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Open and Distance Learning: Challenges and Opportunities 12 September, 2012

Prof. Swaraj Basu, Professor of History at School of Social Sciences, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) led the Weekly Discussion Program through A-VIEW on Wednesday, 12th September 2012. The Discussion was on “Open and Distance Learning: Challenges and Opportunities”.

Open and Distance Learning: Challenges and Opportunities

Open and Distance Learning: An Alternative Platform

Compared to conventional learning, open and distance learning is not the first choice among students. The popular notion today is that distance learning is chosen by those who cannot access conventional colleges. However, this is not completely true. Open and distance learning is an alternative platform of learning for people who really want to learn. This is especially true in the case of working professionals and armed forces personnel who wish to learn while on their jobs.

Use of Technology

Prof. Basu said “Face to Face learning can be enriched by using technology”. However, this is not really the case in conventional schools today. But, in open and distance learning, a lot of focus is given to complementing regular classes with the use of technology.

Challenges

The main challenge of distance learning is that direct real-time feedback from the students or teachers is not possible.

The focus of open and distance learning is on self learning. The course material for students is made by experts and hence the quality of material is guaranteed. However, services provided to learners such as delivery of course material, conduct of examinations and publishing of results should be done on a timely manner.

For the system to succeed, students graduating should become ambassadors of open and distance learning.

Looking ahead at the Future

Open and distance learning will gradually move into a realm of online learning in the future. Connectivity to the internet and flexibility in the program would be the greatest enablers of online learning.

Answering to a question, Prof. Basu said “There are many students from open universities who do as well as other students.” Real results depend on the students and not really in the nature of university. It is the mindset of people towards open education that really matters. Degrees offered by open universities are recognized at par with regular universities for jobs in the Government sector and inmany Private companies.

Prof. Basu was confident that open education is growing. More universities offering distance education will come up in the future.

About 12 universities including JSS Bikaner, Indian Naval Academy and IIIT Hyderabad attended the session.

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