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Monday, January 14, 2002

IGNOU tele-learning centres in region soon
Peeyush Agnihotri

"IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University) tele-learning centres (TLCs) are to come up very soon in this region. One would be in Chandigarh and another in one of the major cities of Punjab. Right now the nearest one is in Delhi," Dr Umesh Chander Pandey, Regional Director, IGNOU regional centre, Khanna, told Login Tribune. Pandey (35), who is a doctorate in Physics (he has researched on Solar nutrino puzzle, precisely) and an M.Phil in environmental sciences, is probably one of the youngest regional directors that the university has today.

Dr Umesh Chander Pandey
Dr Umesh Chander Pandey

IGNOU needs no introduction. Rather it has become synonymous with the distance mode of education and is an institution that is using the latest technologies and concepts like video-teleconferencing, the Internet and TLCs. Recently, a satellite dish has also been installed at the Chandigarh study centre for educational purposes. The centre, along with other study centres of Punjab, earlier attached to Karnal, has been affiliated to the regional centre at Khanna created nearly 10 months ago.

Why Khanna? "IGNOU did not have much choice in the matter. As per the collaboration between the university and the Punjab Government, the land was to be provided by the state, which they did in Khanna, a small town on G.T. road that is touted as the Asia's biggest grain market," the director says.


Right now, the university offers five courses on Information and Technology (IT) - Master in Computer Applications (MCA), Bachelor in Computer Applications (BCA), Bachelor in Information and Technology (BIT), Advanced Diploma in Information Technology (ADIT), and Certificate in Computing (CIC).

Though sources assert that some more IT-related diploma courses are under active consideration and may materialise during this academic year, Dr Pandey says that no new IT course would be started this year. He, however, doesn't associate this decision of the university with the slump in the IT sector. "The courses are designed by our School of Computer and Information Sciences and till this date I do not have any official information about it," he says.

Earlier, for CIC and BCA tele-conferencing facilities were being provided along with Internet mode of delivery. The scheme was scrapped as it just found a few takers. "We now provide guidance through two modes - integrated mode wherein students visit study centres for guidance and can also chat with experts on the Net. The other mode is the virtual campus mode for BIT and ADIT courses. The student need not go to the study centre but can learn through the Internet at TLCs," Pandey says.

"The virtual campus attempts to bring learning in a way that gives greater control to the learner. It, therefore, also entails additional responsibilities. The student has to be much more proactive in terms of seeking information, setting targets and goals. In addition, it is technology driven and the instructional design is somewhat at variance from the traditional teaching and examination style," he says.

For BIT and ADIT courses IGNOU has entered into collaboration with Edexcel Foundation, UK. The university also provides guidance through Gyandarshan, a programme on Doordarshan for which the university has a tie-up with Prasar Bharati and Ministry of Human Resources and Development.

"Students prefer to join IGNOU courses because of low fee structure, well-laid out infrastructure and government's recognition. Going by the recent frauds in IT courses by some private companies students are wary. IGNOU courses are recognised by the UGC and all Indian and international universities besides prestigious agencies like Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver, Canada," Pandey asserts.

However, Pandey agrees that results of some students are being delayed at study centres under his jurisdiction due to late checking of assignments. "Everything should go according to set deadlines. I am going to sort this out on a priority basis," he assures.