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Distributed Education: Learning and Beyond www.manipalu.com

Thimmiya A.M Sr. Vice President & Head– Distributed Learning, Manipal Education

Manipal Education provides with a service of distance education. Can you tell us about the importance of distance learning and skills education? Present day distance learning is based on ideology of creating and building on human capital. It has moved to another level all together with objective of creating substantial work force that can aid in raising the economy of a country to newer heights. The former is supportive of what is known as the ‘Earn & Learn’ model. This model enables people who are already in jobs or people who want to get into jobs, to avail educational opportunities whereby they can learn the fundamentals of a particular skill and gather knowledge from hands-on practicals with certification. Scope of vocational training is now being realised at a wide scale. This is applicable right from 10+2 level to Post Graduation. There is provision of scalability in between employment. ODL programmes help in enhancing career profiles. 40

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What are the challenges in the field of distance education? Rather than a specific challenge, be it across – distance education or campus education – is employment versus employability. The biggest challenge is whether people today fit into their work spaces or not. I think the challenge that organisations face is that they need people firstly and with full productivity, gone are the days when they could hire people put them for induction for years and then get productivity out of them. So they need people on priority basis who can give immediate productivity. So largely distance education appeals to people who are working largely education appeals to people who are working. So they bring with them their experince, that exposure of the practical work and the course is also laid out in such a manner that it helps them optimise their productivity. Our courses are also geared to meet the challenges. We have in our own way tried to design the curriculum including lot of practical experiences, presenting real-life situations so that candidates are more competent. In formal learning streams, all subjects are not possible to find and that is where distance learning education opens doors to different courses. What is your understanding of the eLearning scenario w.r.t distance education? eLearning is basically seeing a paradigm shift. From Teacher – Centric to Learner – Centric in both campus nad distance education. We have come up with inititaives like EduNext, which is collaborative learning – which addresses the issue of teacher and student centric learning. Now earlier in Teacher centric mode, teacher would come teach and go and student would also go bakc home and learn from what teacher had taught. So what answers were gathered were the ones taught, while,

in a learner centric mode, a student can browse for information, and gather as much information as student wants. The challenge equally exists for the teacher fraternity, with technology that has come to stay. Everything and every information is available flexibily anywhere, at any time. What are the kind of support does an education service provider like yourself, expect of the government? I think support isn’t the correct thing that we seek, it is the clarity that we want. I think if rules and regulations are not opaque or grey, and there is a clear cut policy and farmework, of what can be and what can not be done with no ambiguity on that one; but keeping in view all the aspirations and flexibility. The rules that are rigid are not helpful. Inclusiveness and expansion are two things that are to be implemented if you need to proceed with any action in relation to above. What do you opine of PPP, especially, when people mostly see it as a profiteering collaboration for the private sector? You listen to any world leader, from developed or a developing country, you will find two important pegs in that, one is education and health. We at Manipal Education, ever since inception 57 years back we have dedicated ourselves to education and health. We did not enter this sector becasue of the commercial aspect. The amount of investment we made, that people asked us not to for various reasons, was made for a casue not profit. And distance education is a cause to support increase in GER. Even the courses that we initially started were to provide customised and professional education to the masses. As well as to help the existing professional sector. \\


digitalLEARNING-Apr-2010-[40]-Distributed Education Learning and Beyond-Thimmiya A.M