Distance Learning – The most viable medium for study today

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Education has and will always remain the most vital necessity in a world governed by capitalist values. Whether it’s basic, intermediate or higher forms of education, the very importance of it with regards to survivability in a corporate society stands widely recognized and accepted. However increasing population and the subsequent demand to provide education for all has hit a rough patch due to practical reasons. It’s impossible to construct thousands of schools and colleges and equip them with supporting infrastructure to cater to the ever increasing population. Under such circumstances the challenge for most developing countries remains in providing education for all. This is where distance education comes in and is the only viable medium available for study today.

Distance education as we know refers to distance learning that involves learning at one’s own time and pace. Over the last few years this mode of education has made tremendous progress thanks to technology and dedicated institutes offering courses at par with any regular college. Moreover students can avail these courses anytime from anywhere. Take the case of India as an example. Out of a population of 1.2 billion, more than half a billion are in the age group of 18-30 years. Barring a few lakhs, the rest will not get seats at any institute since we have the infrastructure to educate only a few lakhs every year in regular colleges. So what do the rest of them do? Surely then can’t wait another year as by then a new bunch of individuals will add up. Distance education is the only answer.

In distance education mode lies the real future of education. Scores of students can avail this and so can on the job people who want to increase their degrees or skill sets. Courses are relatively less expensive as compared to regular colleges thus giving opportunity for economically weaker segments of the population to avail the same. Breakthrough technologies in the field of distance education Like EduNxt by Sikkim Manipal University has only added to the academic rigor and interactivity of courses offered in this mode thereby negating two most voiced concerns by industry professionals in the past. As a result of these developments industry professionals now recognize professionals who have done distance education gleefully. Gaining work experience while studying is a vital add-on which is only possible through this mode. Add to that the nature of different courses that can be offered. Apart from regular courses, working class can go in for development of specific skill sets as needed in the concerned industry leaving out aspects which will never be needed in their career. Presently in India we have Sikkim Manipal University, Symbiosis and IGNOU as the most prominent institutes offering distance education. However, IGNOU is often the last preference as their courses are at a basic level with minimal emphasis on skill sets. Symbiosis suffers from a lack of interactivity between students and faculty. Sikkim Manipal University-Distance Education programmes (SMU-DE, www.smude.edu.in ) leads the wave in this field with their range of courses, practical training and EduNxt platform that has virtually erased problems of interactivity between students and faculty. As distance education continues to grow better and stronger, future technologies will seamlessly integrate distance and education making the whole process even better and easier. On the cusp of a new era of acceptance and recognition, nations are realizing its importance in driving out illiteracy and arming future generations with the required professional expertise. The Ministry of Human Resource and Development, India (HRD) has openly voiced its support in favour of distance learning. The day is not far when other countries will also follow suit. With the sole motive of imparting education to one and all without any barriers, we are now staring at a future of well informed and trained professionals who can take on the mantle for a brighter tomorrow.

SMUDE (talk)00:47, 15 June 2010