VIEW POINT: Unknown Flexibilities of Open Learning System
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Dr. S. Ganesan
‘Known is little; unknown is ocean’. It is normally quoted for human knowledge purposes. The four walled formal education system has its own traditional procedures, rules and regulations; due to which it looks rigid or closed system. To meet the changing demands of learners, the new system of education called as ‘Correspondence Education/Distance Education/Open Learning System’ emerged as alternative channel of education. This new system has now completed more than 50 years in India; but, still its potential with special reference to its in-built flexibilities are unknown to many. Interestingly, even the students of ODL system are unaware of many student- friendly- provisions of ODL.
No age bar for seeking admission in ODL is, to a larger extent, known flexibilities to general public. The minimum age to take admission in ODL system like IGNOU, is completion of 18 years. Naturally, when one completes Senior Secondary Schooling he/she reaches 18-years and becomes eligible for university level education. The relaxation of age in ODL system provides higher education opportunities to people with age of 80 plus also. In other words, the range of age of ODL students starting from 18-years and ends at 80+ years old.
Mobility: The frequent movement of adult learner from one place to another is inevitable now. For instance, one working in Central Government Service gets frequent transfers once in 3 years also. The change in place of work should not affect his/her learning. To facilitate such mobile persons, IGNOU like National/International Educational Provider has its network of Study Centres all over the Country/World. By just informing the new address, a learner can continue the studies at new location without any difficulty. On production of student Identity Card, one can attend classes at any Study Centre of the ODL University. Similarly, the submission of home-based assignments can be deposited at any Study Centre for evaluation. The omni presence of Learner Support Centres (LSC) provides both academic and administrative services at all places of India. Even the less populated places like Nicobar, Lakshadweep Islands have also centres of IGNOU, to reach the unreached sectors.
The work force of A & N Islands, normally visit main land during June or December months. Even during such temporary visits, a learner of IGNOU can give his/her exams of his/her choice at any part of India. In other words, a registered student of A & N Islands can appear in exams at Chennai and continue the education as hassle free. Interestingly, few learners have requirements to take few exams at Port Blair during beginning of June month and will stay at Chennai during mid/end of June for other few exams. Appearing in the exams at different locations at different time are possible now in ODL system. For the same, the permission of Exam Centres and Regional Controlling Offices of the University can be obtained easily. Think of a situation, when you are permitted to take exams at Port Blair during 1-5 June; at Chennai during 8-12 June and again at Port Blair during 13-17 June. Do not you feel that no one can stop your education unless you think so?
For some persons of international movement, one can give few exams in India and the rest at his/her new Country such as Sri Lanka, UAE etc. The restriction free movement as per student’s choice and convenience gets priority in ODL system. The ICT (Information & Communication Technology) also provides such flexibilities in Student Support Services. Similarly the submission of project report at one place and facing (face-to-face /tele-mode) the viva-voce at other centre is also possible.
Early Declaration of Exam Results
You have an interview in next couple of months for which you require your Master Degree qualification. But, your second year exams are to be held in one month time . Sometime, the process and publication of exam results take 3-4 months also. Under this situation, if you are provided with facility to get your exams results quickly, that too, well before your interview dates. Then, you will feel happy and comfortable. Such flexibility is also required for taking admission in higher studies with closing dates. Considering the special requirements of distance learners of such situations, IGNOU like ODL system provides to apply for early declaration of exam results. With specific reasons and documentary evidences one can submit the exam form well in advance especially for these purpose and it will be handled separately by the ODL system.
It is a common procedure that the ODL system does not insist on formats for your communication. You need not worry about the ‘Form’ or ‘Application Form’ etc. for many communication purposes. For example, just submit your own letter with your own language to ‘change your address’ in university records. None will reject your letter as it is not in the prescribed form. Your communication is important rather than the design of the format. If all required details are provided in your simple plain paper letter/e-mail, the need of ‘prescribed form’ disappears. The advancement in technology also supports to introduce more and more such new flexibilities in ODL system. Few such facilities are on-line admission, simple e-mail request, complaint at portal, communication through SMS on mobile, etc.
There are lot many such flexibilities of ODL system which also still unknown and under-utilized by even needy learners. We will give exposure of few more important flexibilities –viz. ‘fee exemption for SC/ST’, ‘marks relaxation for Disable applicants’, ‘walk-in admission’(365 days) ‘e-learning materials’, ‘attend class at home via IRC/TC/webcast etc., in our future articles.
(The author is Regional Director of IGNOU, Regional Centre, Port Blair and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org (M-8900936718)