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Education without constraints of time and location

The context and structures of education are changing, and distance education is an integral part of that change.

Distance education is a method of teaching in which the students are not required to be physically present at a specific location during the term. Most often, regular mail is used to send written material, videos, audiotapes and CD-ROMs to the students. Nowadays, e-mail and the Web are used as well. Often students are required to come to meetings at regional offices on specific weekends, for example to take exams. Distance education is offered at all levels, but is most frequently an option for university-level studies.

Distance education in India

The Open and Distance Learning (ODL) System in the country has expanded, since the establishment of the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education in the University of Delhi in 1962. Now it comprises around 100 Correspondence Course Institutes (CCIs) and 10 single mode open universities. Programmes in widely diverse areas and at different levels are being offered to more than 2 Million (20 Lakh) learners, who constitute nearly 20 per cent of total enrolment in higher education. The annual growth of enrolment in ODL systems in the IX Plan Period has been 15 percent. In the Xth Plan (2002-2007), the ODL system is expected to grow at the rate of 20 - 30 percent. With this ODL will be able to share about 40 percent of total enrolment in higher education.

Reasons for the growing popularity of distance education

The reasons for the phenomenal rise in the number of people opting for distance education are many and varied.

First, as opposed to conventional education, the students are not bound by time and space. This allows people without a colourful financial background to work and study at the same time.

Second, distance education provides an option to many students who fail to make it to the colleges or universities of their choice due to one or the other reason.

Third, distance education helps many people who are already into a career to acquire an advanced degree that will result in increased salaries.

Fourth, its popularity can also be attributed to the wide range of courses it offers. Students can take up virtually every course under the sun ranging from Engineering to MBA to Nutrition and Health Education. What more, one can even complete doctoral courses through open learning!

However, before a student decides to enroll for a distance-learning course, she should see to it that the degrees/diplomas offered by the university/institute are widely recognized and accepted by the industry.

Distance learning is the education of the 21st century. The traditional method of teaching in a classroom called “brick and mortar” education has failed to reach millions of those who are thirsty for getting knowledge in an age marked by “Knowledge Revolution.” Take for example India where the last government census of 2001 showed that about 35% of the billion-plus population is still illiterate. The country will require 10,000 new schools each year and meeting the teaching needs on such a scale (by conventional methods) will be impossible. Distance education can, surely, go a long way in narrowing this huge divide between demand and supply.

List of Indian Open Universities

  • Indira Gandhi National Open University
  • Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University
  • Kota Open University
  • Nalanda Open University
  • Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University
  • Madhya Pradesh Bhoj (Open) University
  • Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University
  • Karnataka State Open University
  • Netaji Subhas Open University
  • U.P.Rajarshi Tandon Open University

List of some prominent institutes offering distance learning courses

AMITY School of Distance Learning

  • Symbiosis Centre for Distance Learning
  • School of Correspondence & Continuing Education, University of Delhi 
  • Institute of Distance Education, University of Mumbai
  • Prof. G. Ram Reddy Centre for Distance Education Osmania University, Hyderabad
  • National Law School of India, Bangalore        
  • Central Institute of English & Foreign Language, Hyderabad     
  • Directorate of Distance Education, Annamalai University
  • ICFAI Center for Distance Education, ICFAI University

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