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"Preparing students today for tomorrow's workforce has a lot to do with teaching about how to use and evaluate knowledge. Distance learning is rapidly becoming the biggest repository of information we have ever known. It enables learning to happen in a variety of contexts, locations, and times; it allows for a transformation of curriculum and learning. The key will be our ability to find, evaluate and use the information it provides."
Gone are the days when imparting education was confined within the four walls of the classroom. Distance learning the new entrant in the field of education has been fastly catching up with the younger generation. Distance learning or distance education has nowadays become synonymous with e-Learning as most of the education is imparted through computers and internet.
For over a decade distance learning has been an innovative method of teaching and learning for many individuals that began with print technology and the postal service (correspondence education) finally paving it's way to electronic communication that is widely used today.
What is Distance Learning?
To put it simply, Distance learning is the mode of imparting education that contracts time and space between the instructor and the student due to geographical or time constraints. These programmes have been specially designed to help meet the best needs and requirements that arise when learning takes place outside the domain of traditional classroom setting. Distance learning has reversed the dynamics of learning; instead of the student going to school, the school now comes to the student.
The era of 21st century is characterized by distance education that takes place using the internet with an aim to incorporate emerging technologies now readily accessible for the vast majority of students whether in their own homes or at local libraries. These electronic means are used to keep students remain in sync with their teachers or consult experts to bridge the communication gap.
Distance learning can opt for other technological formats including television, DVDs, teleconferencing, and printable material, but the immediacy and functionality of 'Web' learning has emerged as the first choice for many distance learners. That is, online distance learning also referred to as online learning, or e-learning is increasingly becoming the logical way to learn.
Why Distance Learning
No doubt, distance learning is becoming a viable and hot option as it enables students to complete a degree due to its flexible approach. Not to forget with more flexibility comes more responsibility on the part of the learner. Students must learn to work independently without the constant monitoring of an instructor, making distance learning act as a propeller for those who lack motivation.
Distance learning programmes allow students to work at their own pace and time, or get additional job-training while balancing work and family commitments. It is also a great tool to help reach students who are in geographically remote areas or who want to explore opportunities not offered by their local schools.
"Distance learning students are committed to their coursework, usually for the purpose of advancing in their careers. For this reason, you can expect quality work and diligent participation from students."
Distance Learning Council of India
Witnessing a sudden surge in distance education, the Distance Learning Council of India (DLCI) was established in 2009 to uphold high standards of educational excellence in online and distance learning higher education.
The motive is to keep at par the distance learners with those gaining formal academic training for decades. It gives the same kind of individual development as their predecessors who learned from classroom courses. This has changed the concept or definition of formal education which was once restricted to classroom teaching.
The Distance Learning Council (DLC), a non-government agency has been designed to provide a level of quality and acceptability of distance learning degrees.
Future of Distance learning in India
India is one of the most progressive economies in the world today with a population of 1.2 billion. It is believed that by 2020 we will be the youngest nation as most of the workforce will be in the age-group of 25-30 years leaving elbow room for the major developed economies.
But out of the total working population in the country only 5% holds some kind of certification. Our aim must be to provide them with such a programme that can be sealed up quickly so that it caters to a larger population. Thus, skills need to be upgraded to international standards so that this human resource is employable overseas as well.
Over the years, individuals, institutions, businesses, and the military have continuously sought for an alternative means of access to higher education as they strive to cope with the lifestyles and the changing demands of the economies and societies in which they live. Social change has been the driving force behind distance learning.
In this regard, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has the greatest potential to address the alarming issue of skill deficit. Sine the past two years over 1.25 lakh students are being trained by the university in the skill-development sector.
Distance learning institutes in India
There are many institutes in India that are providing various distance learning programmes through the distance learning mode. Some of the prominent institutes are:
IMT-CDL: Institute of Management technology- Centre for Distance Learning offers a wide spectrum of management and information technology programmes. The curriculum is constantly updated to be in touch with the dynamic global and Indian environment. Learning is further enhanced by information technology that connects students to resources and data around the globe. The approach to management education is founded on continuous innovation, development of practical knowledge and a relentless commitment to academic excellence.
Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Management
Post-Graduate Diploma in Financial Management
Post-Graduate Diploma in Marketing Management
Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management
(For more details visit http://www.imtcdl.ac.in/)
SYMBIOSIS: Symbiosis Centre for Distance Learning (SCDL) is a centre of excellence, offering quality Distance Education where latest technology, innovative teaching methodologies and quality education are blended together to create a unique learning experience. SCDL is an approved distance learning institute by Distance Education Council (DEC), Government of India.
SCDL offers several programmes in various disciplines including Management. SCDL derives its strength from its core, in-house Academics team and over 400 visiting faculty / subject matter experts who assist the institute in various academic activities (For more details visit http://www.scdl.net/)
IGNOU: Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) practices a flexible and open system of education in regard to methods and place of learning, combination of courses and eligibility for enrollment, age for entry and methods of evaluation etc. The University has adopted an integrated strategy for imparting instruction. This consists of providing print materials, audio-video, tapes, broadcast on radio and educational TV Channels, teleconferencing, video conferencing as also the face to face counseling, at its study centers located throughout the country. (For more details visit http://www.ignou.ac.in/)
NMIMS: Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies is one of the nation's prime educational and research institutions. With more than 9000 students spanning over 50 programs across 7 specialised schools, NMIMS has transformed itself from Mumbai's pride to become India's most sought after academic community.
Courses offered: In order to meet the growing demand for management education, the Shri Vile Parle Kelavani Mandal, with the help of a donation from Narsee Monjee Educational Trust, established a recognized Management institute of the Mumbai University in 1981. Since then NMIMS has grown into a flourishing University, offering courses / programs across various disciplines, such as Management. Today, the University has over 5000 students and more than 200 faculty members. The faculty is an eclectic mix of Industry and Academic experience; national and international experiences.
MITCOM: MIT College of Management, Pune is successfully running Post Graduate Programme in Management and Executive MBA programmes. Established in 2007, with a view to impart value based education in these new-age fields of Management Sciences, MITCOM aims at providing the corporate sector, professionally sound, sophisticated and dynamic leaders with a vision and endeavor to meet the challenges of the new millennium.
MBA General Management
Retail Business Management
Project, construction & infrastructure Business Management
As we define the role of distance education, the new wave of education, in helping to relearn and re-skill we need to realize that vocational education needs to be integrated in the university education set-up. Vocation-oriented training should be a compulsory part of a degree programme. And it has to become a part of the conventional education system. So don't have any hiccups and opt for associate, bachelors, MBA, Masters or Ph.D online programme as distance learning is here to stay.
"Faculty is moving forward, technologies are improving, and student demand is increasing -- but few changes are taking place in the university structure as a whole to accommodate the special needs of the distance-learning student."