New Face of Education---Your Time, Your Space
Gone are the days when one needed to sit in a class at an institute for long hours, listening to a million words that seemed monotonous or those instances when one needed to study at a given time no matter what even though the mind never really wanted to cram all the pages lying in front. Today is a new age where individual freedom and preferences matter the most for each and every one of us. It’s the age where practical knowledge is valued much more than simple theory. An age where you have the choice to do what you want more so in the field of education. Thanks to the advent of Distance Education and premier institutions in this field like the Sikkim Manipal University who value students choice more than anything else, the field of education in India has turned better. But is it not the same Distance Education mode which until a decade back critics and experts alike, scorned at or were ever so ready to give it a thumbs down? Surprisingly it’s the same critics who have had to change their opinions due to the lack of a future vision on their part in this field. Today as our country with more than half of its population in the age bracket of 20-30 years strives hard to increase literacy levels, the HRD (Human Resource Development) ministry accepts the huge role of Distance Education towards making India literate. How did it all happen? Firstly, Distance Education is not the same as it was a decade back. It has changed immensely thanks mainly to the positive efforts of many dedicated institutions like Manipal. Secondly, these institutions filled the gap between teachers and students which regular colleges left wide open mostly due to complacency on their part. Let’s take Sikkim Manipal University (SMU-DE, www.smude.edu.in) as an example since its country’s foremost Distance Education provider and possibly the best with more than 3 lakh students on its rolls. SMU-DE is UGC recognised and is also a member of Association of Indian Universities (AIU). Close to 40 programs are on offer currently, ranging from diploma to graduate and also post graduate courses. Most importantly all the courses are based heavily on technical and practical knowledge with grounding on theory thus covering all aspects needed in today’s corporate setting. But what SMU-DE has done most commendable is in ensuring that quality does not suffer in distance education mode. SMU-DE has developed EduNxt, the next generation online learning platform. This state of the art system available to all SMU-DE students allows for online discussion with faculty for course related doubts, industry professionals for job openings and careers, counselling, video presentations of lectures and an online library with over 1 million books. As a result of these features it has also won 2 awards in the ICT category making SMU-DE ‘ICT enabled university of the year’. All of this a student can access from anywhere and at any time. Add to that over 700 SMU-DE authorised Learning Centres across the country that make sure students get all the practical training needed based on each course. And of course the options of e-mail and online video chatting are also available. All this adds up to a huge advantage for students. Courses that are better with more practical expertise, you get a UGC recognized degree; can study even while working from anywhere plus the reputation that SMU-DE enjoys in the industry. It’s no wonder then that Distance Education mode is becoming more popular by the day and career wise it only increases one’s prospects. While it’s near impossible to go to a regular college and work at the same time, here you can do both without any hassles thus always staying ahead than a regular college attendee since you have the work experience. With technology and educational tools getting merged seamlessly, it’s only a matter of time before the Distance Education mode takes over regular colleges in terms of their acceptance amongst students. It will be only apt when that happens. After all students are the future of a country and they need to be career ready and not just book worms.