Education is an important tool for self-development. Distance learning is helping countries with vast populations living in remote areas to enhance their literacy level and economic output. Regular education is a costly affair as it requires these students to move away from their hometowns. Distance education is opening up vistas for students with the lack of time or funds.
Education has undergone a transformation over the past decades and while traditional classroom education is still popular, online and distance education are gaining ground. The hallmark of online education is that it is self-driven and on the go. Education in India has seen various phases and achieved several milestones, the latest in the series is online and distance Learning.
Distance education may have meant studying materials sent through post by the university or college earlier. Lately, it is becoming synonymous with online education. Most universities and colleges are competing to provide best-in-class online education. Several colleges have already carved a niche with their top-of-the-line online degree programs. The course content and pedagogy of these online programs is at par with classroom programs.
The Indian government’s push for digital India and online education has breathed life into the online education industry. The Department of Electronics and Information Technology has been developing tools to meet the requirement for digital classrooms and online education. There are specific projects related to e-learning for which the DeitY has been undertaking research and development work. These projects include faculty training, content development, research and development for technology tools, and HRD projects to improve the rate of literacy through distance education and thus, enhance the overall employability of the population.
The digital India initiative has also brought increased internet connectivity across the remotest of Indian towns and even villages. This has spurred the interest in online and distance education. Several domestic and global players are vying to provide internet connectivity to the hinterlands. This will enhance the chances of greater proliferation of distance education.
Distance education is not limited to school and college education. Employers are also using elearning as a tool to upgrade the skills of their employees. This creates a win-win scenario. Employers use it as an employee retention strategy and employees are happy to upgrade their skills, get promotions, and higher pay scales. Employers usually enter into employment bonds with such employees. Even so, the employment bonds are mostly short term ranging between 1 to 5 years. Hence, employees are free to look out once the bond term is completed.
Distance education opportunities in India are poised to grow as the internet reach will expand to 250 million users. Thus, India is a great market for distance learning. With several online business management courses with certificates being increasingly accepted by employers, more youth will be motivated to pursue online education. Moreover, with a large number of youth accessing internet through their mobile, online education providers are tapping the potential by developing education apps for mobile. Hence, education becomes more accessible than ever before.
Elearning has several benefits. One of the key benefits is personalized attention to every student. While it is not possible for teachers and professors in classrooms to pay attention to every student in a class of 30 to 40 students or even more for graduate and postgraduate courses, instructors for online distance degree programs can pay attention to each individual as the batch sizes are small. Students of online programs thus stand to benefit as they get assistance on their weak areas by the instructors. The implication of such learning is wide-ranging, benefitting not just the students but also the economy as a whole.
Moreover, Distance education is available through online learning platforms which are associated with several world class global universities and colleges. Thus, students living even in small towns of India have the global education advantage available right in their home. The online programs are priced very economically and hence, can be afforded easily by people living in remote areas as well. Online education thus creates a level playing field for all students.
There is something for everyone. Online education is available across a plethora of fields and hence, students can take their pick of courses. Moreover, the international advantage means students have the most advanced and cutting edge courses available to them. This brings them at par with the international community.
Another attractive feature of distance education is the video content delivery. Since videos are available to students at any time of the day, they can refer these videos whenever they wish and they can replay a video whenever they want. This is a special benefit of online education which is not available in classroom teaching. In traditional classrooms students have to retain or note whatever the teacher has said, while in online programs students have access to video content for repeated reference.
Students are evaluated basis standardized tests. Since these tests have international recognition, the evaluation and grading is highly valued. The more renowned a college or university, the more standard their grading method. Thus, students in India need to complete assignments and pass these standardized tests before they receive a certificate. This provides greater credibility to their education. Thus, distance education brings the opportunity for a great future.