ECT 300 EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY: What do we mean by distance education?



9a ii). Examine the various forms of distance education.

9.4 Forms of distance education

There are various forms of distance education. It is worth noting on the outset that an effective distance education program should be a good mixture of the forms. The first form of distance education is correspondence education. Here learning materials are mailed to students in their localities when they use the materials, do assignments or projects and post back the work to the institution. This work is marked and sent back to the learner with appropriate remarks/corrections and the instructional materials for the next piece of work. This approach has been successfully used in Pakistan for training under-qualified primary school teachers.

The second form of distance education known as external studies. Just like in the first form the learner use the instructional materials away from the college/university, but in addition there could be teaching/learning centers spread over the whole country or catchment area. Also there could be the possibility of occasional residential sessions to give learners a chance to interact with their tutors.

The third form of distance education is through the use of educational broadcasts. This form involves the use of radio, television and lately the internet in reaching the learners. The learners receive support materials for the courses well before the broadcasts. They go through the materials and wait for the broadcasts to facilitate learning. Again the learners do assignments or projects and submit the same for marking and feedback from the tutors. For successful use of their broadcasts, there is a need for thorough planning in the distribution of the accompanying printed matter.

The fourth form of distance education is through in-service programs. This is useful in situations where there is need to update workers who are already serving. Over a long time this becomes necessary in order to acquaint workers with new skills; familiarize them with modern ideas and technology. In some cases, the workers might have been serving without any pre-service training and were learning on the job. Certification should be the ultimate expectation of the trainees. This cadre of workers need to be trained during spare time without necessarily withdrawing them from their workplaces for significantly longer periods. In service, programs are ideal for untrained teachers, agricultural extension workers, social, health workers etc.

The fifth form of distance education is through the organizing of Radio study groups. In these form trainees listen to radio programs especially designed to equip them with relevant skills and knowledge. The trainees are encouraged to listen to these programs in their various groups and implement some of the knowledge acquired. This has been used successfully in Columbia for adult peasants especially in areas such as health, social work and agriculture.

The sixth form of distance education is Extension service. Governments the world over pays special attention to small-scale entrepreneurs as they control a significant proportion of the GDP. This could be in areas such as agriculture, business, manufacturing etc. Extension service is also useful in health and other community-related services.

The seventh form of Distance education is audio Teleconferencing. This is a Distance education technology that overcomes the one way limitation of radio. It is an extension of a basic telephone call that allows instruction and interaction between individuals and groups at two or more locations. Through the use of microphones, amplifiers and high quality speakers, member of the audience can both hear and be heard. It allows for live two–way interaction between two or more physically separated sites.

In summary, distance education programs should be a mixture of the forms named above. For example at the Open university of the United Kingdom, 80% of the instruction is done using printed materials (correspondence), 10% through broadcasting (radio and TV) and 10% through face to face.



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