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
  • Emoinu Khoiramba @Koubru #3: Gallery
  • Driver's Day observation : Gallery
  • HC to revive Human Rights Commission
  • Walk-in-interview at Mizoram University
  • CBI should not do interference..
  • TSA Gunpi Block installed
  • Nagaland Election: another truth of IM
  • Highlighting stand to Rajnath Singh
  • NE youths know India better than most
  • Naga Hoho determined to boycott Polls
  • Myanmar stretch used by militants identified
  • Kachai Lemon Fest @Ukhrul #1: Gallery
  • Gaan Ngai @ Ragailong #1 : Gallery
  • Kachai Village: An Abode of finest Lemons
  • Cry Of A Dying River...14 :: Poem
  • Conflict: A pre-requisite or stumbling block
  • How was the sun formed & emit light
  • Training & placement by Jettwings
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Rohingya Crisis: Lecture at Indonesia
  • The haunting shadows
  • Announcing poll date for Nagaland
  • Women's Polo Tournament #1 : Gallery
  • Fashion Show: 'Handloom' #2 : Gallery
  • Reporting in Conflict Situation #1
  • Treatment schemes of RIMS, Lamphel
  • Home remedies for skin pigmentation
  • NE Chapter of ICSI inaugurated
  • Media credibility matter to uphold its sanctity
  • Setting down Jan 31 deadline : SC
  • Tangkhul Zingtun Longphang #1: Gallery
  • Wungramphy, Khamgonpou: eMing
  • NEROCA FC Vs Indian Arrows #3 : Gallery
  • Career option in Human Rights
  • Water conflicts over the Brahmaputra
  • PAC against Killing of Pravish: 17 Jan
  • Neiphiu Rio resigns from NPF
  • NPF-BJP Relationship : NPF clarifies
  • Consolidating the sporting heritage
  • Rising air and noise pollution
  • Kukis have equal right... : Neiphiu Rio
  • Rajnath reviews security in NE
  • Lafoi Shamda puthorkpa #2 : Gallery
  • Sangai Fest: Commercial Stalls #3: Gallery
  • The joy of living :: Poem
  • Bamboo a tree or grass ?
  • SELF Workshop on Leadership & Fulfilment
  • Fight against corruption; we need Lokayukta
  • Hailing the role of drivers
  • Nangna Helli Nungshiba #2 :: eRang
  • Pung Chollom : Gallery
  • Wakhal Seireng :: Book Review
  • Imphal Jamboree by Global Shapers
  • Importance of regular health check-ups
  • Meetei demand for ST is Constitutional.. #2
  • Weapon Display organized at Moreh
  • Ex-Servicemen Rally organized
  • AR helps Orphanage & Old Age Home
  • Search of comprehensive culture & identity
  • List of MLA (Jan 2018) #1 : Gallery
  • Manipur Gas Today :: Android App
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #3: Gallery
  • GNRC media fellowship announced
  • The Meiteis- Festival & celebration maniacs
  • How to make bridal mehndi long lasting
  • Governor's attention drawn to RIMS
  • Scientist develops prototype of electric car
  • Stereotypes about NE make people living..
  • Light Show at Loktak Lake #5 : Gallery
  • Candlelight vigil for Pravish : Gallery
  • Imbroglio of ethnic identity of Ranglong
  • Foundation For Excellence scholarship
  • Time Table - Class XII Exam 2018
  • Mail spoofing- Trickery by deception
  • Trial by fire
  • Call for solution before election
  • Villagers along Myanmar border get pass
  • Meetei Chanu 2017 #3 : Gallery
  • Art and Artist, A Creative Space
  • NEROCA FC Vs Indian Arrows #2 : Gallery
  • Ode to Thy Mellow Light :: Poem
  • Xmas with Meitei eche at Phaijol
  • Time Table - Class XI Exam 2018
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • IMC , now another hurdle to traffic mgmt
  • Setting aside two days for the people
  • Maring: Kummui Chaa-um : Gallery
  • Miss Manipur 2017 #5 : Gallery
  • Statehood Day Women's Polo Tournament
  • Time Table - HSLC Exam 2018
  • Bananas: Beauty's best friend
  • DPC for Follower at Manipur Police
  • Job Openings at JCRE Skill Solutions
  • The lost treasure
  • Nagas' Interests : Stand of NPF MSU
  • Nagaland polls on schedule: HM
  • Mukna Kangjei Tournament #2: Gallery
  • Keisham Manihar : Natyabhusan(Leela)
  • World Tourism Day #3: Gallery
  • Responsibility of protecting the environment
  • Phishing vs Vishing: The Verbal Challenge
  • BNHS Bi-monthly Program for Jan-Feb
  • Managing weight for preventing diabetes
  • Making democracy peoples' participatory
  • Progressing from media to SC
  • Manipur to set up modern food lab
  • Gaan Ngai @ Kakhulong Khun: Gallery
  • A trip to Moreh #2 : Gallery
  • How long catchy slogans keep hopes alive
  • Recycling of hospital waste-water
  • I am sometime or somewhere : Poem
  • Angami Zapu Phizo's Surreal 2017 AD
  • Film "Legacy Of King Narak" awarded
  • Of PM and our CM
  • Patronising the killing machines ?
  • Deferment of polls unlikely: Ravi
  • PM may visit Manipur in March
  • Emoinu Khoiramba @Koubru #2: Gallery
  • NEROCA FC Vs East Bengal #2: Gallery
  • Transform Colleges into Innovation Centres
  • New Delhi: World Book Fair 2018 :: Review
  • Cry Of A Dying River...12 :: Poem
  • Workshop on National Pension for NE
  • Law enforcers action - Well & good
  • Final pact yet to see light of day
  • Cold wave hits Manipur
  • Take out the cymbals, Manoharsai to stay
  • Indo-Naga Peace Process :: Articles
  • MaiOn - Scenes #2 :: eRang
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #2: Gallery
  • Miss Manipur 2017 #4 : Gallery
  • Is Global Warming Natural or Anthropogenic
  • Prof Gangmumei Kamei: Legendary hero
  • Common Education System rally organized
  • DAMMS launched 2018 calendar
  • Chorus for 'Solution Not Election'
  • NEROCA FC Vs Indian Arrows #1 : Gallery
  • Gaan Ngai @Moirangkhom : Gallery
  • I was born healthy, I wanna die healthy
  • Practice peace & change the life
  • TSA Moreh Block installed
  • Cycle Rally: common education system
  • Ethics, medical profession & soaring fees
  • Meetei Chanu 2017 #2 : Gallery
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Meira rally for Pravish : Gallery
  • Accelerate momentum to endTB for SDGs
  • The call that can't be turned down
  • Live@MDU: New act with same old vibes
  • 1st Centre of Excellence- Electronics Skill
  • LED Lights installed by Loktak Station
  • NE tragedy: Policy failures & influx
  • Angaoba - Scenes #3 :: eRang
  • 51st Mr Manipur Contest 2017 #3 : Gallery
  • Result: Manipur Sangai Intl Digital salon
  • Use Swachhata App to Make Imphal No. 1
  • Career @ events and celebration
  • Night nourishing
  • Indo-Nepal Friendship: 25 yrs of Don Bosco
  • Understanding the indices of life
  • Poppy cultivation & drug cartels
  • Emoinu Khoiramba @Koubru #1: Gallery
  • Day 10: Closing of Sangai Fest #4 : Gallery
  • The creation of the universe, matter...
  • Mumbai: The city of dreams
  • Let this new year kill your new fears
  • Asian Waterbird Census: Count waterbirds
  • Looking for a better inclusive alternative
  • Coaching & commercialisation of education
  • New Year picnic @ Singda Dam : Gallery
  • Miss Manipur 2017 #3 : Gallery
  • Despite Stolen Dreams :: Book Rvw
  • Handloom Training @Hojai : Gallery
  • The Perfect timing
  • IGAR (south) meets Chief Minister
  • Communique from Neiphiu Rio on NDPP
  • Discussion on 'Rohingyas' at Delhi
  • In the process of making change- Manipur
  • Looking ahead from vantage point 2017
  • NEROCA FC Vs East Bengal #1: Gallery
  • World Tourism Day #2: Gallery
  • Immediate Manipur
  • Easter Peace :: Poem
  • You are what you eat
  • Goals for Girls: Leadership Summit @Delhi
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #1: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Front Page Photo #6: Gallery
  • LUCIFER-X released debut EP
  • ..on the ocean of despondence :: Poem
  • Happy new year to State lovers
  • New year, new me: Re-designing self
  • Quiz Competition & Career Awareness
  • Calendar for the Year 2018 :: e-pao Tools
  • Gaan Ngai : Zeliangrong festival :: Flash
  • 51st Mr Manipur Contest 2017 #2 : Gallery
  • Crowd @ Flower Festival @Mao #4: Gallery
  • Gaan-Ngai Festival of Zelianglong
  • Goodbye 2017, welcome 2018
  • Cry of a dying river- 11 :: Poem
  • Free Heart OPD & Echocardiogram
  • Peoples' mandate: what next?
  • Understanding Manipur and its history
  • Kwatha (Indo-Myanmar Border) #2: Gallery
  • Thang Ta @Parlimentary : Gallery
  • A Hymn for Goddess Emoinu
  • Flower Festival @ Mao #3 : Gallery
  • Why the Ngamu Fish ?
  • Restricted Holidays 2018 : Govt of Manipur
  • Lourembam Bedabati : Sangeetbhusan
  • Culturals @ Mera Houchongba #3 : Gallery
  • List of RIST popular talks during 2014-2017
  • Christmas eve @ CCpur #2 : Gallery
  • Public Holidays 2018 : Govt of Manipur
  • Pui Thangamliu #2 :: eRang
  • Christmas Carol @ Lamphel : Gallery
  • Royal Crematorium at Bangkok #2 : Gallery
  • General Holidays 2018 : Govt of Manipur
  • Nupilal Ningsing Lamjen : Gallery
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #7 : Ooba
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2018 : Download it
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • SPONSORED ADS