EDUCATION TRIBUNE

Distance education must cater to masses
Shikha Soni
D
istance education is planned learning that occurs in a different place from teaching and as a result requires special techniques of course design, special instructional techniques, special methods of communication by electronic and other technologies as well as special organisational and administrative arrangements (Michael Moore, 1996).

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Distance education must cater to masses
Shikha Soni

Distance education is planned learning that occurs in a different place from teaching and as a result requires special techniques of course design, special instructional techniques, special methods of communication by electronic and other technologies as well as special organisational and administrative arrangements (Michael Moore, 1996).

Through this explanation it is now clear that distance education is also an important agent of education like conventional education but in a different fashion. And it is obvious that distance education is changing. The increase in the number of unemployed workers and their need to be re-trained has become one of the most important economic forces. To survive in today’s market, companies need to change, to and retrain their employees. Investing in human resources seems to be the only way for sustainable development.

And now distance education seems to be considered as one of the most adequate and attractive means to face these changes. The unique feature of distance education is its use of multi-media mix and student support services in the teaching/learning process.

It has been considered and defined as "a method of teaching in which there is no regular face-to-face relationship between the teacher and the taught but they are linked chiefly through correspondence (print media), radio, telephone or television."

Dr K. Venkatsubramaniam rightly said that "in the new millennium it is our duty to take education to the masses. Those days when children went to school where they could not continue for long have gone. Everyone wants to go up to college education. When normal education becomes distant, it is the distance education which has to fill the gap.

This type of education is also expected to bridge the existing gap between the educational structure and socio-economic structure. It means that through proper implementation of the real purpose of distance education, it can attract the masses. While every nerve of the body needs to be strained to raise the educational standards of schools and colleges in the country, part-time educational courses must be encouraged on a large scale, specially at the university stage for the benefit of those who are already employed in agriculture, industry as also other fields.

Of course, the new system ultimately envisages creating a net of community learning centre without any wall. This new scheme envisages clearly and correctly that this programme would cater to the everincreasing needs of those aspiring to enhance their qualifications. It also helps those learners who can pursue their studies during the hours and places convenient to them without any interference in their occupations/jobs.

It also enjoys the special advantage of providing ready references in the form of printed lectures and their is no likelihood of any missing link, which is possible in the case of regular college lectures.

Support Mechanism

Support systems which are available are mostly institutional-centred and not learner-centred. Some suggested steps to overcome the hurdles faced by the students supports system are:

In most institutions the medium of instruction is Hindi/English. Along with English and Hindi, we need to put our efforts in developing instruction material in local language. This will enable students from hilly areas, villages, etc to benefit.

The quality, content and style of printed material needs to be suitably changed and developed for the benefit of the student. Material should be developed in a way that provides a concrete, systematic and substantial basis to students to inculcate the habit of self-study, as these scripts are self-explanatory, self-illustrated and self-sufficient in the totality of their approach.

Distance education system also includes contact programme as an essential adjunct to the whole system of postal education. The contact classes help students get their doubts, difficulties clarified. The duration of contact classes must be increased from 20 to 30 days per year. Certain literature, tapes, special lectures may be arranged.

There is an urgent need for adoption of audio-visual aids as it is difficult for the institute to discharge its responsibility and to do justice to all items of the courses without the assistance of the new tools and techniques of teaching and learning.

Use of multimedia helps in the supply of concrete basis for conceptual thinking and, hence, help in better understanding and arouse high degree of interest in the students.

There is a need to prepare a need-based comprehensive package to address the question of open and distance education. There is a growing realisation that this type of educational intervention must be integrated with a variety of development objective through lifelong learning process. Open learning through distance mode has come to be accepted as well-recognised mode of education and training.

— The writer is Lecturer, Malwa Central College of Education
for Women, Ludhiana.


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