For over a decade, students have been engaging in distance education – IGNOU being a prime example of the kind. Through distance education, a student can pursue his or her higher education whilst also fulfilling other responsibilities, be it work or homebound. This option makes learning possible although being situated in a different geographical location. Hence, the student may not be physically present in the institution but, by corresponding with the institution, can attain a diploma for the same. Earlier, the post was the means of communication but nowadays, online methods are more adept.
There are different modes of distance education, some of which are listed below –
- Synchronous distance learning
- Asynchronous distance learning
- Hybrid distance learning
- Electronic learning
- Fixed time online courses
- Correspondence learning
These modes of education are an immense help to those who are genuinely unable to participate in a full-time course and wish to learn either way. Please note, distance education is different from that of an open school (where the latter, although not having a fixed definition as such can be understood as having a central focus of “needs of the learner as perceived by the learner.
Now although distance education continues to function, does it receive the same value as it did all those years ago? According to recent concerns, this question is a little tricky. There can be two reasons for this. One, being awarded a diploma should not equate to that of a degree so as to be fair to those who do attend classes on an everyday basis, and two, how much can you learn from within the four walls of your home?
This is precisely why the UGC (University Grants Commission) has made a few changes to this realm of education. Again, however, does that nullify the efforts of those who have been a part of or are a part of this option of distance learning education? Again, we’re unsure.
One such statement made by the UGC was regarding MPhil and PhD degrees. The UGC believes that such degrees should not be awarded over distance as the “research courses in distance mode were of poor quality” (2015). What does that leave students who are compelled to engage in such forms of education with?
Another decision that has upset the management of institutions offering distance education (more than upsetting students) is that distance education can only be conducted by Universities or deemed to be universities. All other institutions will not be recognised by the UGC, making their certificates null and void (2015).
However, after a certain amount of protestation, the UGC has agreed to relax its norms provided open universities strictly adhere to all the provisions of the UGC Regulations.
Although this relaxation does give hope to some students, others will always be fearful of their efforts going waste. Hopefully, in the near future, a focused set of provisions will give students more confidence in the course of their choice.
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