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Distance Learning

In India, distance education system of learning was set up with the intention of providing opportunity to people who had to discontinue their education for personal reasons. The popularity increased with the sudden spurt of competition in the knowledge industry. With rapid technological changes, the survival of an individual depends on her ability to be well informed. Distance education comes to the rescue of the people by providing a variety of courses plus flexibility in operation.

Distance education system is controlled by the Distance Education Council to ensure that quality education system prevails in the country. The institutions must be accredited for the attainment of their recognition. Many universities provide distance education from doctorate programmes to the Bachelor degree courses, thus handing out better chances for higher education.

Distance learning provides the chances for the employed people to continue with their education on the basis of the needs of the industry. Distance learning is generally provided through correspondence, video tapes or with the help of the internet. Generally contact classes are conducted at definite centres to maintain a direct contact with the people. Direct contact with the lecturers helps in having a better understanding of the situation. Distance education plays a substantial role in the higher education of the huge population of India. The biggest advantage is better exploitation of prestigious institutions like Indian Institute of Management (IIM), or Xavier Labour Relations Institute (XLRI), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and many others is possible without uprooting the individual from her place of residence. Education can be continued without resigning from the job in many cases. Distance education, by having a geographically wide spread faculty, can provide greater exposure to knowledge.

However the distance learning system based on internet is expensive because of the cost of the basic infrastructure required for transmission. The impact of the huge cost is felt by the institute as well as on the individuals. The institute has to meet the cost of servers, the DSL rates, software and hardware costs and many other related costs incurred on its transmission. Many distance education system programmes are conducted through secure channels which can be viewed from certain study centres of the provider. The basic infrastructure costs add up to the total cost of the course provided. Correspondence courses, on the other hand, conduct classes at certain intervals in certain institutions to assist in providing clarifications and clearing doubts of the students. The cost of the teacher plus the rentals incurred on the building makes the course expensive.

To the student the increased cost and the necessity of commuting to the course centres might make it less attractive. A minimum percentage of attendance is a must for many institutes. Moreover, institutes like XLRI expects a weeks’ compulsory stay at Jamshedpur, which is situated in the North of India, which might not be practical in many cases.

Basic infrastructure is inevitable in case of internet courses. The Government must assist in increasing the bandwidth by laying the infrastructure and policies supporting it. The laws on acquiring licenses might vary with the budget of the Government. This makes pricing volatile. The success of some courses is dependent on the creditability of the individual. Online tests not conducted in test centres could be copied.

In spite of the disadvantages, the distance education is popular on account of the flexibility of operation. The basic criteria in prestigious institution being experience, the headache of appearing for entrance examination to enter the institute is absent. Thus the role of distance education in higher studies is colossal.

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