Future is open and online: Prof. Reddy
03 July, 2012
With the innovative use of technology, Open and Distance Learning (ODL) system has achieved flexibility in time, space, pace, medium, access and content.
While delivering the 17th G. Ram Reddy Memorial Lecture on the topic ‘Education in the 21st Century-Toward Virtual Universities and Technology Enabled Learning’ at IGNOU Convention Centre on July 2, Prof. D.N. Reddy, Chairman, Recruitment and Assessment Centre, Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), Ministry of Defense, stressed upon many facets of the ICT revolution in education in the 21st century.
Right from preparing the youth with requisite skills he covered the core challenges of the globalized education world. Outlining the necessary university policies like networking, benchmarking, knowledge sharing, advocacy, etc. he advocated the use of ICT technology through offline/online testing, mobile learning, online tutoring, digital learning resources and digital content management.
“Open and distance education was traditionally accepted as a model for providing flexibility in time and space of teacher and learner. With the innovative use of technology, it is now believed to achieve flexibility in time, space, pace, medium, access and content,” Prof Reddy, also member of University Grants Commission (UGC), said.
He emphasised on UNESCO's argument that it was virtually impossible to build the number of traditional post-secondary institutions to keep up with the increase in demand. The debate that the traditional universities represent a tremendous ongoing financial commitment when physical campuses classrooms need to be built, maintained, heated, cooled and secured is on.
While it is more than ever clear that open and online education will be the new form of education, it has significant implications on the pedagogical, economic and organisational methods.
Prof Reddy remarked that the global trends gave a growing confidence in open and online learning in achieving equity, access and quality. The trends of open access, learner-centered education and flexible learning support different styles of learning.
The open educational resources, courseware, e-content, learning objects and other e-learning and online applications have revolutionised distance education in a manner never before in the history of education, he added.
The learning opportunities on the Internet connect learners with distributed resources expanding the flexibility of learners. In most of the cases the availability of a PC and internet connection is sufficient to register for courses, attend classes, submit assignments, take examinations, ask questions, communicate with experts, discuss cases with peers, create and share educational content and resources on a global level, he further stated.
“While the Virtual Universities hold an all new promise, it is necessary to deliberate on India’s preparedness for this evolving model. Many of the components of this model are linked to the adoption of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). India has been on the forefront in meeting the demands of IT Global Workforce in the recent IT Revolution,” he added.
He took special note of the fact that government was doing its bit saying, “The adaptation of the rapid advancements in Information Technology has given it an edge and recognition in the global scenario. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Govt. of India, has given a huge thrust and priority to Education through ICT during the XI Plan period. The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) is an important initiative from MHRD.”
Stressing on the fact that India faces a number of challenges in this regard, Prof. Reddy remarked, “An important question that arises is whether we are converging or diverging the digital divide. Though initiatives like the National Knowledge Network (NKN) have linked large number of the educational institutions in the country, it is still the same fortunate few institutes on the Network of Institutes rather than the Institutes which are needy and remote. The successful integration of ICT is thus fundamental in implementing this evolving model.”
The Vice Chancellor, IGNOU, Prof. M. Aslam, in his presidential speech brought forward the university’s role as the premier ODL institution that bestows upon two principle responsibilities: one, that of establishing a sound institutional climate as well as policies and procedures that encourage fair, equitable and justiciable growth of ODL systems. Secondly, placements of mechanisms and measures that ensures quality of learning and unhindered access to learning for the marginalized, under privileged and deprived.
He announced that ODL has taken roots in the country and is now well accepted mode for imparting education and training and reaching the unreached with quality educational interventions at affordable cost.
Prof. D. Gopal, chairman of the committee for this lecture referred the founder of this university as the Father of Open Learning in India. “He [Prof. G. Ram Reddy] indeed set off a silent movement in education for all of us to sustain and take forward,” he said while delivering his welcome address.
He recollected the dream of Prof. G. Ram Reddy for using the ICTs as tools for disseminating education to all parts of the country. According to UNESCO adulation, this university has already become the living embodiment of inclusive knowledge society in a globalised world of learning.
The function was presided over by Prof. M. Aslam, VC, IGNOU and coordinated by Prof. D. Gopal Chairman, G. Ram Reddy Memorial Committee. U.S.Tolia, Registrar of the university delivered the vote of thanks.