Distance education is a field of education whose principles and methods of instruction system are designed to deliver education to students who are not physically present in the classroom. Instead of attending courses in person, teachers and students may communicate at times of their own choosing by exchanging printed or electronic media, or through technology that allows them to communicate in real time and through other online ways. It is also known as Distance Learning. Distance education courses that require a physical on-site presence for any reason including the taking of examinations is considered to be a hybrid or blended course of study.
There are various types of technologies that are used in distance education
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Distance Education Courses
Distance Learning Courses in India are increasingly becoming popular due to easy availability and low fee cost of these courses. Low Cost makes the distance learning institutes serve a very important cause by enabling the less advantaged sections of the society to pursue higher education of their choice. There a variety of Degree Courses, Certificate Courses, PG Diploma Courses and Diploma Courses offered by Distance Education. The courses offered at distance learning Institutes in India may vary from state to state. Distance learning institutes offer Bachelor, Masters as well as doctoral degree courses in a number of disciplines such as Arts, Education, Commerce, Science, Business Management and Library & Information Science among others. Students can also pursue Advanced Diploma, Diploma, PG Diploma and Certificate courses at various institutes offering distance learning. Among the most popular degree courses through distance learning is the Master of Business Administration (MBA). Other degree programs include M.A (History, Sociology, Political Science, Social Science, Philosophy, and Psychology); M.Sc, M.Com and several others.
Distance Education Admissions
Admissions to the distance learning courses are done by the individual institutes. The mode of distance education admissions of these institutes may vary. While some of the institutes conduct entrance examinations, others may make the admission procedure simpler. Although the academic year in most institutes start in January and June, the dates of distance education admissions to various courses vary.
Distance Education Universities and Institutes in India
The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), of Distance Learning in India is the leader when it comes to Distance education as it was established primarily to provide distance education to less advantaged sections of the society. Of the 1.5 million students of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), lots of enrollment comes from rural areas. But these distance-learning courses are equally popular in the urban areas as the correspondence courses are helping them to improve their career options or engage in other important activities. There are a number of open universities in India that provide distance education for those who are interested in taking up professional courses or any other educational course of their interest. Moreover there are more than 54 distance learning institutes in India that cater to the needs of higher education in India. Some Institutes and Universities offering Distance Education in India are -
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University
Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University
Indira Gandhi National Open University
Kota Open University
Nalanda Open University
Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University
Madhya Pradesh Bhoj (Open) University
Karnataka State Open University
Netaji Subhas Open University
U.P.Rajarshi Tandon Open University
School of Correspondence & Continuing Education, University of Delhi
Institute of Distance Education, University of Mumbai
International Centre for Distance Education& Open Learning, HP University, Shimla
Directorate of Distance Education, Kamraj University,Madurai
School of Distance Education, University of Calicut
Department of Correspondence Studies , Punjab University, Chandigarh
Distance Education Testing and Evaluation
Distance education has been in controversy over Testing and Evaluation. Though the delivery of testing materials is simple and straight, which makes sure it is available to the student so that it can be read at leisure. But the problem Area is the methods that may have been used by the students to complete assignments and testing. Because of the lack of teacher control, online courses have difficulty controlling cheating in quizzes, tests, or examinations. In a normal classroom a teacher can monitor students and visually uphold a level of integrity consistent with an institution's reputation. However, with distance education the student can be free from supervision completely. Some schools address integrity issues concerning testing by requiring students to take examinations in a controlled setting.
As a result the Assignments have become larger, longer, and more thorough so as to test for knowledge by forcing the student to research the subject and prove they have done the work. Quizzes are a popular form of testing knowledge and many courses go by the honour system regarding cheating. Even if the student is checking questions in the textbook or online, there may be an enforced time limit or the quiz may be worth so little in the overall mark that it becomes inconsequential.
A combination of invigilators, a pre-arranged supervisor trusted with overseeing big tests and examinations may be used to increase security. Many Midterms and Final examinations are held at a common location so that professors can supervise directly.Many distance education websites are also offering secure exam software and packages to help teachers manage their students more effectively. Distance Education Abroad
For those who want to pursue higher education from a Foreign University, Distance learning abroad, like other online colleges and universities, has become an excellent alternative to formal education. The Because of these courses the whole process of acquiring a degree from a foreign University has thus become less tedious. For those who require to travel a lot, distance education from abroad has made it possible for them to continue their studies. Another advantage of International Distance Education is that it has made available quality education to all at much lower cost. Accessing quality education by being physically present in the class would have not been possible for many because of the expenses involved. Thus the availability of the distance learning courses from abroad has helped a lot of people in the developing countries to fulfill their educational ambitions. Moreover the system of International Distance Education has also made it possible to pursue a course that is not available in the country where he or she is residing. Thus the choice of the learner's have increased significantly because of these distance learning courses from abroad.
The most Preferred Countries for Distance Education
Suggestions / Steps / Measures before opting for Evaluating Distance Education
Mostly, college or university certificates have more weightage as compared to courses offered by a technical school or professional organizations. It is important therefore to determine the reputation of the technical school or professional organizations
It is also important to find out the level of credentials available for a particular course, such as college credits or professional development continuing education units.
Try and search for those students who had taken the course before, wherever they might be enlisted and contact them to get a general impression of the institute
Certain website have testimonials given by other students. It is an effective way to find out about the course and the institute, from the reactions of former students. To get a more objective testimonial, you might try an Internet search on the course and the provider to see if anyone is commenting.
Evaluate courses from several providers for content, length of time needed for completion, level of course (e.g.., introduction, intermediate, advanced), type of technology used or delivery platform and extra materials you may need to purchase.
Institute websites often have profiles and bio of the instructors which can give you an idea on his background in the field of study, his experience, teaching along with special degrees and credentials.
Evaluate all of the materials used for the course. Determine if the materials are written by the instructor and if the course uses a commercial book or a textbook. Look for ratings and reviews of the materials used.
Going through the History or About Us, Section reveals statistics on courses that indicate how long the course has been offered, how many people have successfully completed it, who developed it, duration of the course and it's updation
Review the mission, vision, learning objectives and outcome to make sure they match your individual learning needs.
Price shop if all other factors such as the reputation of the provider, the professionalism of the instructor and materials, dates and times and delivery platforms of the class are equal. Register for the course with the best price.
Suggestions / Steps / Measures - During and After Completing Distance Education
Providing a complete and subjective evaluation of the program after completion serves as an impetus towards the redesigning or improving that a particular course
It is important to Fill out evaluations every time one is requested throughout the course. Some online courses cover several weeks, months or years. Course evaluations should be distributed at every stage of long-term courses. Take the time to complete the evaluations and feedback forms.
Note down all the possible shortcomings and evaluate the course, the materials or the instructor based on the course itself rather than the problems you may have had with your own technology.
Include feedback on the helpfulness of the online course provider on your completion evaluation. If you experienced good customer service and were able to email or talk to someone on the phone when needed, let the provider know you had a good experience.
Let the course provider or the instructor know your overall feelings about learning online or otherwise in general. Ask yourself if you learned what you needed and if would've learned more in an actual classroom. This lets education providers know where they should spend their time and money in programming development.
There are advantages and there are disadvantages of Distance Education. For some people the advantages of distance education weigh more than disadvantages or weigh more than a traditional setup where as it is the other way around for some. One can compare the advantages and disadvantages of Distance Education over traditional learning and decide which one is right. The decision to further one's education through Distance Education is an important one. Education whether Distance or Traditional helps to broaden your skill set and increase your employment opportunities. Whether one takes a Traditional Approach or Distance Approach, it is important that one should commit fully to it, in order to realise it's full potential.