Practical self experience with Distance Learning?

“It is really quite simple, today, to get the education content you want, when and where you want it.  Distance learning has come a long way over the past 25 years.  The technology involved works and it is easy.  The collaboration with other students work and it is enriching.  Today distance learning offers all of us a viable educational and professional growth opportunity.  The challenge to us...just do it! 


Dr. Ray L. Steele, President and Chairman of Board Emeritus, USDLA and Distinguished Professor, Center for Information and Communication Sciences, Ball State University



Introduction and Concepts in Distance learning

What is distance learning

Explanation of Various Terms.

Glossary of Web Based learning


Practical self experience with Distance Learning?

Difference between Distance Education and Correspondence Courses

 Can skill oriented courses be covered by DE?

Technologies used in distant education

Instructional Qualities for Web Based Learning

Challenges of Web-based Learning

DE in providing medical education to non traditional students

Teacher and student qualities for distance education

Assignment - Preparation of Distance Learning Module

Evaluation of Distance Learning

Advantages and Disadvantages of e-Learning

Famous quotes

Discussion end- Compliments from Sir & Friends

Summary - Distance Learning


I would like to share my personal experience of DL here.
I did that management course " Postgraduate diploma in Hospital & healthcare management" with Symbiosis Centre of healthcare, Pune. It is affiliated to Symbiosis International university and also offers Diploma courses by distance learning in " Medicolegal systems" as well as "Clinical research".

It was really a very good experience, for the course content was very well planned and gave me an opportunity for professional upgradation as per my convenience.
They gave first the subject modules and then assignments, which were submitted online. Then there was a Log Book which was to be completed and sent as a hard copy. I was also required to do a project and submit a report which again could be either online or as a hard copy.

Looking back, there is sure a possibility of proxy performance as you can get your assignments and other reports done and submitted by someone else. But then who can spare so much time and do it for you. Besides if you do it for acquiring a certain skill on your own initiative, why would you not want to do it yourself.

One more concern about DL experience was fear of technology failing you. This happened when there was problem with internet and a deadline for submission of a particular assignment was very close. It really gave me tense moments! Even in our current discussion which is again a DL format, technology failure is a constant irritant.

But overall DL offers an excellent opportunity to upgrade oneself


  Sajjad Sheikh
The CMCL-FAIMER fellowship programme has been my first experience with distance learning and web-based learning. The difference that I could feel is that distance learning provides us a choice to learn at our will and not necessarily be forced to stringencies of a formal class-room. Since the instructional material is recorded, the learner can easily review the previous lessons, correlate and assimilate the knowledge at his convenience. The list-serv has been a profoundly
interesting experience and I have enjoyed every moment of learning and
benefited extensively from it.
Correctly defined as an educational paradigm. Although very old but is of more & more use now a days due to many faster means of communication coming into picture.
Lot of knowledge is available which can be exchanged by this means where no one has time.
Your experience of distance education is in reality experience of everybody in our whole faimer family. It’s really a live example of a novel method of learning.

  S. Ziaur Rahman

 Once in a meeting of educationists at USA, I was asked to present a descriptive report on distance education with a special reference to Indian scenario, which I did. For all my colleagues, here is the ppt presentation which I presented. Hope it may through some light on the ongoing discussion. If there is any shortcoming, please do discuss them. The title of the presentation was “India’s Medical Schools Utilization of Distance Learning/e-learning”. 
Here is the second presentation on DE related to my subject.
 CONVERGEN...pptx (52.8 KB).

 Dear Dr. Praveen
 Please see the attached presentation on Telemedicine.
Telemedic...ppt (229.5 KB)


Ziaur Rahman, Very nice seeing your interaction towards distance education. Presentation is very nice well elaborating and covering various fronts of medical education incorporating distance education.
One thing which needed clarification was the duration of preclinical course in India. As per your presentation it is one and half years but as far as my knowledge goes it has become one year since 1997 by Medical Council of India.
What was the forum where this was discussed?
Regarding telemedicine may we know what is DIC & CAL??
My first instinct was to say that the FAIMER listserv is my only experience in distance education. But as I thought a little more I realized that I have been exposed to various forms of distance learning right from school. Allow me to tell you a little and the problems/ advantages I see with each medium.

1. Doordarshan's Gyanvani (can't remember the exact name, but it was an educational programme created by UGC for television):
I remember rushing back from school to be in time to catch this 4 pm show.

Pros: What fascinated me most were the chemistry and physics experiments which were demonstrated and which made my concepts clear. The visual medium was attractive.

Cons: It depended entirely on the quality of the programme and the instructor. Some western made programmes were more fun as the instructors were better. Some drab instructors used the television medium to teach as they would in a lecture and it made you switch off. You had to get back in time, and sometimes you weren't aware of what subject they would teach. The levels of programmes varied, sometimes the topic was far too difficult for my level of understanding. If there was a panel discussion on some historical aspect interspersed between two programmes I would switch off.


2. Radio Ceylon's English classes:
They were extremely well made and you fell in love with the characters there. Through casual conversations they taught a lot. I like the recent Angrezi mein kehte hai made by Siddhartha Basu for the very reason. It is practical oriented, teaches day to day things which people need and the interspersed funnies make learning a lot of fun, Bollywood ishtyle!


3. Correspondence courses:
A few years back I enrolled in a PG Diploma on Human Rights. They sent me stuff by post. Around 15 books. The matter was good but all of it was typed so badly and cramped into small font and poor quality paper. Maybe they wanted to reduce the bulk sent in the post, but it made reading tedious. I gave the first part exam and did well though I crash studied for barely 10 days. I wasn't able to schedule my reading properly to cope with you other duties. Had to take leave and study for the exam at a stretch. Then couldn't do the dissertation as I didn't find a suitable guide or reference books and kept postponing it as I didn't find time.

In stark comparison I find my niece's books sent by the National Open School and IGNOU very impressive. There are built in assignments and self assessments after each part. The assignments are sent back with sensible comments by instructors and there are one to one sessions with instructors at a central location. I also think they have sessions on All India Radio for various courses.


4. Online learning: FAIMER has of course been my most useful distance learning experience, motivating me to study what I wish to learn.

From my experience, I would say that distance learning works best when:
1. One is motivated to learn
2. There is a mentor or teacher or peer to look up to in case of difficulty
3. There are built in self assessment or assignments
4. Study material is carefully designed
5. Content is given in small assimilable parts instead of a big dose which scares the wits out of you
6. Constant feedback is received about how one is performing

Just wanted to add one more: Telepathology.

I have used it while I was an observer at Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. The consultant at Barshi to send pictures of slides via email and the consultant at TMH would report. While the system worked well on most occasions, I often worried about the fact that the pictures selected for transmission depended on what the pathologist at the other end thought was important. Sometimes an important area could be left out just because the fellow at the other end thought it was normal. And large pictures were never the same as the real slide and tough to download.
Now of course there is real time telepathology, where the observer can move the controls of the microscope in another country and see what he wants.

BTW does telepathology qualify as distance 'learning'?

Years ago I took Postal tutorials for various entrance exams...lots of material and like you rightly pointed .needs lot of motivation and planning. Perhaps even more than regular classes. The tests that are administered are also "do it yourself" and with access to books right under your nose, a lot depends on your honesty too. Also when you are busy with the routine classes, one set of lessons may remain unopened and soon the other one drops in....

The advantages are that you can have access to the best of literature especially if you do not have resources near home. Also with some sincerity on your part, you can exploit the flexibility they offer. Intermittent contact classes make up for lacunae if any.

 Dr. Tejinder Singh
Thanks for sharing, Anshu. You have added some very important dimensions of DE. Let me state them again-

1. An important characteristic of DE is equity in education. You do not have to be deprived of the expertise of say Prof. A, simply because you were not born in a metro. Similarly, if you have a good teacher, there is no reason why his teaching is not replicated and made available to all.

2. A distance learner is not a loner- he has a whole team (invisible to him, of course) of educationists, teachers, course planners, assessors, educational psychologists and media experts to help him learn.

3. Distance learning is not passive learning- all DE materials are learner active. Reading a self help article in a newspaper, for example, may not be DE unless you are required to perform some activity like maintaining a log, trying new ways of doing things, reflecting on what you read and so on.

4. Media may enhance but can never replace the quality of material- just as a good packing can not compensate for a poor quality soap; 
it is the content which matters and not the media. An off shoot of this is that low tech media like print can be as effective as high tech web/flash etc etc. In practice, it is the objective and nature of the course which decide the media.

5. Asynchronous learning happens when the teacher and learner are not doing their part at the same time. I may write a mail at 9 am, which you may read at 9 pm- but I am teaching and you are learning. (Incidentally, one of the definitions of DE proposed by Wedemeyer says that DE has teaching and learning taking place independently of each other). In a classroom, teaching and learning happens at the same time.

Dr Sanjay Bedi

I also undertook DE twice other than FAIMER. Once when I did EKS course ie management from Baroda. The organisers made it very clear before joining that the degree will not be very useful but the knowledge itself will be useful. With this mindset they gave exercises which had to be filled up and sent, a play way approach was advocated and exercised.

The second time I made a mess of myself. After seeing an impressive advertisement on ZEE TV about Computer Networking course in which classes were in the form of a TV telecast every morning and practicals at Aptech Computer centre I enrolled myself. However on reaching the practical class I found that I was the only on student who enrolled for the course, In 1995 it was the era of DOS (before WINDOWS) I did not know even DOS or basics of Computer and the instructor just laughed at me. However another class was going on ZEE Television on basics of Computers back to back which I also attended on the same days. Very slowly I picked up the concepts of both side by side by recording those lectures on VCR.
I agree motivation plays a big role. And putting yourself into a messy situation is sometimes big motivator. There is no other way way people from small cities can access best teachers and teaching material.


Dr. Tejinder Singh
 DE depends a lot on learner motivation. In a classroom, the onus somehow falls on the teacher to ensure 'learning'- in DE, it is the learner who guides the pace, place and content of his learning. Remember Eklavya- he became a better archer than Arjuna, even though he was learning at a distance, simply because he was motivated.

Thank you Sir for richly nourishing us through your vast knowledge and thanks to all friends for a very good participation.
My experience with distance education other than FAIMER is of Brilliant tutorials way back in 1984. It was very good experience with well planned assignments and tests at regular intervals but as Sir rightly told unless and until a person is highly motivated any mode may be futile for learning.
Hey! My mind is buzzing with DE. BTW I simply loved the new Idea ad with Abhishek Bachchan's style of DE!! Here's the youtube link! 
  Avinash Supe
It is fantastic advertisement , timing is perfect with your discussion on distance learning


That was a pretty nice idea Anshu. Housewives can also complete their tenth, twelfth, graduation through distance learning (my mom also did graduation through DE 3-4 decades ago).

We, both I & Suman P have undergone correspondence education through YOGODA SATSANGA SOCIETY OF INDIA for learning & practicing meditation. The courses were so well planned and organised, printed matter being sent at regular intervals with in between question before proceeding to next session. It was so effective that actually without going to the place you can learn most of the process of meditation. In-between there are regular things like spiritual conferences and gatherings where we could go and know our progress report.
The best thing about distance learning was that even though I was away I could be back in the mainstream with out  much difficulty and I could rejoin & learn all the things at my ease. But only thing required about distance learning is that one should be responsible and motivated enough for our purpose of learning that compulsion through attendance is not required.
Best thing about distance learning is the ease & flexibility with which we can pursue our study, as in the case of our FAIMER learning.