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Photojournalism Free Course with a National Geographic certified educator on Swayam Platform

An in-depth review of this course that offers live sessions, a dedicated forum to receive feedback on your photographs, and a certificate upon completion.

I am writing about my experience in the online course on Photojournalism offered on Swayam Platform and curated by Dr. Radhika Khanna from Pondicherry University.

Why I took this course

One day I received an email in my inbox informing me about this course that had already begun but there was still time to join. I have been taking photographs as a personal hobby since 1984. On receiving the email, I thought that it was a great opportunity to improve and understand my photographic hobby. And the best part of it was that it was a FREE course.

The introductory lecture seemed interesting. The introductory lecture and full details of the course may be found at the course page.

An additional reason for me to join the course was also that I wanted to experience an online course as a student. I have been a resource person in another online course Online Refresher Course in Law offered by NALSAR University of Law. I wanted to find out how it feels to be on the other side of the spectrum.

So, I joined it and I am so happy that I did.

History of the course

This course on Photojournalism is running for the second time. I learnt that last year it had an enrollment of more than 2000 students. And this year it has an enrollment of 2584 students.


Dr. Radhika Khanna, the curator of the course, is an assistant professor in the Department of Electronic Media and Mass Communication. An alumnus of Jamia Milia Islamia University in Delhi, she specialized in filmmaking and research in cinema and pedagogy. She mentored under the legendary Barry John and has 27 years of professional experience in the field of Theatre-in-Education. She is a National Geographic certified educator, committed to engaging students in joyful, lifelong learning processes for self-development and for contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals. More details about her may be found at her profile.

My Skills with photography and filmmaking

I was initiated into photography during my graduation from Hindu College, University of Delhi by our Professor, Dr. Rituparna. He had given us some tips on composition and lighting and I educated myself about exposure, ISO, aperture, etc. at the very basic level. Since then, I have been experimenting with multimedia, making short films for fun from the videos that I make. I have a YouTube channel where I keep posting my creations. One of them got a really large viewing – for reasons unknown to me, see below:

How to be successful in this course

This course gives an opportunity to procure a certificate for successful completion of the course. There are two steps involved to reach this end:

  1. The first part consists of assignments which are described at the end of each week. The assignments are of three kinds – (a) short write ups on one’s learning; (b) practical photography in which one has to share one’s own photographs as per the parameters prescribed for the exercise; (c) MCQ quizzes. The first two categories of assignments have to be submitted during the course but with many weeks given for submission from the date of issue of the assignment. The quizzes may be submitted till the last date of the course.
  2. One needs to submit a minimum of ten exercises to become eligible to take the proctored physical test (a fee might be applied to take this test) at the end of the programme to be conducted by the National Testing Agency for Indian students. For foreign students, they are informed individually as to how their test will be conducted. One needs to secure a minimum of 200 marks from those assignments. Highest marks from five assignments form part of the result with a 30% weightage in the final result. Remaining 70% are from the end of the course proctored MCQ quiz exam.

Even if one does not succeed in submitting the required number of assignments, the student once enrolled, has life long access to the course.

In case they want to take the exam next year, they are required to be enrolled again next year and do the needful for success.

The Course

The course is taught through recorded videos for 12-15 minutes duration. The recordings usually have either Dr. Radhika Khanna in conversation with renowned photographers or photojournalists, but sometimes their recordings on subjects pertaining to the learnings in the course. These experts are primarily from India but some are from outside India too. It provides a deep insight in the history and development of photography and photojournalism as well as the experiences of the experts from the field.

Even better part is the live interactions that are held once every two weeks in which these stalwarts and experts talk with the students. They are happy to share their experiences, provide tips to new learners enrolled in the course, and answer any questions that participants in the live session ask them. I have found in the live session a consistent set of about 25-30 students participating.

The best part is that there are written scripts also available from the recording. Reading them is much less time consuming if one is short of time or one wants to revisit the topic after having watched the video. There is even a summary provided of the key points of the topic – so one does not even need to make notes!

There is a very carefully prepared reading list provided for each topic. The materials are either downloadable in pdf or accessible online. She even provides new links if a new aspect arises during live sessions.

The students may also become part of the closed Facebook page and share their photographs and learn from each other.

There is also a chat forum where students may ask anything in addition to sharing their photographs. All the announcements regarding the course are made on that platform in addition to individual mails being sent to the students.

Dr. Radhika Khanna responds to each mail very promptly and with detailed answers.

Her patience dealing with repeated questions and her comments on the photographs show her passion for teaching the course.

So far, the formal assignments have not been graded and I do not know if there will be individual feedback on the substantive assignments but we do get individualized feedback on each photograph that we have submitted on the forum chat.


As the exams have yet to take place, I do not know about the fairness of results but I have no reason to doubt about its fairness from the way the responses have come so far on the photographs submitted on the forum chat and our interactions with her and other experts during the live session.

In any case, none of the assignments was difficult to attempt as all of them were based on the topics covered in the video or the materials supplied.

In order to procure the certificate one has to submit assignments and only after securing a certain level of marks in the assignments with a weight of 30%, one can take the final exam.

Time Commitment

The time required on a weekly basis is not more than three hours to listen to the recorded video. However, as the videos are accessible at all times, one can do binge watching also when one has the time.

The assignments did not take more than 10-15 minutes.


I think that it must be one of the best online courses. It is very enjoyable. With the live sessions, I have formed a personal bond with the teacher. She smiles a lot more in the live sessions than is visible in the videos. In the videos, she seems very tense and formal but in person, she is remarkably friendly and supportive of students with varied experiences and skill sets.

What’s Next?

Presently, I am more focused on this course. I will think of which next course to do once I have successfully completed this course. Incidentally, my sister, 69 years old, too has joined this course after seeing one of the lessons that I was watching. Now she is doing this course much more seriously than me and she is not even in education! She loves gardening and has been clicking beautiful pictures of nature. I have come to appreciate her photographs a lot more now than prior to this course. She seems to have an innate sense of composition, lighting and subjects.

Ved Kumari Profile Image

Ved Kumari

Currently I am the Vice Chancellor, National Law University Odisha. Formerly, Dean and Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi

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