Strategies to Achieve the Mission
IGNOU has both short-term as well as long-term strategies to achieve its mission and realise its vision. The elements of the action plan to achieve the objectives are:
1. Total Quality Assurance
In the context of quality of education offered by the ODL institutions, IGNOU has approached the task at two levels: i) as an institution, and ii) as a system-leader.
i) IGNOU as an institution
The University is committed to quality and excellence in all its activities — teaching, research, training and extension. The norms for programme evaluation, performance indicators for operation of systems, mechanisms to inject vibrancy in assessment and evaluation, and rewarding merit, have been established. The University shall:
- Initiate the process of academic audit and engage in a serious exercise to revise its course materials, both print and audio-visual, by incorporating information on the latest developments in all areas of study;
- Designate the better-performing disciplines, schools, centres and institutes as centres of excellence;
- Develop an ever-evolving mechanism for continuing professional development for the teaching and support staff;
- Take education to the unreached and enable them to participate in national development through integrated local development; and
- Promote spirit of excellence in student support services.
ii) IGNOU as a system leader
It is now well recognised that open learning is the most viable option to make education accessible to all in India. However, it must offer quality education if it is to compete and collaborate with the conventional system. Due to its inherent character, the ODL system lends itself quite naturally to quality assurance and control. The University envisages a proactive role for itself by sharing professional capabilities and resources, to maintain and coordinate standards of Distance Education in the country. The University proposes to develop:
- Performance indicators for every sub-system;
- Scheme for creation/identification of centres of excellence in the ODL institutions;
- Inter-University Consortium for ICT-enabled education as well as a National Resource Centre for Research and Innovations in Distance Education;
- The University has established an autonomous body, the Distance Education Council, under its Act and Statutes to realise the goal of being a system leader.
2. Increasing Enrollment
For contributing to increasing the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in higher education, as envisaged in the Eleventh Five Year Plan, the University has drawn up an innovative strategy, by offering greater flexibility and openness in terms of:
- Course-wise enrollment so that learners can opt for a capsule of a few relevant courses which suit their requirements;
- Relaxed entry qualifications, particularly for disadvantaged sections;
- Preparing bridge courses to bring learners from educationally disadvantaged groups to the level of competence required for higher-level programmes;
- Encouraging State Open Universities (SOUs), correspondence course institutions (CCIs) and conventional universities in offering IGNOU courses to learners, by translating them in regional languages;
- Offering short-term courses for updating and upgrading knowledge and skills for the employed — professionals, educators, technologists, administrators and others — to meet the massive demand for trained workforce, in collaboration with respective national councils and controlling bodies;
- Offering differential fee structure to facilitate entry of the ‘have-nots’, in socially relevant, and professional programmes;
- Offering post-graduate and research degrees in all disciplines
- Taking education to low-literacy districts and communities in rural and remote areas;
- Offering programmes for special groups, women, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, and minorities; and
- Using ICT for community intervention and development.
3. Strengthening the Faculty
To provide sustainable access to quality education, an academic institution must have an internationally recognised faculty. In the context of global competition, it would, therefore, be prudent to pay due attention to the professional growth of the faculty by:
- Attracting the best talent — to enhance productivity, improve quality of courses and provide effective services to learners;
- Inviting visiting, tenured and adjunct faculty in unconventional interdisciplinary areas at the senior level. This will allow the University to augment its faculty resource base and enhance interaction with other universities and institutions;
- Enhancing resources to provide support for research;
- Training the faculty in interactive multimedia and online teaching and learning; and
- Institutionalising exchange programmes through the Inter-University Consortium.
4. Widening areas of study
To sustain its growth, the University should respond to change and provide relevant, contemporary programmes at all times — a paradigm shift from ‘you learn what we offer’ to ‘we offer what you want to learn'. Therefore, there is a need to widen the basket of courses in diverse areas of contemporary relevance. The University proposes to undertake newer initiatives such as:
- Addition of disciplines in existing Schools of Study, such as special education, intellectual property rights, telecommunications, e-learning, biotechnology, bio-informatics etc;
- Striking a balance between niche-market, skill-oriented courses and life-coping courses dictated by the needs of the society;
- Providing greater flexibility in course offerings, with possibility of lateral entry and exit points in degree programmes, including credit transfers;
- Offering online education with interactive multimedia support; and
- Offering specific programmes for in-service professionals to update and upgrade their knowledge and skills;
- As well as appreciation courses for adult citizens.
5. Research and Scholarship
The ODL system has a short history and, therefore, there is a paucity of relevant research on its various facets. For IGNOU, which intends to be a leader in the ODL system, it is absolutely essential to promote research and scholarship in the area. The University is keen to promote basic and applied research by:
- Offering research degree programmes in all Schools of Studies, which is expected to generate a vibrant and enabling environment in the University for conducting research;
- Providing facilities and liberal funding for independent discipline-based and systemic research;
- Identifying specific areas for institutional research, encouraging inter-disciplinary research teams, and devising mechanisms thereof;
- Allocating special funds to promote collaborative research with other distance learning institutions; and
- Encouraging discipline-specific systemic research to enhance quality of instructional delivery and learning for students.
6. Reaching the Unreached
The University has been mandated to reach out to the marginalised sections of our society. The efforts so far have been mainly confined to the professional development of the employed. There is a need to initiate special measures to attract learners from the disadvantaged groups. The major steps envisaged to achieve this are:
- Enhancing access by spreading the network of study centres from the district level to the block level;
- Networking with SOUs and CCIs and using ICT in a proactive way in difficult terrain and inaccessible regions;
- Strengthening the University's presence in the North-East, Jharkhand, Uttaranchal, Chhattisgarh, Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput region in Orissa, Jaisalmer and Barmer in Rajasthan and other low-literacy regions;
- Conducting special drives to enroll marginalised groups (Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, differently-abled, women learners) in the niche-market programmes;
- Using emerging and innovative technologies to provide access and opportunities to the differently-abled, tribals and women by cloning the best practices from successful models;
- Entering collaborations with national agencies and NGOs to increase the outreach of its programmes.
- Instituting special scholarships, stipends and fee waiver schemes with Government and other funding agencies to enable disadvantaged groups to pursue IGNOU programmes.
7. Effective Student-Support Services
Effective student-support services are an important pre-requisite for:
- Improving completion rate;
- Reducing drop-out rate;
- Providing sustainable, quality education; and
- Enhancing the credibility of the system.
- For making the support services effective, the University proposes the following:
- Equip all Study Centres and Regional Centres with adequate ICT equipment and other infrastructure to connect them with the Headquarters for prompt data transmission and retrieval, information sharing and redressal of learner difficulties.;
- Provide an opportunity for greater interaction with learners;
- Reduce response time in admission, distribution of material and declaration of results;
- Carry out tracer-studies on learner performance and experiences;
- Regularly monitor the quality of support services;
- Forge seamless convergence between open and conventional university systems; Increase use of interactive technology, mediated counselling and induction programmes;
- Evolve a more efficient database management system;
- Provide on-demand admission and examination;
- Forge alliances with conventional universities to facilitate collaborative educational projects student and faculty exchange, sharing of courses and credit exemption/transfer — leading to award of composite degrees; and
- Further strengthen links with public and private institutions and NGOs engaged in education and training.
8. Strengthening Extension Education
To strengthen extension education, it is important to relate it to teaching, learning and development. As a part of its strategy, the University would like to:
- Encourage capacity building in agriculture, animal husbandry, horticulture, natural-resource management, health, human rights, literacy, life coping skills, legal literacy, vocational skills, entrepreneurship, computer literacy, design, media studies, etc
- Be guided by the principles that education:
i) is accessible, affordable and relevant to the lives of the marginalised and the disadvantaged,and available at a place and time of their convenience;
ii) should improve the quality of life of the people;
iii) encourages income generation and promote self-employment; and
iv) builds on learner experience and indigenous knowledge.
v) Forge partnerships with government and non-government organisations, research institutions,universities, vocational institutions, industries, international agencies like UNESCO, COL, World Bank, WHO, ADB and others engaged in extension.
vi) Disseminate knowledge through technology enabled multi-purpose community learning centres in rural and urban areas.
9. Electronic Media in Education
In a diverse country like India, no single technology can be used on all occasions and for all purposes. The choice of technology should take into account availability, accessibility and acceptability. Priorities in the use of technologies for distance education will have to be different in different contexts. The possibilities of outreach and economy of scale are as important considerations for IGNOU as individualised access and interactivity.
Online education has already started influencing education and is destined to impact it in a big way in the future. IGNOU has also launched its online programmes. Web-based methods can supplement the teaching and learning processes for professional, need-based, vocational and other academic programmes. The support activities in other programmes would also be strengthened through centralised expert counselling based on fully interactive networks.
The University plans to periodically upgrade its online resources. These would include:
- Networking (internal) with Regional and Study Centres for quick data transmission, retrieval and flow of other information; and
- Ready access to online resources for students — walk-in admission and on-demand examination; on-line assignment generation; centralised computerised admission and instant confirmation; computerised and networked databases.
- The library services would make optimum use of technology by:
- Creating databases and digitalising content from internal and external resources to facilitate expeditious retrieval and dissemination of information;
- Developing a special collection of material on distance education and related fields such as education technology, online or web enabled education and learning, etc.;
- Digitalising full-text materials after obtaining copyright permission; and
- Utilisation of the full potential of the Internet by facilitating access to a vast array of resources for empowering distance learners.
- Distance education utilises ‘open media’. Educational inputs provided through broadcast modes are available to a majority of our learners. The University intends to diversify the presence of Gyan Darshan and Gyan Vani in range and content. The availability of extended C-band for TV broadcasting will be upgraded to KU-band in the Direct-to-Home (DTH) and Digital Terrestrial Television mode.
In addition to Gyan Darshan, IGNOU would have:
- Five more TV channels for technical education, secondary education, higher education, IGNOU's academic programmes, and for agriculture-based programmes. These would be effectively used for furthering the ODL system;
- A network of 40 FM-radio stations based across the country. These will be used in collaboration with the SOUs, the CCIs and conventional institutions, for delivery of education in regional languages; and
- Education-based TV transmission as well as FM-radio relays, that will be digitised for better technical quality, economy in costs and for better interactivity.
- Production and transmission of programmes will be gradually replaced by disc-based digital storage devices which will result in longer shelf-life, random access and retrieval, and improved storage.
- Visually-challenged learners can be reached more conveniently by creating documents in Braille, and audio programmes. For those with hearing impairment, video programmes will be produced.
National Network for Open & Distance Education (N-NODE) is envisaged in the Tenth Plan. It is a dedicated hybrid communication-network, which uses a combination of technologies, such as satellite communication, WILL and optical fibre. Such a network is essential for connectivity between IGNOU Headquarters, Regional Centres and Study Centres. IGNOU Headquarters will also be connected to all the SOUs. The community-based multi-purpose learning centres shall be based on the operationalisation of this model.
This networking will serve to meet the objectives of:
- Telecollaboration, in strategic matters, with the SOUs and also RCs;
- On-line admission and on-line results;
- Increased interactivity; and
- Quality promotion.