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.
How Distance Learning has shaped education ?
"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."
A Learning Beyond the Four Walls...
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 its way to electronic communication that is widely used today.
A New Era
The era of the 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.
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."
For those who cannot afford to attend regular classes, a distance learning course is a blessing in disguise. And with the passage of time, the initial hesitation of learning through distance education has also withered away.
Age is no bar
From high school students to those involved in higher education, the military, and the government, to those pursuing continuing education, corporate training, and lifelong learning, distance learning is being used for multiple ongoing purposes.
The course fee for these distance education courses are much lesser as compared to that of the regular courses and will be reaped by more and more people in the future.
The classes are fixed at students’ convenience. There is no stringent requirement to attend the classes. Students can reschedule the classes that in the past they have missed. Choice of exam dates, time and centre are given to the students. Also, can give a particular exam in a particular year or next year. Students can manage their studies and job as well.
Since there are no regular classes, the study material can be accessed online. The Institute or the school will provide the study material. But with the technology and accessibility of online material, it is quite easy to find the relevant material online.
It helps to groom your personality and makes you pro at multi-tasking. Managing the current job along with the studies helps in career advancement as well as overall development.
Pursuing a good distance learning course can help a lot of people reach the zenith in any organization that they are presently engaged with. Many businesses have found it a valuable tool in making employee education and training quicker and more cost-efficient.
The human spirit continuously urges people to remain curious about their surroundings. Distance Learning can help sustain that spirit.
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.
Online Learning or E-learning
Distance learning can opt for other technological formats including television, DVDs, teleconferencing, and printable material, but the immediacy and functionality of 'Web' learning have 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.
Distance education and the acceptance thereof has skyrocketed in the digital age, making an online MBA degree from an accredited school one of the best options for busy students with careers and family obligations. Technology makes it possible for students to view live class lectures, interact with peers on discussion boards, collaborate on projects with email, and conduct research at online business libraries.
Online programs are offered by colleges, universities, and business schools across the country and around the world. These programs give unparalleled access to everyone with an Internet connection and expose students around the globe to diverse social and business cultures.
The Online MBA Advantages
Students report that the online Master in Business Administration experience is not isolating. In fact, they say that collaborative online project work with their fellow students forges life-long professional and personal relationships.
Some distinct advantages
- Flexible, 24-hour access to learning materials and research
- Savings by eliminating commuting, parking, and college housing costs
- Increased opportunities for employer-assisted tuition
- Focused time commitment on only courses that apply to business and management
For it all to work, however, students enrolled in accredited online MBA degree programs must be disciplined and organized, creating a regular routine to attend classes, teleconferences, lectures, and workshops.
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:
- Indian Institute of Business Management and Studies (IIBMS)
- NMIMS Global Access School for Continuing Education, Chandigarh
- Dr. D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth- Proactive Education
- School of Distance Education, Bharati Vidyapeeth University - Proactive Education
- Xaviers Institute of Business Management Studies, Hyderabad
- Amity Directorate of Distance and Online Education, Amity University
- Annamalai University (Distance Education), Tamil Nadu
- Prin. L. N. Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research
- Acharya Nagarjuna University Centre for Distance Education
- Symbiosis Centre for Distance Learning
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 into 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."