Monday, May 11, 2009

Distance education for millions of unviersity students

Greetings from the famous room N101 at the Australian National University in Canberra, where Professor Uma Kanjilal, Director of the School of Social Sciences, Indira Gandhi Open University (IGNOU) is speaking on "Standards and distance education". The talk is being recorded and I will provide a link here, when available. The Professor is visiting Australia and will speak to federal government agencies later in the day and at University of Canberra, later in the week. The visit is funded by the Australia-India Council, University of Canberra and Flinders University and the purpose is for knowledge exchange around ICT in education. I will post some comments here as the talk goes along.

Initial distance education in India was printed material by post. Integrated multimedia is being added, with TV and radio. It needs to be kept in mind that infrastructure is needed, including libraries and A/V facilities, computers, and Internet.

India has a Distance Education Council to oversee provision of courses. This sets standards for materials, registration processes, support services for learners, ICT infrastructure and assessment. Before creating a course, the institution has to do need assessment to show there is a requirement for a course and who the target group are.

The Indian Distance Education Guidelines are available online:
  1. Norms and Standards for Management Programmes
  2. Norms and Standards for IT Education
  3. DEC-GUIDELINES, for regulating the Establishment and Operation of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) Institutions in India
  4. Norms for ODL
  5. Norms for Online Programmes
The India PM has set up a National Knowledge Commission as a high-level advisory body. There will be an advisory group on Pedological Content and a Technical Advisory Group.

India uses its own satellites for broadcasting educational material. More interactive and feedback techniques as resources permit. Few Indian students have Internet access at home, so some methods being used are cyber cafes. Mobile phone SMS is being used for student support and 3G smart phone support will be offered when these phones are more widely available.

ps: For my own experiences of Indian cyber cafes and wireless networking, see: Living in an Indian Village in Goa for Three Weeks

pps: Unfortunately the battery went flat in my MP3 recorder, so only the first 10 minutes of the talk were recorded: Uma Kanjilal ANU 2009 05 11 (MP3 4.48Mbytes)

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