Distance Education System & Study skills
Studies across the globe, comparing distance education to traditional classroom
indicate that teaching and learning at a distance are as effective as traditional
instruction, when the learning materials, method and technologies used are
the instructional tasks and when student-to-student interaction and teacher-student
are robust. The typical challenges posed by distance education are countered by
Reach a wider student audience.
Meet the needs of students who are unable to attend on-campus classes.
Involve outside speakers who would otherwise be unavailable, and
Link students from different social, cultural, economic, and experiential
These days with advances in science and technology a wide range of technological
available to the distance educator. They can be grouped into four major categories
voice, video, print and web (Internet) options. Voice tools include passive or
technologies (tapes, radio, etc.) and the interactive technologies (telephone, audio
conferencing, etc.). Video tools include still images such as slides, pre-produced
images (e.g., film, videotape), and real-time moving images combined with
(one-way or two-way video with two-way audio). Print version in self-learning format
foundational element of distance education programs and the basis from which all
delivery systems have evolved. Various print formats that could be used for distance
learning are: textbooks, study guides, workbooks, course syllabi, and case studies.
advance and affordability of communication technology, web or Internet based
become reality. Technology plays a key role in the delivery of distance education.
the focus of the program is on the instructional outcomes rather than on the
delivery. In other words, the main thrust is on the needs of the learners, the
of the content and the constraints faced by the teacher, before selecting a delivery
Typically, this systematic approach has resulted in a mix of media, each serving a
purpose as touched upon below:
Print component provides much of the basic learning content in the form of learning
materials (which are in self-learning format), supplemented by suggested readings
support materials in print.
Interactive sessions provide real-time/face-to-face (or voice-to-voice) interaction
or video conferencing). This has proved to be, among others, a cost-effective way to
incorporate guest speakers and content experts.
Computer conferencing (e.g., Chat session, discussion forum, bulletin board) or
mail to send messages, assignment feedback, and other targeted communication to one
class members is also prevalent. This helps to increase interaction among students
between students and teachers.
Pre-recorded video tapes/CD/DVD's are used to present class lectures and visually
Fascimile services are used, where affordable and required, to distribute
just-in-time announcements, receive student assignments provide timely feedback,
Using this integrated approach, the task is to carefully select among the
options depending on students (infrastructural facilities available in their
subject requirements (field visit, case studies, etc.) and institutional
goal is to build a hybrid instructional media, meeting the needs of the learner in a
that is instructionally effective and economically prudent.
Distance education programs have been initiated with careful planning and a focused
understanding of course requirements and student needs. Appropriate technologies
evolved through the efforts of many individuals and organizations, which rely on the
consistent and integrated efforts of students, faculty, facilitators, support staff,
administrators. When instruction is delivered at a distance, additional challenges
because students are often separated from others sharing their backgrounds and
have few if any opportunities to interact with teachers outside of class, and rely
technical linkages to bridge the gap separating class participants. Hence, the
distance education effort rests squarely on the shoulders of the faculty and
persons. In a traditional classroom setting, the instructor's responsibility
assembling course content and developing an understanding of student needs.
Need for Environmental Engineering Distance learning Courses
Rapid industrialization of developing countries has led to an increasing demand for
continuing professional development for environmental engineering personnel at all
including industrial and infrastructure management sectors. Recognizing the need for
continuing professional development, the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) provided
quality environmental engineering texts earlier developed through a UNESCO-COL
to the Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc.) They jointly examined the relevance of,
degree of modification required for, offering at a distance those texts for
professionals in environmental engineering. This resulted in a COL-funded project
taking the responsibility of coordinating and contributing to the design and
a series of learning materials in Engineering Sciences for open distance learning.
Based on the analysis of target audience, learning goals and objectives, and the
course content with particular relevance to India, an outline of the content was
which was reviewed by a committee of content and instructional design experts. The
development of five self-learning environmental engineering courses included
evaluation by project review committee and electronic list discussions. The
evaluation included validation and pilot testing and brainstorm sessions to
suitability of materials to meet the project goals and objectives. The materials
produced were revised on the basis of the feedback and are on offer at a distance
in India. Nonetheless, these courses when suitably adopted with contextual examples
the continuous professional development requirements of the developing countries in
Commonwealth. It is also believed that these courses can be appropriately
contribute to the proposal put forward by the World Federation of Engineering
for the World Engineering Partnership for Sustainable Development.