Types of Distance Learning Systems in India
Distance learning began in India to bring education to those who could not afford to attend regular classes in conventional universities or colleges. Over the years, people have used various terms to refer to distance education - correspondence education, independent study, distributed learning, flexible learning, open learning and now with the introduction of technology into distance education, newer terms are cropping up - online learning, e-learning, computer-based training (CBT), Internet-based training (IBT) or web-based training (WBT).
Distance education is learning through technical media (printed material, audio material, video material, digital material) when there is a separation or distance between the teacher and the learner.
Distance learning systems in India can broadly be divided into the following types:
1. Open Universities: They were originally set up to only offer programmes of study through distance education mode. Examples of open universities in India include the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University (BRAOU), Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Nashik etc. The Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University was the first Open University to be set up in India in 1982. Now we have one national Open University (IGNOU) and 13 state open universities in India.
2. Dual Mode Universities: These universities offer regular campus-based programs as well as distance learning programs like the University of Delhi (DU) and University of Mumbai. After DU introduced correspondence courses in 1962, other conventional universities began to offer various programmes through correspondence courses and thus set up Distance Education Institutions (DEI) and/or Correspondence Courses Institutes (CCI).
These dual mode universities serve the educational needs of more than 1.5 million students in India. The total enrolments in correspondence/distance education in the dual mode universities are much larger than enrolment in the open universities. Other examples of such dual mode universities include Annamalai University (DDE), Acharya Nagarjuna University (CDE) and the ICFAI University Sikkim.
3. Mixed Mode Universities: Such universities offer a wide variety of modes of study to the learners - regular campus programmes, distance education through traditional methods like printed material and contact classes, and now the increasingly popular technology-based online degrees. Amity University and Lovely Professional University (LPU) are examples of mixed mode universities.
However, it is interesting to note that with advances in technology and the increasing penetration of the internet in India, the thin line dividing these different types of distance learning systems is slowly fading with open universities like IGNOU now offering online programmes as well.