The recent trends in distance education are Mobile Learning (M-Learning) and Open Education Resources (OER). In simple terms the M-Learning denotes that the learning takes place when the learner is moving all the time and not in a fixed place or at a pre- determined place and the learner takes advantage of educational and learning choices available through mobile communication technologies. M-Learning concentrates on the mobility of the learner, how he is negotiating with portable technologies. M-Learning also focus on how society and its institutions can accommodate and support an increasingly mobile population and it is available at any place to the individual. M-learning not only helps in teaching learning process, it is useful for student support too. As an example, IGNOU has implemented SMS alert facility whereby all important notifications, news, bulletins etc are texted to the learners.
Open Education Resources (OER) are the digital materials that can be re-used by individuals for teaching, learning, research and made available free and they are not covered under copy right regulations. They exist in public domain and they are released under intellectual property license, which allows their free use by others. Open Education Resources (OER) is a major educational movement by the like minded individuals and institutions in the world, who want to provide free digital content in many forms for its re-use, refinement and by others. IGNOU has recently implemented OER policy and thus under its Wiki, OER are being developed, uploaded as a means of resource sharing. See some FAQs regarding distance education in India:
Q. 1. Any new programmes from IGNOU in the recent times?
Answer: IGNOU is offering many new academic programmes which are socially enabling and empowering the community. Some of the Master’s Programmes and PG Diploma Programmes in this category are Social Work, Participatory Development, Women and Gender Development Studies, Extension and Development Studies and M.Sc. in Counseling and Family Therapy. Another important bunch of Programmes offered in collaboration with – ICSI, ICWAI & ICAI – IGNOU is offering three B.Com and three M.Com programmes for the exclusive benefit of the professionals with the background of Company Secretary, Cost-Works Accountants and Chartered Accountants professionals. These are tailor made programmes suitable for these professionals.
Q. 2. Changes in mode of admissions for any courses?
Answer: Online admission facility is provided for most of the programmes of IGNOU which do not have Entrance Test.
Q. 3. What are the most demanding programmes in IGNOU?
Answer: The most demanding programmes of IGNOU includes MBA, B.Ed., MCA, Nursing, IT and Degree Programmes. Health Sciences programmes are also in good demand being job and special skills oriented.
Q. 4. What programmes are attracting students?
Answer: Most of the popular programmes are Management (MBA), Computers (MCA), Education (B.Ed. & M.Ed.), English (MA), Nursing (B.Sc-N) and followed by traditional degree programmes like BA, B.Com., BLIS. Among the certificate programmes, Information Technology, Laboratory Techniques, Functional English and Health and Nutrition.
Q.5. How students can get most of the benefits from distance courses?
Answer: The students can reap good benefits by doing programmes as “add-on programmes” simultaneously with their regular programmes when they are in Colleges and Universities. Those who are employed they keep doing the career relevant programmes for their upward mobility in the organization and shifting to a new job in the job market. They are advised to remain in touch with their peer and tutors and the university. It is always a good strategy to consult extra books for extra knowledge. They must reflect on their learning.
Q. 6. How far pursuing professional courses through distance mode is beneficial to candidates?
Answer: Pursuing Professional programmes like Post-Basic B.Sc- Nursing, B.Ed., & M.Ed. through distance mode, which are having more practical component and compulsory attendance are planned and delivered to the students by scheduling the Workshops and Practical’s during the vacations and also by providing the hostel facility wherever possible to make their stay comfortable at the Study Centers. Once they complete any of the IGNOU professional programmes the students got jump in their salaries, promotions and recognitions in the job market and in the society. There are number of instances of the students who completed Nursing programmes and Teacher Training Programmes, in support of our claim that the students who completed professional programmes, got the better jobs in their career and increase in their salary.
Q. 7. Why dropouts are high in distance courses? Any change in recent times?
Answer: The dropouts in distance education are little high because of the in-built flexibility in to the distance education programmes. Because Open Universities give more time duration to complete any programme of study. For a three year degree programme we give six years to complete. The maximum duration is given to complete because, most of the learners are having other commitments like job and family responsibilities. Finding adequate time to complete a programme is always a challenge to the distance learners. The students who better manage the time complete the programmes in time. Because of these reasons there is no change in the recent past and the situation is more or less the same. To be frank the dropout rate in the professional programmes is very less because of the job oriented nature of the professional programmes.
Q. 8. Are there any placements for distance courses? What are that courses and how they are placed?
Answer: Placements are there and they are dependent on market forces. Teacher Training programmes, Nursing, Management, IT Services and Social Sectors offer good opportunities for placements. IGNOU has a placement cell to guide the needy and provides job information services to the students.
E-Learning and Mobile Learning have made the delivery of Distance Education Programmes easy. They increased the accessibility to a wider section at different locations and in different time zones, thus breaking the barriers time and place to increase their reach. Many Universities are using and converting their course ware in to Open Education Resources (OER) and making them available to the needy who are not able to afford fee or time constraints. The distance education is a good option for a career oriented people who want to improve their qualifications without leaving their job. It offers cost effective career solutions to the individual. Entrance of foreign universities and thus offering skill based and career oriented courses in partnership are getting attention. Online education has made it easy to earn a hiqh quality degree without moving to greater distances.