TODAY -

Is Distance Dead - In Education?

Ananya S Guha *



Reflecting on education today especially in the Indian context one is actually amazed at the sea changes that have taken place or are taking place. One is of course the advent and increasing popularity of Distance and Open education, which addresses problems like one time failure, discontinuity of studies, education for adults, training and being upgraded in one's work place and alternating work and studies. In fact the world of work and the world of learning are very intricately and intimately connected, today.

Let me look at my generation. I did my higher studies in the 1970s and the 1980s. For a person to be doing graduation or post graduation in his or her thirties was opprobrium, meant to be laughed at cynically. Today it is an honour, in fact the older you are in pursuing any form of studies the more recognizable is. This reversal of attitudes and the attitudinal change inherent in such actions or intrepidity gets rid of the former animadversion of studying at an older age.

Distance Education has made this possible for inclusive education even for the differently abled such as the visually or hearing impaired. Mind you Distance Education is not only studying at the classic 'distance' but integrates the new with the old, integrating in its features not only study texts, technology but also such modes of learning with direct classroom teaching, in the process extending the classical class room.

The class room is multiplied by the use of study texts, audio visuals, tele-learning, the internet and face to face interaction. This is a clever use of tradition and modernity, as the average learner suffers from 'class room' hangover. Secondly a positive and welcome sign is that the degree 'bias' is gradually being attenuated. This has been done by introducing short term certificate, awareness or diploma programmes. Open Universities have contributed in no small measure, in order to subvert convention and prototypes.

Thirdly there is a threat to education: its commodification. Distance Education Institutions can charge exorbitant fees and these are a threat to quality education, or even if there is quality there can be limited accessibility. The economics of distance education rests on sustaining costs, by making them cost effective by doing away with recurring costs and remaining with one time costs, and minimum recurring costs at the same time reaching out to as large numbers of learners as possible.

Fourthly the innovative paradigm shift in education is the use of the web, the internet which simulates a class room and makes it conventional teaching. Yet it is also distance education - so once again, the old and the new are combined in refreshing ways.

Yet is distance dead? I am not sure. Maybe it is half dead! I wouldn't like to repeat Negroponte's hype. I end on such a facetious note, but not without the conviction of the exciting challenges and possibilities of education today.

The emergence of online education and e-learning have attenuated distances and narrowed the gap between the teachers and taught in cyber space. However, the question is whether the personalized touch of classroom teaching or course material in Distance Education prepared in a personalized and student friendly manner can still be substituted by only online learning which can be impersonal and stoic.

Cyber teaching of course has its advantages of covering global spaces and making teaching both synchronous and asynchronous, that is teaching and learning at the same time as well as out of it. For example, if the teacher communicates with the student by email then such communication can touch borders of friendliness and be more students centric. The point is that teaching and learning are taking more sophisticated forms and those who are tech literate or better still tech savy stand to greater advantages.

But the four walls of a classroom are always sacrosanct and even an e-learning there is an attempt to simulate a classroom so that students still have illusions that they are physically present in one! Distance Education however, at its best and finest is blended learning where both traditional and non traditional pedagogies are combined judiciously and effectively.

If we are to go to the maxim that distance is dead in education then we are only thinking of web based learning which is not accessible to all in a country like India. No matter how much we talk about such technology based learning and how 'easy' it is the grinding fact is that factors like electricity, power supply and even the limitations of service providers are harsh realities.

The isolated learner is the learner who has been cut off from studying for a long period of time, maybe because of economic and social factors, maybe also because of dropping out at some point in time. Again, the isolated learner is the one who stays in remote areas geographically and physically insulated from the larger world around him or her.

Distance then can be reduced by technology but 'killing' it in third world contexts, why even for that matter in developing nations where learners or prospective learners can still feel isolated because of inaccessibility to higher education, seems a remote impossibility.


* Ananya S Guha wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
The writer is OSD, IGNOU Institute for Vocational Education & Training (IIVET), Shillong
This article was posted on April 28, 2013



* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.


LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Marangwon at @Mt Khorung #3 : Gallery
  • Police Day Marathon #1: Gallery
  • I call it life :: Poem
  • International day for Disaster reduction
  • Contested territorial demands in Manipur
  • WhatsApp & mobile usage study results
  • Physics Programme in Nowgong College
  • Rejoinder to NDPP [15 October]
  • Stop bluffing Nagas
  • The state of the states
  • Gearing up for Oct 31 rally
  • Historical Evaluation of Puya Meithaba #4
  • MU: Student/police clash -10 Oct #2: Gallery
  • X-Jam -Extreme Sports & Music festival
  • Urban Local Govt in Mizoram :: Book
  • 3 perspectives in context of present Manipur
  • Figures in the Shadows :: Poem
  • To UNC, Zomi Council, Hmar Inpui on ST
  • HC acted in good faith for MU
  • Jarnail Singh @ MU : Gallery
  • Chawailokpa, Chaong, Charaibi :: eMing
  • Heikru Hidongba #3 : Gallery
  • The undeniable subtlety of Atingkok
  • Kuki Black Day: desperation to Nagas #1
  • Let me shower moonlight :: Poem
  • On allegations issued by NPF : NDPP
  • Challenges to the digital dreams
  • Eyes now on K Yugindro
  • Lamyanba Irabot- March Past #3: Gallery
  • Death Anniv - Bhagyachandra #2 : Gallery
  • Meetei Tribe wont grab land of Hill Tribes
  • Making a tangible difference
  • Contradicted journey of IPC Section 377
  • Free open defecation & open pee
  • Act East & Importance of Myanmar & NE
  • Vacancies at Multimind Software
  • Waiting for "Sorry"
  • Out Yugindro in Jarnail Singh
  • Mera Chaorel Houba #1 : Gallery
  • AMAND Pune: Cultural evening : Gallery
  • Management Convergence at Mizoram Univ
  • Observation of World Mental Health Day
  • Cry of a Dying River - 49 :: Poem
  • Buddhism is free from compulsion...
  • 7th AGM / Cultural evening of AMAND, Pune
  • Forsaken farmers - food for thought
  • Second police raid at MU
  • NESO opposes Indo-Nepal Treaty in NE
  • British Council, NEC sign MoU
  • MU: Student/police clash -10 Oct #1: Gallery
  • Death Anniv - Bhagyachandra #1 : Gallery
  • Anglo-Kuki War 1917-1919
  • University :: Poem
  • Remembering class boycott 2009-2010
  • Hair stylist as career option #2
  • Training of Trainers on Gender Justice
  • Manipur University fresh violence by police
  • MU Crisis- admissions and omissions
  • Issues besetting State before LS polls
  • Langban Heitha Leithaba #2 : Gallery
  • Sizo Festival @Saikot : Gallery
  • Opening of Moreh-Tamu Border Gate
  • Forest Cover of Nagaland :: Book Review
  • Ingocha Chingtham: Cycling from Mumbai ..
  • Blood Transfusion service- future in Manipur
  • IT Enabled Employment Generating Course
  • NDPP condemns statement of NPF
  • Beyond the reality
  • Need for MUTA to approach Court
  • Kang Tournament @Kongba #2: Gallery
  • Elangbam Sonamani : Sahityaratna 2017
  • Celebrating the rights of wildlife- Are we
  • The sky's gone wonderful :: Poem
  • Communal Harmony and Integration
  • Opportunity for India in Indo-Pacific Region
  • To be a good man
  • Education : Why no private players here ?
  • Tarpon Sonba : Gallery
  • mtM :: Seireng
  • MN Singh promoted as IG of CBI felicitated
  • Loktak from different perspectives #2
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • The Journey of Happiness :: Poem
  • A personal discourse of Manipuri people
  • Improper use of loud speakers in Manipur
  • Art Exhibition @Art College #3: Gallery
  • Sudip Kongbrailatpam -recording engineer
  • Dismantled 9th times & safer in 10th times
  • Remembering Irawat: Are we following ..
  • State Level Archery Championship 2018
  • Stop religious encroachment at Kangla
  • Navratri (festival) make up
  • khongjang changsinnaba sem sarey : ST
  • MU crisis: Emerging questions
  • Lining up five days blockade
  • Dhol Chollom @Sangai Fest: Gallery
  • A Road Trip to Myanmar #2
  • Maroi napakpi in Manipuri dishes
  • National Integration Tour Team
  • Cry of a Dying River - 48 :: Poem
  • Ending antimicobial resistance to #endTB
  • Condoles death of Pu Kaikhokam Kipgen
  • Rejoinder to NDPP (5th Oct) : NPF
  • Responsibility required - not restriction
  • After Thuingaleng Muivah who ?
  • Paddy dry up due to deficit rainfall
  • Lamyanba Irabot- March Past #2: Gallery
  • Binalakshmi Nepram : RAW in WAR Award
  • Agribusiness & Carbon Management : Book
  • Is Gandhi (ian) relevant today ?
  • Guidelines for Hostels for Children
  • ATM based frauds : Router compromise
  • 'Rio's announcement as just mockery'
  • Training Program on Mushroom Cultivation
  • 'Chadong' - the victim of development
  • Poles apart : Pandey and Singh
  • Manipuri Diaspora in Myanmar #2
  • Why has Egg become Danger for Manipur?
  • Speech by Atif Anik on Irabot Day 2018
  • Wounded tree :: Poem
  • Hair stylist as career option
  • Synopsis of Sizo Festival 2018
  • Traffic regulation still a Flop show
  • In the evening of his life : Th Muivah
  • Langban Heitha Leithaba : Gallery
  • World Bamboo Day #2: Gallery
  • Where have all the lights gone ?
  • Mahatma and non-violence
  • Detention of students/professors of MU
  • Gandhi Jayenti at Itanagar
  • IBSD cleans Imphal City
  • MU: Abide by wisdom of Sr citizens
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Power of humility
  • Ghost of Pandey : Four teachers suspended
  • Lamyanba Irabot- March Past #1: Gallery
  • October Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • Looking at Loktak from perspectives #1
  • Morning - a Haiku :: Poem
  • R&V Art House curates 'Land of Polo'
  • Show for football fans at NEUFC Fan Park
  • Indigenous People: Stand against Fascist
  • Clarification on Tamei Residential School
  • Organic Farming Tour to Sikkim
  • System error- or is this real democracy
  • Autonomy for Naga- Stakeholders on board
  • Th. Muivah hospitalized
  • Lamyanba Irabot- Floral Tribute #1: Gallery
  • Choidev Chongba @Kang Fest : Gallery
  • A Road Trip to Myanmar #1
  • The day after Sahnit-Ni
  • Cry of a Dying River - 47 :: Poem
  • Observation of World Alzheimer's Day
  • Benefits of almond oil for the hair
  • NEUFC Fan to host musical performances
  • ..but Irabot may still shed tears in heaven
  • Heikru Hidongba #2 : Gallery
  • Lamyanba Hijam Irabot :: Read all about
  • Tingmila Doungel : Manipuri Boxer
  • Tarpon: Annual offerings to dead by living
  • Manipur: Past & Present (Vol.2) :: Book
  • Genesis of Naga-Kuki clash in early nineties
  • 9th Children's Cultural Meet 2018
  • Parakram Diwas : 2nd Anniversary
  • International Visitors Leadership Program
  • He calls state Govt as unrecognized..
  • Tough stand of Govt noted
  • Historical Evaluation of Puya Meithaba #3
  • MU: General Srtike [27 Sep] #2 :: Gallery
  • Tribute to Oja Nandiram with 'In Memoriam'
  • The resurgence of Hijam Irabot
  • Love for post of MU vice-chancellor
  • Condemns arrests of MU student/teachers
  • Spot Enquiry by MCPCR Team
  • Seriousness with sincerity matters
  • 48 hours bandh on, then what ?
  • MU: General Srtike [27 Sep] #1 :: Gallery
  • Hijam Irabot - Our 'Icon of Revolution'
  • Food preparation among Zeliangrong
  • Is it the final countdown to #endTB?
  • Let's give time a chance :: Poem
  • If Buddhism Is Not A Religion Or Philosophy
  • Using false identity to mislead
  • In response to CM's appeal
  • CM's call against bandh
  • MU: Hunger Strike[25 Sep] :: Gallery
  • Irabot's letter to Assembly :: 18 Oct 1948
  • SC Case on Killings Must be Complied
  • How we lost internal autonomy: Mountbatten
  • The flute player :: Poem
  • Biodiversity for Everyone's Life : Video
  • DU protest against attack on MU Community
  • Unfolding dirtiest of the dirty game
  • Net down since September 21
  • MU: Students protest[25 Sep] :: Gallery
  • Art Exhibition by R & V Art House
  • My name is Kom, Mary Kom - II
  • Electrology as career option
  • When Autumn Came :: Poem
  • Against 48 hrs bandh: Thadou Students
  • Leadership / Media seminar at Dimapur
  • Demise of a dream
  • Traffic menace: Ring road, flyover promise
  • Ringui Village, Ukhrul :: Gallery: Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #4: Gallery
  • Autonomy on a leash
  • Manipur: Past & Present (Vol.1) :: Book
  • World Bamboo Day #1: Gallery
  • 45th AMWJU Foundation day : Gallery
  • Lai Lik Lei & their debut "Esei"
  • Tuilha Kol waterfall #2: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Rally against Mob Lynching #2: Gallery
  • Krishna Janma @Mahabali #2 : Gallery
  • Felicitation of Sportsperson: Gallery
  • Martyrdom of Haipou Jadonang #3: Gallery
  • Kuki Black Day @CCpur : Gallery
  • Sit-In: Naga Peace Talk #2 : Gallery
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Jangou Rah : eRang Classic
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • SPONSORED ADS