Distance education or distance learning is an area of education that focuses on using technology and alternative teaching methods to teach. The students and teachers, unlike conventional settings such as classrooms, have time and distance separating them.
This field of education has given millions of people access to education without having to be physically present at a place. People from various backgrounds take up distance education programmes. It has been especially helpful to young professionals who are seeking to build up on their education while working at a regular job. This form of education also helps many people from economically weaker sections that may not be able to commit themselves to regular college. There are various types of distance education programmes offered, and they are discussed below.
Correspondence courses usually refer to distance education programmes where students do not attend regular classes. However, the curriculum taught, duration of the programme and the validity of the degree awarded are the same as those given to a regular students. The teaching materials and evaluated response sheets are supplied to the student at regular intervals. Students may also have a personal contact programmer or a Radio teaching facility. Admissions for such programmes are open to candidates all across India.
Online education is a form of distance education that has evolved and grown rapidly in the last fifteen years or so. This form of learning uses electronic supports to aid the learning process. The growth of technology has aided this form of learning, with reducing costs for internet usage. Many institutes around the world and India offer online education programmes. The institutes offering these have infrastructure, teaching staff and coordinators specifically assigned to teach students by interaction through electronic modes.
Open universities are usually centrally funded institutes which aim to educate people who may not have any prior educational qualification. Open universities may use a combination of teaching materials delivered via post and online education. However, some courses may require students to attend a few workshops on-campus. India has the largest Open University in the world- Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), which caters to over 3,500,000 students.
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