How Distance Learning is leading the Online Learning Revolution Distance/ Correspondence education has outgrown its limitations to become the chosen channel of higher education amongst the diverse Indian populace. From youngsters, to mid-career professionals and adults, distance learning is perceived as the “balancing” medium between different “jobs”. In addition, with higher education initiatives aimed at greater reach to the student-populace, distance education emerges as the flexible, affordable and accessible medium of pursuing higher studies. With the result; quality and credibility of distance/correspondence learning courses from universities of repute, are acknowledged by the job-industry as well. More so, with the internet penetration in the country, and the technological advancements, prospects of distance/correspondence learning courses are higher, through the online medium of learning. Add to that, e-learning suites are scaling up to the increasingly connected, mobile users, thereby edging distance/correspondence education close to the real-time classroom environment. Peer-networking using technology – Virtual Classroom Through any academic process, interaction with peers and faculty remains the “livewire” of learning. Interaction retains the “social” connect, which is so vital for human sustenance and knowledge growth. Sharing of ideas, knowledge transfer, brainstorming sessions, mutual engagement in peer-to-peer tutoring can deeply enhance the intellectual experience of a student. With the use of latest technology tools and facilities like student chat, faculty chat, discussion forums and student networks, distance education provides ample opportunites for peer to peer networking online. How can the essential peer-networking be achieved through distance education? Contrary to popular belief, a distance/correspondence learning student need not feel isolated in his/her space. New –age technologies have overcome the challenges of geographic dispersal of students, bringing them together on a single online interface. As the connectivity spans all accessible parts of the globe, software applications and e-learning suites have opened numerous, multimedia channels of learning to engage a distance learning student- peer-interaction, included. Let us explore the different channels of peer-networking of distance education, which can be leveraged: Discussion forums: There are several student discussion forums in the online space and many virtual classroom training sessions to get the “feel” of group-learning. Initiate your own threads of discussion/doubts-clearing and sorts. Networking forums: A networking sites host a huge number of users, connect with your peers through this channel. As an actively used multipurpose interface, you will find it easier to expand your peer community. The university’s social interface: Ensure to become a member of your university’s profile featured in any of the social networking sites. Most of the universities post updates about themselves and studentrelevant trends in thee market, on their online profiles. This way, you can make yourself visible to other members, who are studying the same course. Connect real-time: To achieve better student engagement, distance /correspondence education universities organize workshops, guest-lecture series and seminars, for students to derive better insights about market trends and industry standards. Make sure to participate in these events, where you have ample scope to meet your online peers and make the real social connect.
Achieving through distance/correspondence learning is a self-motivated process and with the technology-innovations, the learning process is not only enriched but unlimited in the borderless classrooms of the online space.