Open and Distance Learning system:
Let us first of all understand what is meant by Open and Distance Education.
An open education system in the negative sense would mean less number of restrictions with regard to place of study, attendance, duration of study.
In the positive sense it means more flexibility in terms of time, place etc. enabling those learners who would not have been able to complete their studies to do so without having to quit their jobs or being able to complete studies while shouldering a host of other responsibilities and commitments.
A distance education programme permits the separation of the learners from the campus and allows them to complete their studies staying far away from the main University/Institute campus.
The needs of a distance learner are quite different from that of a conventional learner. Each distance learner is different and the group is heterogeneous in nature. Also each distance learner usually studies in isolation being far removed from the other learners. There are some opportunities for the distance learners to come into direct face to face contact with other learners and teachers or counselors at the study centres at the time of the first Induction meeting, Counselling sessions or practical sessions or compulsory contact programmes or workshops which are for a fixed duration. Every learner must make every effort to make it convenient to attend these sessions, although it may be optional to attend, as it may prove to be beneficial in their journey of learning.
The use of ICTs is another boon for distance learning and it is also possible to have synchronous communication with the use of the latest technologies. But there are some hurdles in the use of ICTs and Computer aided learning because of inaccessibility caused by many factors like shortage of electricity, lack of infrastructure or faults in the technical systems and lack of trained manpower, financial constraints etc. Yet, the technological revolution is spreading very fast and we may hope that this problem of accessibility will not last long.
IGNOU relies very heavily on the print material which is specially prepared. Complete set of material is sent to each learner. The other multi media learning materials can be accessed by interested learners at the study centres or the Regional Centres. Nowadays it is also to access materials from the website and many urban and other learners having access to computers and the internet are making use of materials which have been uploaded on the web.
The Assignment component is a very important pedagogical/teaching tool and is a means of Continuous assessment which is very important in making the learner know exactly what his position is in relation to his studies. Navigating through the study material and preparing the assignment responses helps an individual learner like you to go through the studies and prepare for the term end examinations. The assignments are a test of how well you have understood the content given and helps you to apply whatever you have learnt. As each learner brings his own set of experiences along with him, his understanding of the subject matter increases when s/he tries to blend the theory that is given with the experiences that he already has. The evaluated assignment responses enable the learner to know his strengths and helps boost his morale and confidence. Your weaknesses and shortcomings are also indicated helping you to improve upon your performance at the final examination and to score good grades.
Counselling sessions are scheduled at each study centre and an academic counselor who is an experienced teacher of the subject in the conventional system of education gives of her/his time for the benefit of the distance learners. Although attendance at counseling sessions is not mandatory, it is in the interest of the learners to attend and derive maximum benefit from the interaction with other peer learners and the teachers. To make a counseling session interactive and interesting is the prime responsibility of learners themselves.
It is therefore in the hands of you, the learners to keep up the motivation level and derive the maximum benefit from the study centre host institution and the counselors while your programme of study is ongoing. This will last you a lifetime and help you to enhance your skills and learning. Enjoy learning!