Distance Learning (Tele–Education)

Distance Learning (Tele–Education)

Distance education or distance learning is the education of students who are not physically present at a school. Courses that are conducted partly through distance education and partly on-site are referred to as hybrid or blended education. Massive open online courses (MOOCs), offering large-scale interactive participation and open access through the World Wide Web or other network technologies, are recent developments in distance education. A number of other terms (distributed learning, e-learning, online learning, etc.) are used roughly synonymously with distance education.

The term open and distance learning reflects both the fact that all or most of the teaching is conducted by someone removed in time and space from the learner, and that the mission aims to include greater dimensions of openness and flexibility, whether in terms of access, curriculum or other elements of structure. The historical evolution of distance learning systems has been in four main phases. Open and distance learning systems can usually be described as made up of a range of components such as: the mission or goal of a particular system, programmes and curricula, teaching/learning strategies and techniques, learning material and resources, communication and interaction, support and delivery systems, students, tutors, staff and other experts, management, housing and equipment, and evaluation.

Sometimes open and distance learning is used for school-age children and youth that are unable to attend ordinary schools, or to support teaching in schools, both at primary and secondary level. However, most courses and programmers are targeted at the adult population. In developing countries in particular distance education for school equivalency is an important way of expanding educational opportunities to the adult population. Open schools that use a variety of media are of particular interest to high-population countries. Teacher training is an important area where open and distance learning has made a major contribution. This includes initial training for formal qualifications, in-service supplementary training for formal upgrading, and continuing in-service training in particular subjects and topics. Many examples, particularly from developing countries, show that teacher training at a distance may reach large groups of teachers and have profound impact on the development of national education systems. The use of open and distance learning for teacher education is therefore a crucial strategy when expansion or quality improvement is needed in the public education system. A common need in many countries is to upgrade teachersí knowledge and competence in using new ICTs, in particular the rich instructional and information resources available on the Web. In such cases it is also very appropriate to use the new technologies in the training programme for teachers. Both private and public providers have made important contributions to the development of industry and trade through programmes for technical and vocational education. Core purposes include the ability to respond flexibly to the need for working adults to obtain training, and to provide opportunities for those most disadvantaged by existing provision.

The capacity of open and distance learning to support large-scale campaigns, e.g. in the field of HIV/AIDS education, is significant in the context of continuing education and training. Non-formal education and community development represent other sectors where open and distance learning is increasingly used. Programmes at a distance often reach substantial numbers of women, in societies where women lack equal opportunities for participation in conventional forms of education and training. Open and distance learning approaches lend themselves to the teaching of many of the complex issues of the modern world, in which input from a variety of disciplines is necessary.

Distance education at the tertiary level shows a two-fold development pattern. On the one hand, numerous single mode open universities have EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 9 emerged to absorb large numbers of new learners, while, on the other hand, increasing numbers of traditional universities have begun to offer their programmes also through distance education. The development of new ICTs has reinforced this trend. Open and distance learning has the potential to generate new patterns of teaching and learning. Strongly linked with developments in information and communication technologies, it is close to the development of new learning needs and new patterns of information access and application and learning. There is evidence that it can lead to innovation in mainstream education, and may even have effects beyond the realm of education itself.

Open and distance learning therefore plays an especially decisive role in the creation of the global knowledge-based society. Present trends in open and distance learning It is more than ever clear that open and distance learning will be an important element of future education and training systems. It is approaching acceptance within mainstream education and training in such a way that it will make up part of the repertoire of most educational institutions in the future. The emergence of new forms of distance learning based on new information and communication technologies; in particular those supported by the Internet and using the World Wide Web, have significant pedagogical, economic and organizational implications. Furthermore, there is a significant trend towards intensifying globalization. Institutional and inter-governmental co-operation is increasing, and the global classroom has been realized in quite a number of projects, particularly in connection with emerging global communications networks. Governmental leadership concerning network development and access will be essential in this sphere. The regional overview shows great differences between all regions of the world, although there are also a number of similarities. Open and distance learning has existed for about one hundred years in the more developed regions and for one or two generations in the developing regions. In the high population countries of the developing world, open and distance learning has been seen to offer very significant opportunities for education and training. Lack of infrastructure and professional competence in open and distance learning remain important barriers. Nevertheless, these forms of educational delivery have come to stay, and many countries are looking at open and distance learning as a major strategy for expanding access, raising quality and ensuring cost-effectiveness.

In industrialized countries present trends are linked both to structural problems of education in modern society, and to technological development. The need to extend learning opportunities over the whole life span and the changing demands concerning mass education and the need for new skills represent challenges that are not easily met by conventional structures and institutions. Governments, industry and educational institutions are eager to develop effective applications of new technologies and at the same time meet the needs of learners. However, conventional ways of teaching continue to thrive, and the field shows a great variety of approaches to the implementation of new strategies, with varying success.


[1] Lederman, Doug (8 January 2013). "Growth for Online Learning".InsideHigherEd. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
[2] Tabor, Sharon W (Spring 2007). "Narrowing the Distance: Implementing a Hybrid Learning Model"

The author of this article is Asst. Professor Pioneer Institute of Professional Studies, Indore

Powered by Vivvo CMS from SIPL.NET