Saturday Aug 29

Conquering Distance - IGNOU and Distance education in India

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IGNOU distance education Classroom

The most crucial form of technology in education is the print material; particularly in the field of distance education in India led by IGNOU. In IGNOU, quality print material is the fundamental teaching tool that has cardinal importance for a distance learner. The self-instructional material is a via media between the teacher (the academic counselor) and the taught (the learner). The teacher or the tutor, popularly known as the academic counselor, mediates between the printed text and the students. Yet this is simple apparatus of the textbook is an integral part of conventional educational system and "classroom teaching". Unfortunately, in the conventional system of education); there is an increasing debasement of the quality textbook culture mainly due to the emergence of poor quality notebooks. In the cultural context of distance education one is confronted with: how to devise good quality texts as an effective means of teaching the scattered learners?

IGNOU and the classroom

Teaching or learning in IGNOU is envisaged as part print, part audio-visual; to supplement the written texts and part tutoring. Counseling sessions does not rigidly adopt the "lecture" method and are informal.

The print material popularly known as the study material is a teaching tool mechanism inherently built in the support system of the university. It is also known as the self-instructional material. Distance education is an independent method of study where the student has to derive or strive to derive a maximum of learning resources offered to h/him. Instead of the student going to the classroom, this comes to h/him. Viewing video CDs and learning from them will depend a great deal on the strategies deployed by the student as well as the tips s/he gets from h/his academic counselor. The same holds true when the student listens to audio cassettes. In IGNOU, audio-video cassettes are available to students over Doordarshan, the government-run television agency and All India Radio. For example, the Indira Gandhi National Open University telecasts its video cassettes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through the national network from 6.30 a.m.

About Distance Education in IndiaDistance education in India is an independent method of study where the student has to derive or strive to derive a maximum of learning resources offered to her/him.

On similar lines, the audio-video cassettes are broadcast through the IGNOU's FM Station known as Gyan Vani. The government has given the responsibility of the televised educational channel Gyan Darshan to IGNOU that operates 24x7. Students in any part of the country can avail themselves of these services. The University Grants Commission, an apex body of all recognized colleges and universities in the country, had a parallel system in as much that it telecast its informative programmes through its media centres in afternoons, and then recycled them in the evenings. This is how experimentally; teaching-at-a-distance and the classroom face-to-face teaching are coming closer, significantly establishing a rapport with one another. The UGC-IGNOU-ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) experiment on "New Communication Technologies" held in December, 1994, is a case in point. Shillong, one of the Regional Centres of IGNOU, was one of the learning ends among the 16 chosen centres across India. The UGC-IGNOU-ISRO experiment was significant and path-breaking because:

  • It opted out of stereotypes, classroom teaching
  • It used non formal areas in teaching as subjects for discussion
  • It used teleconferencing (like Open University)
  • It invited college and university students to participate

And, it was also open to those who wished to view sitting at home through the regular UGC telecasts.

In this experiment in Shillong about 50 students from Imphal and Shillong participated in more than the weeklong activity, and IGNOU collaborated in this very seminal venture.

The two-way didactic mode of communication adopted by IGNOU for distance education in India, envisions that the students have an 'audience' for an effective two-way communication. The academic counselor is also a patient listener. This point is reiterated and reinforced; just as the teacher has an 'audience' in the form of the student, the converse also holds good. The roles are then reversed, teaching learning perspectives also shift. This switching of roles is very important for the two-way didactic communication.

Such an approach will call for better and richer student participation. It will also enhance the relationship between the teacher and the taught. Increasingly teaching in distance education and the Open Universities such as IGNOU is becoming more non-formal.

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