A four-week MOOC Course on “Introduction to Statistics” was launched virtually on 30th April, 2021 at KISS-DU in collaboration with the Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA), New Delhi. CEMCA was established in 1994 by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Canada.

The four-week capacity building course, which commenced from 1st May, has four modules – Introduction to Statistical Inferences, Significance of Mean, Testing the Hypothesis and Difference between the Means – enabling the participants to develop insights into the significance and implications of statistical analysis and inferences.

Speaking at the inaugural session, Dr. Manas Ranjan Panigrahi, Sr. Programme Officer (Education), CEMCA spoke on the importance of statistical knowledge in Research. He said, “As an intergovernmental organization assisting Governments and Institutions, CEMCA was working on expanding the skills, efficiency and quality of learning using multiple media in open, distance and technology enhanced learning”. He mentioned, Covid-19 has posed several challenges in education and learners were facing difficulties in accessing learning materials, reaching their instructors and stakeholders. He further said, “Institutions are adopting innovative ways to teach their learners and MOOC provides the scope for learning by the marginalised section in a flexible manner. Since KISS-DU is the world’s largest tribal university, CEMCA and KISS-DU joined hands together to help education reach the inaccessible and remote areas”, concluded Dr. Panigrahi.

Addressing the gathering, Professor K. B. Das, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Central University of Odisha congratulated the course developers, collaborators and learners. “I am elated to learn that it is expected to contribute in the area of adequate logical reasoning, bringing theory to the real world”, said Prof. Das. He was confident the course will infuse fundamental understanding in the beginners and that institutions can use MOOC to device innovative and creative answers to tackle the challenges thrown by the pandemic. “The credibility of the course is clear with the involvement of titans like CEMCA and KISS-DU”, added Prof. Das.

Dr. Manoj Kumar Dash, Instructor, Introduction to Statistical Analysis (ISA), MOOC and currently the Regional Director, Evaluation Centre, IGNOU in Bhubaneswar, extended heartfelt gratitude to the participants, from diverse geographical areas, for their overwhelming response. He shared that a total of 3612 participants have registered out of which 2711 are from India and 991 from 41 countries including Nigeria, Africa, Bangladesh, Canada and Kenya. Dr. Dash explained, the course would be beneficial for professional development, research and feedback studies.

Professor Madhu Parhar, Director, CEMCA, said, “The bright side of the virtual world is that overseas participants could also join this launching ceremony. The virus has taught us how to connect and that is the beauty of the online platform.” Citing the popular misconception that Mathematics and Statistics are directly related, he said that researchers need to have knowledge of Statistics. “I feel there is dire need of working collaboratively and I look forward to working hand-in-hand with KISS-DU and other universities in Odisha in the near future”, added Professor Parhar.

In his speech, Professor Deepak Kumar Behera, Vice-Chancellor, KISS-DU congratulated the three major collaborators KISS-DU, CEMCA and IGNOU, for the success of the programme. Sharing his personal experience, he said, he had seen scholars from Social Sciences struggling with Statistics in order to analyze the data collected. Such courses are a welcome step, furnishing practical solutions to the requirements of the scholars and teachers, he stated. He concluded by expressing gratitude to the course developers and gave heads-up on behalf of KISS-DU for such collaborative initiatives in the days to come.

Dr. Iswar Chandra Naik, Associate Dean, KISS-DU proposed the vote of thanks. “It is a great opportunity for all the collaborators and participants to hone their research skills and training of teachers in developing online courses”, he said. Such courses are of utmost importance at KISS-DU as our students are from rural backgrounds and this pandemic has made face-to-face teaching difficult, added Dr. Naik.