Open & Distance Learning

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1.0The Definition of Open and Distance Learning

Open and Distance Learning is a way of learning that focus on releasing learners from constraints of time and place whilst offering flexible learning opportunities. For a lot of married and working adults, Open and Distance Learning (ODL) is a way of combining work and family responsibilities with educational opportunities.

"Distance education is any educational process in which all or most of the teaching is conducted by someone removed in space and/or time from the learner, with the effect that all or most of the communication between teachers and learners is through an artificial medium, either electronic or print."

The ‘open' nature of Distance Education have several policies such as open admissions, and freedom of selection of what, when and where to learn. The notion is also seen in flexible organizational structures, delivery and communication patterns as well as the use of various technologies to support learning. The learning process is delivered mainly by electronic or printed technologies.

2.0The current trends in Open and Distance Learning

Open and Distance (OD) Learning is seen as an important new approach and strategy due to the challenges of education and development both in developing and developed countries. There are several trends on the subject of ODL. The first current trend is the growing confidence. Confidence seems to be growing that ODL is the most appropriate strategy in resolving the problems of access, quality and equity. It is essential to look for new strategies when the traditional and conventional systems and approaches fail to meet these needs. Examples of growing confidence can be found in nine most high populated countries in the world. Efforts are concentrated on expanding work for school equivalence, for teachers' education and for non-formal education. The second is the increased distance education components in educational programmes. Such examples can be seen in the European Union where they have consistently increased distance education components of its educational programmes. In Central and Eastern Europe, distance education is an important way of supporting the revolution process towards democratic and market-oriented societies. Similar initiatives and statements are also applied by a wide range of individual countries as well as regional and international organisations and agencies. The third is when the Government wants to have an increasing amount of expenditure for ODL. Just like any other educational institutions, distance learning institution does not escape financial constraint and outback. The lack of resources in the economy of the developing countries often prevents distance education programme from being sustained, developed and extended. Due to this problem, the government of the affected countries have decided to oblige the students to pay their learning fees in order to cover the increasing proportion of expenditure for ODL. Some form of ODL is used in conventional institutions as a means of extending their market. This is the fourth trends. Joint-venture is being formed between educational and private sector institutions of various kinds. Conventional distinctions among different type of providers are being distorted, particularly within vocational and continuing education and training. The fifth trend is when the intense development of technology allows for new paradigms of access and new delivery system. "Continuous miniaturization of equipment, reduced costs, increased user flexibility, portability and integration offer a whole range of new opportunities. These changes can either lead to more effective centralized systems of development, and the distribution of educational services and software. They can also support a more open networked society with greater variation and more equitable access to educational resources through a network infrastructure" The final trend is the...
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