Communication Technology for Enhancement and Transformation of Open Education: The Experience at the Indira Gandhi National Open University in India

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF1 // IGNOU is one of the ten mega universities in the world, and one among the five open universities. Its objective is to cater to the ever changing and increasing educational needs of the people within and outside India. It disseminates knowledge using a diversity of means, and encourages distance/open learning system in the country. The university performs diverse roles and functions as an open university, as a national resource centre as well as an apex body. Empowerment of people is the main concern of the University and therefore its policies, programmes and methods have been recognised and appreciated by the people of the country. In order to meet continuing education needs of various sectors, a policy has been adopted to offer short-term, self-contained knowledge and skill based modules for those who want professional and technical development (IGNOU, 1988a). The programmes, such as tannery workers' training, construction workers' skill standardization, training of rural youth and Panchayati Raj functionaries, training of functionaries associated with primary schools, etc. are undertaken as extension activities. In the last 12 years of its operation, IGNOU has 39 academic programmes and 486 courses for 4,30,832 students on roll (IGNOU, 1998). It has a huge networks of 21 regional centres and 315 learning centres to coordinate student support services all over the country and a team of 17,991 academic coordinators to help the students resolve the problems related to their study. // There exists a sophisticated, state-of-the-art media centre, which has audio and video studios, postproduction and duplication facilities. The centre is equipped with satellite-based communication system and is being used for live interaction with learners. The University owns an electronic media library equipped with 692 audio and 695 video programmes. // Besides catering to the needs of Indian learners, currently the IGNOU programmes are on offer in Bahrain, Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Sultanate of Oman in the Middle East Asia. A proposal to offer its programmes in Seychelles, Maldives, Nepal and Caribbean countries is underway. With these operations, IGNOU is trying to change its form and functions in response to the modern communication technologies, to cope up with the immense pressure of learners from all over the country (Takwale, 1995). IGNOU can rightly be proud of its innovations and expertise in distance education and is becoming a major innovator in the use of communication technology in teachinglearning at a distance. //