Thursday, 2 January 2014

Paper 7: Open and Distance Learning

Paper 7: Open and Distance Education
Q.3. Trace the history of open universities in India. What are the objectives of open universities in India?
Ans: History:
The first university of India, initially known as Andhra Pradesh Open University, came into being on 26th August 1982 through an Act of Andhra Pradesh State Legislature (APOU Act, 1982), Subsequently, the University was renamed as Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University on 7th December 1991 by the Government of Andhra Pradesh (APOU Act, 1992). The establishment of this University, the first of its kind in India, heralded an era of affirmative action on the part of the Government for providing opportunities of higher education to all sections of society and catering to the changing individual and social needs. Hence the motto of the University is Education for all.

In 1983, the University started functioning with a modest learner enrolment of 6,321 and 22 Study Centres. Since then there has been a steady growth in intake and an increase in the number of Study Centres. In 2001 the enrolment is about 1 lakh and the number of Study Centres have increased to 137. The total number of students on rolls in all the programs is about 4,50,000. Now the total study centres increased upto 200.

Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University (VMOU or previously known as Kota Open University, renamed through a Gazette notification by the Government of Rajasthan on 21st September 2002) came into being in 1987 as a pioneering institution for open learning in Rajasthan. The idea of establishing an open university in the State of Rajasthan has its origin in the observations of the UGC Committee under the Chairmanship of Late Prof. G. Rama Reddy which observed that “the distance system in Rajasthan is well established and has the potential of growing into a full-fledged Open University.” The establishment of VMOU (Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University) took place with the amalgamation of two institutes of correspondences courses viz. Institute of Correspondence Studies and Continuing Education Jaipur and (College of Correspondence Studies) Udaipur with a view to strengthen and achieve proper coordination among the scattered vast distance education resources and to serve the people of State a uniform high quality education.

The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), established by an Act of Parliament in 1985, has continuously striven to build an inclusive knowledge society through inclusive education. It has tried to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) by offering high-quality teaching through the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode.
The University began by offering two academic programmes in 1987, i.e., Diploma in Management and Diploma in Distance Education, with a strength of 4,528 students.
Today, it serves the educational aspirations of over 4 million students in India and 36 other countries through 21 Schools of Studies and a network of 67 regional centres, around 3,000 learner support centres and 67 overseas centres. The University offers about 490 certificate, diploma, degree and doctoral programmes

The following are the main objectives of the Open Universities in India:
  • To provide educational opportunities to those students who could not take advantage of conventional institutions of higher learning.
  • To provide equality of educational opportunities for higher education through distance mode for a large segment of the population, including those in employment, women (including housewives) and adults who wish to upgrade their education or acquire knowledge and studies in various fields.
  • To provide flexibility with regard to eligibility for enrolment, age of entry, choice of Programs, methods of learning, conduct of examinations and operation of the programs.
  • To provide programs complementary to those of the existing Universities in the State in the field of higher learning so as to maintain the highest standards on par with the best Universities in the country.
  • To promote integration within the State through its policies and programs.
  • To offer degree Programs and non-degree certificate Programs for the benefit of the working population in various fields and for the benefit of those who wish to enrich their lives by studying subjects of cultural and aesthetic values.
  • To make provision for research and for the advancement and dissemination of knowledge.
  • To serve as a source of continuing education, consultancy and to provide equal access to knowledge and higher education.

Q.4. Discuss the importance of distance education. What are its core values?
Ans.   Importance:
The concept of distance learning has emerged in various advanced countries of the world. The following points highlight the need and importance of distance education:-

1) Explosion of knowledge
There is explosion of knowledge because of rapid scientific and technological developments. The formal system of education on account of its rigidity and high cost, finds it difficult to incorporate new changes speedily as desired.

2) Population Explosion
Unprecedented growth rate of population has resulted in the corresponding increase in students. The formal education system serves a selected and limited number of students.

3) Varied Needs
Distance learning is needed to satisfy the varied needs of varied students.

4) Earning while Learning
Distance education is especially needed for those who want to learn while learning.

5) Desire to Improve Qualifications
There are many people who want to improve their education qualification while they are in jobs. Distance learning provides opportunities to such people to improve their qualifications.

6) Geographical Isolation
People may be geographical isolated because of distance or because a communication system has not been developed.

7) Social Isolation
People may be socially isolated or disadvantaged due to financial, physical, emotional or family circumstances.

8) For Different Ages
Distance learning can be used to teach people of different ages and to teach courses from a wide range of discipline areas.

9) Universal Education
Distance learning is needed to achieve the cherished goal of the nation for universalization of education.

10) Democratic Aspirations
Distance learning is needed to meet the great demand for democratisation of education from those sections of society that are neglected.

11) Self - Improvement
Distance learning is needed from the point of view of self-learning and self-improvement of an individual who , otherwise is deprived of receiving proper education.

12) Boon for In - Service Aspirants
Open universities is a boon for in- service aspirants. They can improve their educational qualifications and by doing so, they can brighten up their chances of promotion.

13) Easy Access
It provides opportunities to large number of people who had previously been denied such opportunities.

Core Values of Distance Education:
These principles assume that the practice of distance learning contributes to the larger social mission of education and training in a democratic society. With that in mind, the principles reflect the following tenets and values:
  • Learning is a lifelong process, important to successful participation in the social, cultural, civic, and economic life of a democratic society.
  • Lifelong learning involves the development of a range of learning skills and behaviours that should be explicit outcomes of learning activities.
  • The diversity of learners, learning needs, learning contexts, and modes of learning must be recognized if the learning activities are to achieve their goals.
  • All members of society have the right to access learning opportunities that provide the means for effective participation in society.
  • Participation in a learning society involves both rights and responsibilities for learners, providers, and those charged with the oversight of learning.
  • Because learning is social and sensitive to context, learning experiences should support interaction and the development of learning communities, whether social, public, or professional.
  • The development of a learning society may require significant changes in the roles, responsibilities, and activities of provider organizations and personnel as well as of the learners themselves.

  • Q.7. Elucidate on the types of distance education. Give Examples.
    Ans.  There are two distance education delivery system categories - synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous instruction requires the simultaneous participation of all students and instructors. The advantage of synchronous instruction is that interaction is done in "real time" and has an immediacy. Examples include interactive telecourses, teleconferencing and web conferencing, and Internet chats.
    Asynchronous instruction does not require the simultaneous participation of all students and instructors. Students do not need to be gathered together in the same location at the same time. Rather, students may choose their own instructional time frame and interact with the learning materials and instructor according to their schedules. Asynchronous instruction is more flexible than synchronous instruction but experience shows that time limits are necessary to main focus and participation. The self-paced format accommodates multiple learning levels and schedules. Examples of asynchronous delivery include e-mail, listservs, audiocassette courses, videotaped courses, correspondence courses, and WWW-based courses.
    The advantages of asynchronous delivery include student choice of location and time, and interaction opportunities among the students as well as the instructor. One disadvantage is that self paced instruction places a substantial burden on the student to maintain interest, focus, and pace. This motivation can be difficult to sustain.
    Types of Distance Learning:
    Distance learning is a modality - a broad, mixed category of methods to deliver learning. The types can be organized along several descriptive dimensions. Low tech to high tech is useful in the adult basic education field. Remember, however, that these individual types can be mixed into hybrid forms. The following table outlines the most popular types of distance learning by their characteristics and notable features.
    Notable Features
    Audio learning tool, very mobile and inexpensive when combined with print materials.
    Useful in language learning and practice as well as literature. Linear format.
    Videotape in VHS and DVD formats
    Visual and audio tool; the checkout approach with print materials is very popular in California.
    Multi-sensory tool with linear delivery format.
    Laptop computer checkout
    Versatile approach to providing a wide range of learning activities from skill and drill to simulations.
    Hardware is expensive and being replaced by less expensive Internet delivery.
    Mobile van / lab
    Resources taken to the learners, useful for work site learning and reaching parents at elementary schools. Van learning.
    Historically useful way to distribute videos, audiotapes, DVDs, and other learning tools, but it can be expensive to operate. It is less and less popular as distributed learning increases.
    Radio course
    Low cost way to reach ESL learners. Ideally it should be used by more learning providers.
    The radio course must include ways for learners to interact with the instructor. Phone call in during or after air time could be integrated into the programming.
    Delivery over television, usually a cable public access channel or school owned channel.
    The telecourse must include ways for learners to interact with the instructor. Phone call in is popular. Print materials accompany on-air instruction.
    Videoconference – Two way interactive video
    Electronic communications among people at separate locations. Can be audio, audio graphic, video or computer based.
    Often uses proprietary software and consequently expensive. Internet models and broadband communications are making it more affordable and accessible.
    Asynchronous text files and attachments.
    Good tool to stimulate learning, writing, and communications skills.
    Instructionally delivery over the Internet, either learning modules or entire courses.
    Instructional learning systems permit teachers to create, manage, communicate with, and test students online. The interactivity and ability to hyperlink to worldwide learning resources are extremely attractive. Improved broadband communications are enabling the effective use of video and synchronous communications.
    Chat and asynchronous communications facilitate links between the teacher and learner and among the learners.
    The medium for instructional delivery usually defines the type. It is generally assumed that print materials can and should be integrated with the other media.

    Q.10. Write short notes:

    Technology trends in distance education:

    Use technological advances to communicate faster, reduce paperwork and improve efficiency. Advances in technology have led to the birth of many new methods of electronic communication, such as social networking websites and video conferences. The increase in use of electronic communication has helped to eliminate time and distance as obstacles to communication. This has been beneficial to many parts of society, including business, education and international relationships.
    1.    Technological devices are becoming more versatile and ubiquitous.
    2.    There is a huge growth in internet usage.
    3.    Technological fluency is becoming a graduation requirement.
    Schoolnets can be defined as groupings of schools that use ICTs to support the education process, or agencies that facilitate and develop the use of ICTs in the education context. The word “school” refers to the participants, namely the schools in the primary and secondary education space. Schools generally consist of the teachers, students, families and the broader community, all of whom can benefit from the introduction of schoolnets. The word “net,” a shortened form of “network,” refers to the purpose of the initiatives. Most
    importantly, it is the network of people within the community of practitioners that collaborate for the purpose of enhancing teaching and learning.

    The concept of a “SchoolNet” (school network) has spread since the mid-1990s, when the Internet began to be used more widely in education. Individual definitions and activities of SchoolNets vary but a SchoolNet can be described, in general, as a network which is set up to support effective use of the information and communication technologies (ICT), particularly the Internet, for enhancing education, and for encouraging greater communication and co-operation among a network of schools.

    Rapid developments in ICT are bringing about significant economic and social changes. In this rapidly changing situation, schools must evolve accordingly and provide students with the skills they will require in this context. Schools must not only enable students to learn how to operate modern forms of ICT, they must also provide students with the opportunity to develop the information management and ICT-literacy skills required for effective participation in the emerging knowledge societies.

    The UNESCO SchoolNet project was initiated with the following objectives in mind:
    ·         To explore and demonstrate how ICT could be used in schools to improve the quality and reach of education so as to better prepare youth for the demands of knowledge societies.
    ·         To implement innovative models of ICT use in schools, and encourage better ICT-based teaching and materials development.
    ·         To improve connectivity and access to online educational resources, and to encourage sharing of resources.

    Country and Regional SchoolNets
    ·         European SchoolNet
    ·         European Schools Project
    ·         Indonesian SchoolNet
    ·         Malaysian SchoolNet
    ·         SchoolNet Canada
    ·         SchoolNet Namibia
    ·         SchoolNet Philippines
    ·         SchoolNet South Africa
    ·         SchoolNet Thailand
    ·         SchoolNet Zambia

    School networking in the Pacific Island States:
    An Environmental Scan and Plan for the Establishment of Schoolnets for the Pacific Island States –

    This is focused on the establishment and promotion of school networking agencies (schoolnets) in the Pacific island states. The Commonwealth of Learning, based in Vancouver, Canada, commissioned the study. The task comprises an environmental scan and feasibility study leading to a proposal for the development of school networking in the region.
    In recent years there has been an increased emphasis on the use of technology to address developmental concerns throughout the world. The education sector has attracted a large part of this attention, which is centred on the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to address teaching, learning and administrative needs. For the purposes of this report, information and communication technologies refer to computers, networks, the Internet, and broadcast and related technologies that enable information and communication flow and processing.

    The use of ICTs beyond technical and vocational development was initially promoted in the educational sector as a tool to support tertiary education. The extension of the use of ICTs into the primary and secondary education system followed, as practitioners saw the benefits of the various technologies.

    Schoolnets can be defined as groupings of schools that use ICTs to support the education process, or agencies that facilitate and develop the use of ICTs in the education context. The word “school” refers to the participants, namely the schools in the primary and secondary education space. Schools generally consist of the teachers, students, families and the broader community, all of whom can benefit from the introduction of schoolnets. The word “net,” a shortened form of “network,” refers to the purpose of the initiatives. Most
    importantly, it is the network of people within the community of practitioners that collaborate for the purpose of enhancing teaching and learning.
    In each of the countries under review, the following points were clearly evident:
    1. ICTs in the education sector are not a priority. Despite this, there was increased awareness of the need to introduce ICTs at all levels of the education system, and a willingness to participate in programmes to encourage their use.
    2. There is no formal Ministry/Department of Education policy for the use of ICTs at the
    administrative, teacher training or school level. Tonga appears closest to making this change.
    3. There is no formal Ministry/Department of Education personnel and resource allocations at any levels to implement ICTs, apart from some efforts in radio and television broadcast of educational material. In some cases, Education Ministries have acted as a channel in order for schools to receive donations of equipment from foreign donor and aid organisations.
    4. A small number of government, mission and private schools in each country, mostly at the secondary school level, have introduced ICTs at their own initiative. These schools are generally regarded as the best achieving and resourced schools in the individual countries.
    5. Schools that have implemented ICTs have done so in the form a computer lab, and not through computers in classrooms. There is normally a maximum of two labs, or 50 computers, in a school.
    6. Computers are used mostly to support the Pacific Senior Secondary Certificate subject of Computer Studies, with the additional lab capacity used for basic computer literacy. There is little evidence of the use ICTs to support teaching and learning across the broader curriculum.
    7. Only a very small percentage of schools with computers have access to the Internet, due to a lack of telephone lines or prohibitive costs.

    .Q.5.  Critically appraise the distance education evaluation in South Africa. What aspects from it have the Indian distance education has used?
    Already in late 1993 the then African National Congress (ANC) Education Department
    recognized the importance of open learning approaches and distance learning and
    requested the South African Institute for Distance Education (SAIDE) to organize an
    international commission to review the then current provision of distance education and
    to propose ways in which it could contribute to the realization of an open learning
    approach. The key providers of distance learning in South Africa were and still are

    In chapter 3 of the International Commission report the finding states that what in South
    Africa is called distance education is essentially correspondence education with very
    little assistance other than from study materials and examinations. It further states that
    students registered at UNISA, TSA and TECHNISA experience overwhelming failure.
    The report therefore recommended that UNISA, TSA and TECHNISA should rationalize
    their course offerings and reallocate resources in the interest of greater efficiency. It
    states “We recommend that these institutions participate in an organizational analysis to
    ascertain the nature of the contributions they can make to educational reconstruction and the development in democratic South Africa and the changes they would need to
    make to do so.”
    Specific Findings
    1. Concentration in one place – Centralisation.
    • Student support is not an integral part of teaching.
    • The absence of student support.
    • Brief visits by lecturers.
    • Turn around time of assignments too long.
    • Unavailability of lecturers by phone.
    • Lack of student-centred tutoring.

    • One of the key recommendations was that existing providers of Distance
    Education would have to:
    • Rethink their responsibilities.
    • Radically transform their internal organization.
    • Invest many more resources in supporting and servicing students.
    • Make sure that all providers have access to Learning Centres which should be the
    • focal point of student support.
    • A national coverage of Learner Centres would be needed, (ibid. p. xvii).

    In the 2003 research of the South African Institute of Distance Education (SAIDE), they
    found that there was a lack of understanding of the particular character of learner
    support in distance education. SAIDE is emphatic when it states learner support is not;
    • Simply individual counselling, or
    • Just administrative support, or
    • Is excluded from course design, and
    • Is an optional extra.

    Learner support is rather “Support available for every learner that directly affects
    his/her success and is part of the teaching and learning on the course.” (SAIDE, 2003)
    SAIDE also reported, specifically about UNISA and said about the institution:
    • They had low success in terms of completion and throughput rates.
    • There was still too much of a correspondence nature of programmes in
    comparison with well-functioning distance education.
    • There was inadequate learner support which is exacerbated by the lack of a
    coordinated regional network of learning centres. The very same would be true
    for TSA in 2003.
    Having studied the distance education evaluation in South Africa, the Indian distance education has used some of the aspects:
    1. Tutors form the core of learner support.
    2. The establishment of learning centres take the distance out of distance education.
    3. Various activities are provided through a variety of mediums through a range of
    support staff at a range of places at varying stages.
    4. Assignment marking and evaluation form the core of the assessment function.
    5. A close relationship exists between lecturer and tutor and the tutors
    contribution is valued by the institution.

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