Distance Learning In India
Most Effective Tool of Providing Education to all
The term “Distance Learning” itself means that it is the mode of learning which can be provided to someone sitting at any distance from the institution or experts trying to address the educational requirements. A vast country like India with varied topography and geographic diversity needs it more than any other country, because “education for all” has become a fundamental right and the Government always wants to equip more and more people with adequate knowledge and skills to make a considerable difference in the lives of its citizens.
Two terms: ‘Distance Education’ and ‘Open Learning’ are used interchangeably. They are often combined to be known as Open and Distance Learning (ODL). Open learning is a philosophy and Distance Education is the mode used for translating it into reality, as the two are complementary to each other. Distance Education (DE) is an umbrella term which describes all the teaching-learning arrangements in which the learner and the teacher are separated by space and time. In fact, it is a mode of delivering education and instruction to learners who are not physically present in a traditional setting of a classroom. Transaction of the curriculum is effected by means of specially prepared materials self-study (learning) materials—which are delivered to the learners at their doorstep through various media such as print, television, radio, satellite, audio/video tapes. CD-ROMs. Internet and World Wide Web. etc. Also, a technological medium replaces the inter-personal communication of conventional classroom- based education that takes place between the teacher and the learners. Open learning covers a wide range of innovations and reforms in the educational sector that advocates flexibility to the learner with regard to entry and exit; pace and place of study: method of study and also the choice and combination of courses: assessment and course completion. The lesser the restrictions, the higher the degree of openness. The Open learning system aims to redress social or educational inequality and to offer opportunities not provided by conventional colleges or universities. Educational opportunities are planned deliberately so that access to education is available to larger sections of the society. Thus, ODL is a term which accepts the philosophy of “openness” and uses the “distance mode” of learning.
As a concept, open university and distance education materialised in India in 1985 when the Distance Education
Council (DEC) was constituted under IGNOU Act (Indira Gandhi National Open University Act 1985). The council was assigned the task of coordination and promotion of the open university system and therefore, it tried its best to maintain the quality of education imparted throughout the country under this system. In pursuance of the directions issued by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Higher Education. Government of India dated 29.12.2012. the regulatory functions with regard to Distance Education programmes in higher education have now been vested with the University Grants Commission. The Distance Education Council which was the erstwhile regulator of Distance Education programmes, has been dissolved and all regulatory functions are being undertaken by the UGC. which established Distance Education Bureau in June 2013. The UGC is in the process of framing new Regulations for Distance Education. It has. however, been decided that till such time the new Regulations of the UGC are notified, the guidelines of the erstwhile DEC with regard to recognition of ODL institutions shall be implemented for the purposes of grant of permission to institutions for Distance Education programmes. Guidelines are issued from time to time to caution aspirants desirous of pursuing educational qualifications through open and distance learning (ODL) mode, and advising students to apply only to those programmes approved by it.
Distance Learning can be roughly divided into two delivery types:
Synchronous means that the teacher and the student interact with each other in “real time” such as, two-way video¬conferences, interaction with ‘live’ video of an instructor and telephone conversations. Asynchronous delivery does not take place simultaneously. In this case, the institution may deliver simply study materials including instruction via postal or Internet medium and the students respond at a later time.
Distance education can be separated into two systems:
I. The Regular System 2. The Open System
In the Regular System, the qualification requirements for enrolment are similar to those prescribed for the normal university courses. In the Open System, however, the courses are open to any person who may not even possess any formal qualifications. But in some institutions, they should have attained the age of 18 years for undergraduate and diploma courses and 21 years for postgraduate courses. Enrolment in some courses is subject to qualifying in a written exam as well. The Open System allows a learner to determine his pace of learning and provides education at the doorstep of the learner. The mode of transaction is through self-learning print material, supplemented by audio and video programmes.
While 1GNOU is a hundred-percent state-funded university, distance education is imparted by three kinds of institutions in India:
1. Departments of Correspondence Courses in universities and university-level institutions.
2. Open universities exclusively involved in imparting higher education through the distance mode.
3. A large number of private institutions, mostly offering professional courses.
In India, there has always been an increase in the number of students enrolling for distance-learning courses. For this limited number of seats available in specialised courses, there is a highly competitive rush for admission in which lakhs of students vie with each other.