IGNOU, DELHI The institute offers programmes across levels and domains making it one of the most sought after destinations for students
Selecting the right course and college is a crucial decision when you are looking for a distance learning programme. But unfortunately, very little information is available on the quality of content that a university delivers. So the decision usually becomes one of convenience. Our first query attempts to answer this conundrum. The list of courses that we have presented in this issue will help you in your search. There are mainly two reasons why one would opt for a distance learning programme
Credential to grow further
A sizable number of DL aspirants, especially those who aspire for professional programmes like the MBA, seek out a DL option since, they would be working and would have acquired the necessary skills to perform their jobs well. But the lack of right credential hurts them quite a bit. These professionals look for topical course-content, ease of interface, especially online support systems and flexible exam processes. Cost may not be the prime criterion for these individuals.
Correspondence is the only option
Nearly 11-12 million students clear the 10+2 examinations in the country. But not more than 5 million places are available in regular degree programmes across the country. And even if places are available, the prohibitive cost of acquiring a degree makes many students opt for the DL mode. Students look for cost-effective alternatives, at least an acceptable level of contact either through study centres and prompt examination schedules. But both the above aspirants should know the questions that we answer here.
Q: Which universities are good in DE? If all universities offer the same degree approved by UGC, then how do I know which one is better?
A: Academic institutes in India offer numerous distance education programmes. These can be compared on the basis of content of the programme, number of counselling sessions, type and experience of faculty members, interaction between the faculty and students and pedagogy of teaching. Dr. R Krishnakumar, VC of YCMOU says, “It would not be correct on my part to make comparisons between Distance Education providing universities. However, if a university has established a reputation over the years, offers the kind of courses that learners need, responds sensitively to the needs and difficulties of its learners and seriously cares about quality, then it is a good university.” Therefore, aspirants should make their choice among the UGC-approved universities, based on their own assessment of the above parameters.
Q: How important is faculty in distance education?
A: While pursuing distance education, students get least opportunity to interact with teachers due to the absence of regular classes. Mostly secondary means of information like Internet and libraries help in clearing doubts. However, a doubt cleared by a teacher can never be supplemented and here the role of the faculty members becomes important in distance education. During contact classes (irrespective of how many) students should try to interact with the faculty as much as they can for better understanding of the course curriculum, exam pattern, etc. Institutes maintain that they are not biased in recruiting teachers for their distance learning courses, but some students disagree on this.
Prof. NS Ramesh Murthy
Hone your creative skills!
Director School of Continuing Education, YCMOU
The BSc (MGA) can be pursued by graduates from any stream. During the first year, courses on Basic Computer Operations, Internet, multimedia and Presentation Software are introduced for those who are not initiated in the use of computer tools.
In second year the skills of web-based digital arts including training in HTML, content digitisation, designing web pages artistically using Dreamweaver software, developing dynamic web pages using Java and VB scripts are taught.
The third and the final year are reserved for 3D animation. Two of the most popular platforms for the development of animation used by the professionals in studios are thoroughly practiced by the students though the various theory and practical courses in Maya and 3DS Max.
The students are trained in skills, which may empower them to take up jobs as script writers, creative copy writers, animators, web designers and producers. We are designing and developing these programmes with a difference.
MANAGING TIME Working and studying at the same time is quite a challenge
Q. Can you suggest me some courses for which I don’t need to attend too many classes?
A: As commonly noted by faculty and scholars of DL programmes, the methodology and philosophy of distance education does not have a place for ‘lectures’. The idea is that the learner is mature and capable of taking a decision on what and how to learn. The self-instructional material in the form of printed books in addition to e-books, video or audio programmes are made available to the learner by the university and/or the study centre library. A number of free Internet resources from open courseware movement are also available to the learner. One has the right to choose what best suits his/her taste, study habits, working conditions and other considerations. If, in spite of these learning avenues, one still has doubts, or conceptual difficulties of academic nature, there is a provision of face-to-face interaction known as ‘contact sessions’ for the learners. In any case, attendance at the contact sessions is optional. If your work or place of employment does not permit much free time at the convenient hours of the day, you may take such courses which do not need practical sessions. “The theory-oriented standalone programmes like BA, BCom and BLib are suitable for such people. Courses which require a great deal of practical exposure (for instance, those in hospitality, tourism, catering, fashion and architecture) are less suitable for such people. Society expects professionals in such areas to have the necessary hands-on skills in addition to the knowledge of the trade,” says Prof. R V Vadnere, Director School of Continuing Education, YCMOU, Nashik.
Get savvy about consumer laws
Global websites offering full courses
|LAB SESSIONS are must for science, technical and some other subjects|
Q: If a fresh graduate wants to do an MBA or Master’s degree through Distance Learning but do not have any work experience. Will it really help?
A: In an age where professional education has proliferated, getting a job without a Master’s degree (or an MBA) is getting increasingly tough. And if offered, mostly the job is either elementary or mediocre in nature. In such a scenario, getting equipped with an MBA degree increases your prospects of landing a good job, irrespective of whether it is done in regular mode or distance education mode. According to Prof. Jayant Sonwalkar, in India most of the students do an MBA without experience, except in IIM’s and a few other institutions. The trend in developed countries is just the opposite. Students do MBA only after work experience of four to five years. Doing MBA with work experience always help as one can understand better what is being taught in the programme. It is not essential to have prior work experience for joining distance mode programmes. Over 30 percent of students in distance mode either are working or start working after they join such a programme. This basically helps in supporting their families financially. “In some courses, work experience is always desirable; it is an issue like theory versus practice. Master’s is a higher degree, so there has to be perfection all along. Hence, the institutions prescribe the eligibility accordingly,” says Prof. AP Mishra, Dr HS Gaur Sagar University. But considering the fact that the number of B-Schools are on the rise, and nearly half of the 3.5 lakh MBAs produced in the regular stream not getting jobs, do not have unrealistic expectations.
Dr. Sandeep Tandon,
Professor & HoD Commerce,
No work experience is required for pursuing Master’s through distance mode. Only for BEd course, experience of two years is required and candidate should be in service at the time of admission
Q: I am an Arts student in Class XII; can I opt for a science course during graduation?
A: “The students can join any graduate courses in their respective streams but if any Arts student wishes to join any Science course, he/ she will have to pass the Science paper additionally at XI and XII level. They can also join courses like BBA, BA in Tourism, ” says Prof. RK Sharma, Director, Directorate of Distance Education, Kurukshetra University. There are large number of graduate programmes to choose from: BSc (Hospitality & Catering Services), BSc (Interior Design), BSc (Fashion Design), BSc (Biotechnology), BSc (Bio-Informatics), BSc (Actuarial Science), BSc (Medical Laboratory Technology), BSc (Optometry), BSc (Industrial Drug Science), BSc (Business Information Science) etc.
A comprehensive LLM programme
Junior counsel/associate of Advocate Vikram Chaudhri,
I opted for distance education for my LLM from Kurukshetra University, because many people recommended the course. The programme is comprehensive and offers many specialisations. I chose Business Laws.
My learning experience during the two years was great as the university and the teachers offer not just lectures and notes, but go that extra mile to help students. The second year of the course provides for a compulsory dissertation, which has to be made on a law topic chosen by the student. Along with Business Law it also offers specialisation in Labour Laws, Constitutional Law, Environment Law and Administrative Law as well. Another point of consideration while opting for the distance education course in Kurukshetra University is the faculty and the support of the University in completing the course. Master’s degree is of great importance in today’s competitive world and even though it is a distance education course, still the benefits of the degree from one of the known and best universities in India has helped me in making a mark in the field professionally.
However, I would also like to see Criminal Law offered as a specialisation. Apart from that the course offers everything that a student can ask for in a Master’s degree in a distance or a regular course. From my experience, I would recommend the course highly to anyone who wants to opt for a distance LLM.
|PROFESSIONAL COURSES Choose a good institute to pursue technical courses|
Q. Would it be useful to pursue a professional course in distance mode?
A: It is important to note that there is basically no difference in the syllabi and curricula of full-time courses and distance education courses by the same institute if they are approved by a regulatory body. But yes, practical training matters a lot in professional courses and it is important to mention here that good institutes offering professional courses make sure that students get maximum practical exposure and training.
Prof. RK Sharma from Kurukshetra University shares that good institutes have the provision for personal contact programme, where students take practical training and it is mandatory to pass the practical test before they appear for the final exam. “We emphasise on making use of the practical knowledge gained by students who are working professionals in preparing their project work, normally on the actual work that they do in their organisation. The practical exposure of industry experts and work experience of students are put to test the concepts which they learn during their course at the institute, leading to greater confidence in theoretical framework matching with practical exposure,” says
Dr. NK Dhooper, Director IMT-CDL, Ghaziabad.
Prof. Ravi Gor from BAOU, Ahmedabad shares that nowadays in public-private-partnership mode, the universities can or rather have entered into partnership with educational providers who take care of the online format and have ICT- enabled facilities. Having those educational providers as an intermediary between a university and a study centre definitely gives a better experience to the student. That is why pursuing a professional course or even vocational course from a distance university which has such tie-ups is advantageous for students. “We also have such tie-ups. We do have a very good tie-up with Institute of Hotel and Tourism Management (IHM) and the university also has a good link with hotel industry. So when a student goes to these hotels for training, he gets hands-on experience there and the university teaching happens in IHM,” he adds.
I did PG Diploma in Journalism & Mass Communication but wanted to do a Master’s. Kurukshetra University provided me the opportunity as I got lateral entry in second year. I am happy that professionals have the option to upgrade their qualification through professional distance courses
Q. What are open source programmes? Is there any merit in registering for them?
A: Massively. Open Online Courses (MOOCs), delivered by faculty at the world’s top schools allow a much larger student-body to partake of their benefits, both on account of the cost reduction from not having to accommodate them on campus, as well as allowing them to complete the degree requirements at their own pace and time while retaining their jobs. AFTP courses (www.academictrader.org) can be taken for free by students worldwide, not just those in India. The objective of offering these courses for free is to democratise quality higher education to a broader community of students, researchers, and practitioners around the world, particularly in developing countries, who do not otherwise have access to quality higher education from faculty at the world’s top business schools. Students can receive a certificate of completion signed by the professor upon successful completion of the course. As students can verify during their coursework, many of the academic stock market prediction methods offered on AFTP provide returns in line with those of leading mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Students develop their investment profiles while taking the courses, specifying their risk tolerance, investment objectives, and a host of other parameters that can influence their financial decisions. After successful completion of the courses, they are offered the opportunity to choose their preferred trading strategy and to receive step-by-step instructions on how to place associated trades that are tailored to their personal investment objectives, online. These services are fully automated, and personalised computations are made in massively parallel fashion for thousands of students simultaneously.
Top open source learning sites
http://futurelearn.com/ (UK universities)
http://www.khanacademy.org/ (Salman Khan)
http://www.academicearth.org/ (Ivy league US universities)
Q. I could not complete Class 12. What are my distance learning options?
A: SNDT Women’s University’s Centre of Distance Education (in Juhu, Mumbai) has the University Entrance Test (UET) in Arts or Commerce programme for women students who could not complete Class 12. On clearing the test, you can seek admission to SNDT University’s B.Com (I) or BA (I). However, passing the test is not the same as passing Class 12, as post the programme you can pursue graduation only at SNDT. The UET comprises four papers, and it must be completed in six months and costs Rs 1,500. The medium of instruction for Arts is English, Hindi, Gujarati and Marathi, while Commerce is only available in English. “We have women who have completed PG or even PhD in this process. This examination is conducted twice a year in December and June,” shares Dr GY Shitole, Professor & Head, Department of Commerce, SNDT Women’s University. For more details, visit http://cde.sndt.ac.in/cde-juhu-courses.htm
IGNOU offers a similar option, however, the Bachelor Preparatory Programme (BPP) is open to both male and female students. Again, this programme is not equivalent to Class XII but on clearing the BPP, students can enrol for graduate degree programmes at IGNOU, ranging from BA and B.Com to Bachelor of Social Work. Offered in Oriya, English, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, Malayalam and Gujarati medium, students can select any two of these courses - Preparatory Course in General Mathematics, Preparatory Course in Social Sciences and Preparatory Course in Commerce. You can get more details from www.ignou.ac.in or contact your nearest IGNOU regional centre/study centre. The programme costs Rs 1,000.
Since passing the BPP a is not considered equivalent to passing Class XII, it is safer to pursue Class XII through distance learning. For instance, the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) offers the Senior Secondary Course . The minimum fee is Rs 1000, plus extra for those who want to take more subjects and languages. You can take the exams either in April or October-November, based on when you register. For more details, you can visit http://www.online.nios.ac.in/niosreg10/premain.asp
NIOS subjects for Senior Secondary Course
Group-A: Hindi, English, Urdu, Sanskrit
Group-B: Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, Political Science, Economics, Commerce, Accountancy, Home Science, Word Processing, Psychology, Computer
|LEGAL STUDIES IPR, taxation, cyber laws are areas that are catching up now|
Q: What are the upcoming areas in Law, which can be pursued by graduates or lawyers looking to enhance credentials?
A: Law mirrors the growth and changes in the society and the economy, and hence is constantly changing and evolving. With the impetus in growth and development in the Indian scenario new regulations and laws are necessary to monitor and manage the emergence of new sectors and the changing face of the business environment and the economy. Areas such as Competition Law, Mergers and Acquisitions, Intellectual Property Law, Securities Law cater to this post-liberalisation era and the global nature of our economy. Similarly, areas such as Infrastructure Laws, Cyber Laws, Aviation Laws, Maritime Laws, Sports Law are fast gaining prominence to keep up with the commercialisation of services in sectors such as Aviation and Infrastructure and the recent emergence of eCommerce, Sports, Media and Entertainment industry. Our education system has not kept pace with the changing needs and it’s therefore critical that legal and other professionals ensure that their skills are updated on a constant basis. The programmes available on mylaw.net precisely serve this need.
By Antony J Alex CEO, Rainmaker (mylaw.net)
Q: When should one apply for admission for DL programmes?
A: Anytime for most of the institutes! This is one of the main benefits of opting for a distance learning programme. Generally, the application process for regular programmes begins in the months of May or June with the sale of prospectus and comes to an end by the first week of July and once you miss the application deadline you will have to wait till the next academic session begins. But this is not the case when it comes to learning through distance mode. The admission process goes on throughout the year. IGNOU gives you the opportunity to take admission in any non-entrance based programme at any point of time of the year. For some institutes the admissions are twice in a year - first time for July session and then again for the January session. The admission sought under this scheme is governed by the academic cycle of the institute concerned. This means, if you take admission prior to the last date for July cycle, your admission will be for July cycle (provided programme is on offer in July cycle) and if you apply after admission is closed, your admission will be for subsequent cycle. The benefit is that you will get study material much before commencement of an academic cycle. “Admissions to Lovely Professional University’s Distance Education programme are extended twice a year – March to May and June to October. The students can enrol now for the forthcoming session, “ says Ashok Mittal, Chancellor, LPU.
Professor Dr G Y Shitole
Professor & Head, Department of Commerce,
SNDT Women’s University
The PG Diploma in School Counselling offered by SNDT’s Centre of Distance Education is designed with an objective to understand the needs and the problems of children and adolescents. It attempts to learn the art of guidance and counselling, know the psychology of adjustment and child psychology in children and adolescents. The course also familiarise aspirants with statistical and research approaches in behavioural science and help to develop an awareness about educational and vocational opportunities available to school students. The course duration is two years plus a 3-month internship in schools. The fee is Rs 20,000. The learning resources comprise material in print format; previous years’ question papers; printed guidance material; personal contact sessions at our Mumbai campus; recorded lectures in CD and counselling via email, phone, post and in person. The programme opens doors for you to work as an independent counsellor at national and international schools, and provide consultancy services to schools up to Class 12. The qualification required for admission to this programme is Bachelor’s in Arts/Commerce/Human Development/Early Childhood Education/Development Counselling/Education (at least two papers in psychology) from any recognised university/institute. Students from non-psychology backgrounds will be required to complete a certificate course in Guidance & Counselling offered by CDE.
Q: What kind of courses should one pursue in distance mode?
A: According to experts, first and foremost you should decide your learning objectives: why do you wish to do a course? If you wish to take a generic degree so that you can take up general administrative jobs (or wish to have a degree for promotion in job) or if you wish to study courses in standalone disciplines like Sociology, History or Commerce, you should obviously opt for BA or B.Com. Education through distance mode for such studies helps, as you do not need to go the college on a regular basis. You can study using the specially- prepared study material, which is designed to be self-sufficient for distant learners.
If, on the other hand, you wish to take a plunge into professional programmes and are already associated with a career in that profession, you may take up specialised professional programmes. If you wish to take up a job in hospitality industry you may do a Bachelor’s course in Hospitality & Tourism Studies or in Catering Services. Obviously, you will need to visit the study centres to complete the practical activities which are part and parcel of the profession. Without practical training it doesn’t work. Some industries also provide stipend to the learners. Thus learning is coupled with earning and becomes an enjoyable activity!
If a student wants to choose a mainstream subject like science he/she gets the flexibility to attend classes and counselling sessions during weekends. Some open universities have online courses where one may opt not to go to the counselling centre. If someone has an interest in add-on course, say certificate in creative writing, one can pursue the same simultaneously along with the mainstream course. So it is always good to take up a course as per your need and interest.
Q: I have been given admission in a DL institute. What documents do I need to submit during admissions?
A: Typically, institutes need mark sheets, transfer certificate, and eligibility certificate as well as migration certificate in case of students from other universities. Some institutes also ask for a birth certificate to ascertain if you are above the minimum age. For executive management programmes, candidates may need to submit competitive exam scores.