BANGALORE: The ongoing India-US Higher Education Summit has tabled the keyword technology in distance learning between the two nations. True to this goal, several educational institutions here are already offering courses online for higher education.
According to University Grants Commission’s (UGC) report on Strategies and Schemes during Eleventh Plan Period (2007-12) for Universities and Colleges, the enrollment of students into higher education stood at 7.2 per cent, far below international standards. The report further states that there has been a tremendous increase in the demand for higher education, leading to a situation where demand far exceeds the existing capacity in universities and colleges.
The New Indian Express spoke to Former Vice-Chancellor of Bangalore University Dr M S Thimappa,� who believes that reduction of cost is the biggest advantage that students have with online learning. “Outer costs of education, such as travelling and books, are virtually not there in online education. It is vital especially in India where an online degree can be a good supplement,” he said.
He added that a well-designed online course would help students to self-learn. “There is no academic pressure as such, and online learning gives quick feedback,” he opined.
Industry-watchers believe that online education could provide a long-term solution to the demand-supply deficit. “Of the three million students who graduate every year, more than 10 per cent are under-educated and unemployable. This situation is due to lack of physical and intellectual infrastructure. With online learning, there is greater flexibility and knowledge can be imparted with experience and power of technology,” said K S Karthik, founder of Avagmah Online School that offers degree courses certified by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU).
While online education promises answers our questions, there are several challenges that have to be overcome for it to become mainstream. “It can improve the enrollment ratio, but I doubt if it can become an alternative to traditional education”, said Dr M K Sridhar, Executive Director of Karnataka Knowledge Commission.