introduced as a part of formal education system in India
to earn credits, wherein a student can earn upto 20% of credits per semester
through these online courses called as UGC (Credit Framework for Online
Learning Courses through SWAYAM) Regulation, 2016.

MOOCs are going to be a boon for everybody in one way or the other.

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Structure of a MOOC: In a MOOC, e-content is arranged in either week-wise

format or topic wise format.
For example, for a MOOC developed under ePGPathsala project of UGC, in one
MOOC there are 35-40 e-content modules spread across fifteen weeks. The
various modules are arranged in a very systematic and logical manner. The first
seven weeks are self-learning weeks; eighth week is a revision and assessment
week; week nine to fourteen are again self- learning weeks and week fifteen is
revision and assessment week. Throughout these weeks, discussion forums are
active and course coordinator can provide activities, quizzes to the students
through the SWAYAM portal. At the end, there is offline/online proctored
examination for successful completion to earn certificate/credit.

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Ultimately SWAYAM will be a platform to provide “ATL” that means anytime

learning. It is similar to what we get in ATM anytime money.
4.5 Challenges in the development of MOOCs
There are many challenges in the development of the MOOCs. In order to have
high quality, authenticity and interactivity in the development of the MOOCs a
proper coordination between academic and technical teams is necessary. MOOCs
must be developed in a time bound manner; it should not be that many years are
taken to complete one MOOC so that by the time a MOOC is completed the course
is changed or it becomes irrelevant; keeping in mind the regional needs in India
multi lingual conversion in the MOOCs. In the development of the MOOCs, it’s only
the teachers who develop the MOOCs so their teaching ability is also reflected in
the way the MOOCs are developed. While developing e-content for MOOCs, it
needs to be arranged in systematic and logical manner, language should be simple,
clarity of expression and ability to come down to the level of the students should be
kept in mind.
Ultimately a stage would come when the MOOCs become so popular that people
start opting for them rather than classroom teaching because they help in self-
learning, self- assessment, etc. With the development of the MOOCs, the role of the
teachers in the twenty first century is going to change significantly. They need to
have not only good domain knowledge, then they should have good writing skills,
good communication skills and should be perfect in pedagogy and ICT skills also.

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Other challenges will be for assessment of the students who are enrolled in
MOOCs: Impersonation; poor assessment system of learner’s independent work;
Management of Large number of students for credit transfer.
Some limitations of MOOCs: Human learns best socially; Unfortunately, MOOCs
are predominantly like a one way street and a lonely one; Not ideal for individuals
who struggle with motivation; Low completion rate –learning alone – lack of
feedback or encouragement; around 5% percent of the total enrolled are able to
complete MOOCs; whether the students can apply the concepts learned; learning
outcomes have not been gauged, etc.
But, ultimately all depends on the quality of the MOOCs. If the quality of the
MOOCs is very high, with good interactivity, written in a very simple manner; they
can be surely of immense help not only for students but for teachers as well.
There are some other challenges in the implementation of MOOCs in India. In spite
of the growing number of users in India, the internet speed in India is only about 7-8
mbps whereas in some of the leading countries of the world it is more than 25 mbps.
For MOOcs to be successful, the internet speed needs to be improved.
At the world scenario just as we have SWAYAM platform, there are many other
popular MOOC platforms in the world like- EDX, COURSERA, UDACITY, Khan
Academy, etc.

5. Online Refresher Program in Chemistry through National Resource Centre of


As a major initiative, MOOCs are now being developed for teacher training in the
country. 75 National Resource Centres have been allocated by MHRD, Govt. of
India. Guru Angad Dev Teaching Learning Centre of MHRD at SGTB Khalsa
College has been selected as the National Resource Centre of Chemistry (NRCC)
by the MHRD. The mandate of this NRCC is to conduct annual refresher program in
chemistry every year and it will be an online program in the form of MOOCs through
SWAYAM portal. This Course that you are enrolled in, is the first Online Refresher
Course for Chemistry Teachers which it is going to be very useful for entire higher
education faculty of the country. One may be assistant professor, associate
professor or professor it will be useful for all of them and there is a rationale behind
this because knowledge is growing very fast, doubling time of knowledge has
shrunk and therefore faculty needs to be upgraded with this growing knowledge.
One common apprehension among the people is that perhaps e-learning will
replace teachers, please remember no one can replace a good teacher. All this will
ultimately supplement traditional learning; it will empower teachers and definitely
not replace them. MOOCs have the potential to make better and stronger India in
the field of education.

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6. ICT for revision of Syllabi, Assessment and Research

ICT can also provide a platform for periodic revision of syllabi because that
needs to be done regularly in view of the growth of knowledge in chemistry. This is
now possible in lesser time because of e-mails, discussion forums, video
conferencing etc.
For assessment also, more and more institution are opting for online examination,
again it’s the integration of technology with examination system. Online examination
gives immediate result, is uniform in grading and cost effective. ICT tools can also
be used for self-assessment by students as well as for internal assessment by
Literature has become very-very vast and it has become a challenge for researcher
in chemistry. The literature survey for doing research can be carried out by the use
of electronic databases. Many other ICT Tools for data interpretation, analysis, etc.
help in research. Electronic databases as a matter of fact are becoming the real
information source in the twenty first century. Every electronic database has a
search engine and using that it makes the task of survey much easier, faster and
simpler. Also instead of spending time in searching, one can spend more time on
thinking and trying to become more innovative and creative so all these things will
ultimately help.

7. Changing Face of Chemistry Education in the country

The face of chemistry education in the country is going to change very soon by its
integration with technology. Many limitations of the traditional talk and chalk method
can be overcome with the use of technology. For example, many three dimensional
structures which we normally use in our stereochemistry etc. can’t be very well
explained on the blackboard but by using various animation, simulations, videos,
etc. all these things can be very well understood by the students. This is a big
change and all this quality education is going to be available to the masses;
everybody in the country can learn from such MOOCs and e-content. The
availability of MOOCs and technology integration with teaching-learning and
assessments is also going to be a boon for the teachers.
National Resource Centres can certainly help them but then at the same time,
teachers should also realise that their roles are going to change significantly. They
certainly need very good domain knowledge, they certainly need good
communication skills, but in addition, they need to be perfect in ICT skills and newer
pedagogy. Now so many developments have come in this front - one is e-learning,
but in present scenario, along with conventional teaching, they can integrate ICT
tools which is known as blended learning. Blended learning would mean a student
or a learner can attend a face to face conventional class as well as learn from e-
content and MOOCs. As teacher you can guide your student in this and change
your teaching pedagogy.

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You can adopt flip-classroom methodology as well. In this methodology, the
conventional methodology where we teach in classrooms and students solve
problems at home is flipped. It is flipped or inverted in the sense that now students
can watch videos or modules or MOOCs on their own at home and do problem
solving through interactions with teachers. Teachers can ask them to watch
selective videos and then discuss and do problem solving and other activities, etc.
related to what they have learnt.
This is another change in the art of teaching or pedagogy; so slowly the role of the
teachers and expectation around the teachers are going to change. In another
module we will discuss details of the changing roles of teachers with focus on ICT
tools, which can be employed by chemistry teachers.

Reference Material
• A.K. Bakhshi & Vimal Rarh; Feature Article: Chemistry Education in the 21st Century:
Challenges and Opportunities; Science Reporter, CSIR, 38-42, January 2012.

• Vimal Rarh, A. Goel (2011), A Methodology for e-Quiz Content Production for E-Learning,
Second International Conference on Emerging Applications of Information Technology, 145-148.

• Ruth C. Clark, Richard E. Mayer (2011). e-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven
Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning. John Wiley & Sons.

• A.K. Bakhshi, & Vimal Rarh; (2013). ICT for Enhancing the quality of Open and Distance
Education through e-Learning; Book “Open and Distance Learning in India: Challenges and
Prospect” (edited by Chaturvedi A and Singh K V), IGNOU, 13-35.

• Alonso F, Couchet J, Manrique D and Soriano F J (Nov 2006), “Learning Objectives for E-
Learning Instruction”, 4th International Conference on Multimedia and Information and
Communication Technologies in Education, Spain.

• SWAYAM portal;
• Gazette notification regarding MOOC;
• PMMMNMTT scheme guidelines;

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