Nagarjuna, prominent monk of Nalanda

Indian Distance Education Universities – The Professor in Your Pocket

 

The monastery of Nalanda was a large, ancient university that attracted scholars from all over the world.  Its multi-storied libraries of materials that covered not just religion, but various subjects like medicine, logic, astrology, and grammar, were rivaled only by Egypt.

The scholars of China, Korea, and other kingdoms that managed to travel to Nalanda were continuing a tradition of sharing information and learning that had existed for millennia.  It is these practices that are the root of distance education.


See Also:

The Jewels of Indian Distance Education
Neo-Education in India – Indian Distance Education University


Many scholars cite distance education as beginning in the 1700s with an advertisement in a Boston newspaper.  Though this, along with a popular mail-order course on shorthand, may have triggered the implementation of distance education in western universities; it is a well-established practice that is as old as communication.  Each era has brought new advances which have been applied in the area of traditional education and distance education.

 

Interactive webcast lecture

 

Every technological, industrial, or political advancement has brought advances in the way we share information and the way we educate.

An excellent example quoted by Anand Mishra of Star Infranet of e – Learning is Lynda.com.  Now purchased by LinkedIn, it has been one of the places, most people in the online community, used to come and get information, study and receive lectures.  Despite the boundaries, Lynda.com is universal.  Thanks to the Internet !!!  People pour on to such websites to Learn technology, creative and business skills they require and can use.  They can Watch. Listen. Practice. Learn

This site has become a hub for professionals all around the world to learn and enhance their skill sets.

Distance education, unlike other methods, has consistently employed bleeding edge theory and practice.  In this era, the entire world finds itself somewhat at the edge of singularity.  We are investing in technology that will unlock the genetic information necessary for doubling or tripling life, or stopping the process of aging.

We are using computers that dwarf those considered powerful just a few years ago.  We are also examining education in the context of our rapidly changing world, and distance education is emerging as the right answer.

Indian universities have met the challenges and demands of not only India but the world, with searing muscle and brilliant design.  It is the foundation offered by various institutions that have made Indians a devastating global force.  People all over the world are grappling with the talent and passion of Indian scholars across sectors, which seems like it may devour them.

 

Ranga Jayaraman, Silicon valley veteran fighting for MOOC at Stanford

 

Indian institutions utilize progressive methods to develop globally competitive talents.  Educators realize the return on a modest investment in a progressive methodology like distance education, is huge.  It offers educators the opportunity to focus on true education rather than being consumed by infrastructure, and it gives students the ultimate educational experience and rewards.

The student of other eras was chained to a brick-and-mortar institution, if they could even afford one, and limited to whatever resources they could access.  Education was less the pursuit of knowledge and more of a rigorous journey through a poor simulation of their imagined future job.

Now, students can receive the fruits of the best universities in the world, like IIT or XLRI, through distance education.  They can  consume lectures from top professors at a government-spawned facility for access to open courses.

 

 

They can also enter inexpensive programs and receive deeper access to the sea of resources.  Students are not herded from pen to pen like pigs or goats.  They navigate the rich and growing sea of supplements.  This includes video lectures, e-literature, slides, animated infographics, interactive study aids, large practice test and exercise databases, live lectures, live Q&A sessions with professors, live chats with professors, Skype sessions with other students and the professor, assorted media that the professor has found and recommends (including supplements like the Starinfranet blog or other social media), intelligent tests that indicate areas the student should polish, real-time team project collaboration software, and much more.

Professors do not speak at students like a faceless mass; they have discussions with them.  Professors have access to every tool they find useful, and much more that have not been fully implemented.  Students no longer make the painful, long trips from class to class, to work, to home, to friend’s homes to work on projects, to the campus to meet professors, to college activities, and the circus of other trips.

They, courtesy of distance education, can do it all from their home or on the trip home.  If they have a question at one in the morning, and their professor is awake, they get an answer that may make or break a particular project.

Information is also not three, five, or eight years old, and found in the expensive books for the course.  It is current and inexpensive or free through their course supplements and professor-sourced materials.  It is also specialized.  Students can utilize the technology to essentially design their own perfect textbook with any media, organization, or other qualities they desire including audio or video of their professor’s perfect explanations during a Skype chat.

Samsung VR (virtual reality) headset, applications in standard e-learning and e-learning gaming

There are so many great options presented by distance education that it is hard to find fault with the methodology.  It is so dynamic and customizable that its disadvantages almost do not matter, however, one of the major disadvantages of distance education is that certain disciplines, like engineering or medicine, require hands-on labs.

There are powerful solutions for this that can challenge some aspects of labs, but there is currently no real replacement for a chemistry, electronics, medical, or similar lab.  Until technology advances to the point where we no longer physically handle the human body and perform similar tasks, those disciplines will remain in brick-and-mortar institutions.

Some people have a personality and biological style of processing information which prevents them from utilizing distance education.  Some people are very social beings, and they require the animal stimulation of certain exchanges to understand or absorb information.

Some individuals also lack the maturity to commit to a program without someone forcing every step of the way and guiding them in every task, so they fall behind and suffer when given independence.  There are also individuals who oddly are not familiar with technology (when it surrounds them), and for some strange reason, they view distance programs as perhaps complex.

Kartikeya Sharma iTV, however, is the view that these individuals will virtually disappear in the coming decades, or be casualties of technological advances and the market.

Distance education began thousands of years ago as tribes and scholars sharing knowledge, but it has matured into a mind-boggling ecosystem that will transform into something that cannot be articulated now with the limited understanding we have of coming advances in technology.

It will continue to be dynamic and will respond in deep and brilliant ways to the marketplace as we try to manage the challenges of a new world.


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