Open and Distance Learning: History, Status and Trends

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Presentation on 22/03/2010 at the Refresher Programme in Distance Education organized by STRIDE

Text of Open and Distance Learning: History, Status and Trends

  • 1.Open and Distance Education: History, Status and Conceptual analyses IGNOU-STRIDE Sanjaya Mishra

2. Lets Begin with the Terminologies Correspondence education Home study Independent study External studies Continuing education Distance teaching Self instruction Open learning Flexible learning Distributed learning IGNOU-STRIDE 3. Open Learning

  • medium or media, whether print, on-line, television or video;
  • place of study, whether at home, in the workplace or on campus;
  • pace of study, whether closely paced or unstructured;
  • support mechanisms, whether tutors on demand, audio conferences or computer-assisted learning; and
  • entry and exit points.

The educational philosophy ofopen learningemphasizes giving learners choices about: IGNOU-STRIDE 4. Distance Learning

  • separation of teacher and learnerin time or place, or in both time and place;
  • institutional accreditation ; that is, learning is accredited or certified by some institution or agency. This type of learning is distinct from learning through your own effort without the official recognition of a learning institution;
  • use of mixed-media courseware , including print, radio and television broadcasts, video and audio cassettes, computer-based learning and telecommunications. Courseware tends to be pre-tested and validated before use;

Most definitions of distance learning pay attention to the following characteristics: IGNOU-STRIDE 5.

  • two-way communicationallows learners and tutors to interact as distinguished from the passive recipient of broadcast signals. Communication can be synchronous or asynchronous;
  • possibility of face-to-face meetingsfor tutorials, learnerlearner interaction, library study and laboratory or practice sessions; and
  • use of industrialised processes ; that is, in large-scale open and distance learning operations, labour is divided and tasks are assigned to various staff who work together in course development teams.

Distance Learning Contd IGNOU-STRIDE 6. Teaching-Learning Scenario IGNOU-STRIDE Same timeDifferent time Same place Classroom teaching, face-to-face tutorials and seminars, workshops and residential schoolsLearning resource centres, which learners visit at their leisure.Different place Audio conferences and video conferences; television with one-way video, two-way audio; radio with listenerresponse capability; and telephone tutorials. Home study, computer conferencing, tutorial support by e-mail and fax communication. 7. History of ODL

  • Boston Gazette, March 20, 1728: Advertisement for Short hand course
  • Popularly known, 1840: Sir Isaac Pitman's Short hand course
  • First distance teaching university, University of South Africa in 15 Feb 1946:
  • First Open University, 1969: UKOU

IGNOU-STRIDE 8. The Idea of Open University

  • China's Imperial Examination system in 6 thcentury
  • Rabindranath Tagore's idea of home-based study influenced Leonard Elmhirst (Agricultural adviser), who started Dartington Hall. Michael Young was a pupil there who went on to propose the idea of the UK Open University and started the National Extension College as apilot


  • Over 90 Open Universities around the World
  • 15 in India alone
  • First Open University in India started in 1982; and the National Open University of India was established in 1985.

IGNOU-STRIDE 10. Open University Movement

  • Principle of egalitarianism (open to all)
  • Principle of equality of educational opportunities (barriers of caste, economy, gender to be removed)
  • Principle of lifelong and ubiquitous learning
  • Principle of flexible curricula
  • Principle of learner-orientation
  • Principle of autonomous learning
  • Principle of learning through communication and interaction

Source : Peters, 2008 IGNOU-STRIDE 11. Generations of Distance Education IGNOU-STRIDE First Generation- Correspondence Model: Only print based Second Generation- Multi-media Model: Print, Audio, Video, CBL(CAI/CML) Third Generation- Telelearning Model: Audio Teleconferencing, Video Teleconferencing, Audiographics, Broadcast Radio/TV Fourth Generation- Flexible Learning Model: Interactive Multimedia, Internet/WWW, CMC Fifth Generation- Interactive Flexible Learning Model: Automated response systems, Virtual Learning space 12. Advantages of ODL

  • Overcoming physical distance
  • Solving time and scheduling problems
  • Expanding the limited number of space available
  • Democratizing education
  • Bringing quality education to the doorstep of millions
  • Dealing with cultural, religious and political considerations
  • Cost-effective education suitable to developing nations
  • Provides second chance to those who miss education
  • Enables lifelong learning

IGNOU-STRIDE 13. Limitations?

  • Attitudinal bias
  • Believed as second rate
  • Quality is questioned all the time
  • Difficult to start takes lot of planning time
  • Requires trained, committed human resources
  • Any other?


  • Access and reach
  • Equity and Gender
  • Quality and effectiveness
  • Relevance and lifelong learning
  • Globalization and Technology
  • Cost and Efficiency

IGNOU-STRIDE 15. Access and Reach

  • 880 millions illiterate population
  • By 2015 about 100 million school aged children would not be in school
  • Only 668 millions enrolment in Primary schools
  • Education is a basic human right, and how are we going to achieve the gigantic task
  • School enrolment rate have to be increased up to 10% for many countries to meet the goals of Education for All by 2015

IGNOU-STRIDE 16. Equity and Gender

  • Equity refers to the fairness in distribution of educational resources
  • Equity in gender
  • Equitable access to education for people in rural, hilly, and remote islands
  • Female enrolment in all stages of education is less than 50%
  • 64% of the total illiterate population is female; in China female illiteracy is more than 70%

IGNOU-STRIDE 17. Quality and Effectiveness

  • Not just access, people need access to quality education
  • Effect of HIV/AIDS on supply of education services: In Zambia the mortality rate amongst teachers because of HIV/AIDS was more than the general adult population
  • World average for teachers is just 16 for 1000 population; in developing countries it is more less
  • Technology and student-centred design has a strong role to play in improving quality

IGNOU-STRIDE 18. Relevance and Lifelong Learning

  • Societal change from labour intensive work to knowledge intensive work
  • Need to teach the 7Cs:
  • Constant change and advancement in technology
  • Critical thinking
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Cross-cultural understanding
  • Communication
  • Computing
  • Career development

IGNOU-STRIDE 19. Globalization and Technology

  • Globalization refers to the package of economic reforms including liberalization, privatization and decentralization
  • Education as a commodity and trans-boarder flow of knowledge
  • Technology is the mover in the age of globalization, especially the Internet, and its WWW
  • Increasing digital divide: only 4.8 persons per thousand online

IGNOU-STRIDE 20. Cost and Efficiency

  • Governments are by far the largest funding bodies in education
  • In spite of commitment, Governments are not in a position to invest more as there are other important areas like health, environment, etc.
  • The public expenditure in education varies between 2-6% of GNP in many countries; world average is just 4.8% of GNP
  • Private participation required to increase efficiency; Governments can focus more on primary education

IGNOU-STRIDE 21. ODL: Issues and Challenges

  • Mandate vs performance
  • Quality of teaching and learning
  • Dropouts and cost-effectiveness
  • Faculty workload
  • Research on ODL teaching and learning practices
  • Flexibility vs professional demands
  • Incorporating technology mediated synchronous learning
  • Virtualization and emergence of Cyber universities