Technologies used in distant education

This is perhaps the most beautiful time in human history; it is really pregnant with all kinds of creative possibilities made possible by science and technology which now constitute the slave of man - if man is not enslaved by it. 

                                                                                                                                                    -Jonas Salk



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


Sitalakshmi Subramanian
Praveen has allotted the second week of discussion for technologies and methodologies used in Distant learning. Here is some useful information

 Technologies used in delivery of distant education:
The types of available technologies used in distance education are divided into two groups: synchronous and asynchronous.

Synchronous technology is used in distance education lessons in which learning is occurring in different places but at the same time.

Asynchronous technology is used in lessons in which learning is occurring in different places but also at different times.

  • Synchronous technologies
     broadcast video
     internet chat
     net meeting
     VoIP (such as Skype)
     Virtual spaces, or "metaverses"
     Asynchronous technologies
     voice mail/fax
     print material

Types of distance education courses

Correspondence conducted through regular mail

Internet conducted either synchronously or asynchronously.

Telecourse/Broadcast, in which content is delivered via radio or television

CD-ROM, in which the student interacts with computer content stored on a CD-ROM

PocketPC/Mobile Learning where the student accesses course content stored on a mobile device or through a wireless server

Distance Education has traversed four to five 'generations' of technology in its history. These are print, audio/video broadcasting, audio/video teleconferencing, computer aided instruction, e-learning/ online-learning, computer broadcasting/webcasting etc.

Yet the radio remains a very viable form, especially in the developing nations, because of its reach. In India the FM Channel is very popular and is being used by universities, to broadcast educational programs of variety on areas such as teacher education, rural development, programs in agriculture for farmers, science education, creative writing, mass communication, in addition to traditional courses in liberal arts, science and business administration.

The increasing popularity of mp3 players, PDAs and Smart Phone has provided an additional medium for the distribution of distance education content.

One of the newest technologies for delivery of distance education is the 3D virtual world of the online community .

There is also an increased use of WebEx as an online learning platform and classroom for a diverse set of education providers The platform has worked for educational institutions because of real time collaboration using an interactive whiteboard, chat, and VOIP technology that allows audio and video sharing.

In distance learning situations, while replacing the classroom with features, institutions have also looked for security features which are inherently strong in a Cisco powered collaboration environment. The downside is that Webex is not a free platform like WiZiQ or Moodle, and fees are paid per 'host' of a classroom or a meeting.

However, I donot understand the Virtual space  concept. Can some one clarify


We had a very good discussion of 1st week encompassing introduction & we cleared our basics to a large extent although we also covered our practical experiences which was a part of actually third week. Presently we can elaborate upon our 2nd week task regarding;
Methodologies / technologies, Type/components of distance learning along with methods used to do the same. Sita has given all of us a very good concept of technologies in distance education.

       Distance learning is approached in many different ways.
The component elements of these approaches are-

•       Materials-based learning. This dimension of a system of distance learning refers to all the learning resource materials made available by the programme provider to students studying at a distance. (being done by most of the correspondence courses offered)

•       Programme components delivered by travelling teachers. This dimension refers to staff of the providing institution travelling on a periodic basis to the location of the student to deliver components of the programme. ( in All India medical entrance exams)

•       Learning supported locally. This dimension involves the providing institution employing persons specifically to undertake certain defined functions for the local support of students following the programme.( Undertaken by many components of IGNOU)
•       Learning supported from the providing institution remotely from the student. This dimension refers to defined support and specified components of teaching provided remotely for individual distant students by a tutor from the providing institution.  (Very specific type of learning with individual attention)

Distance learning often relies on four main types of technology to transmit information:
•       Voice –Recorded Lectures, speeches, sounds
•       Video-Videoconferencing , Simulated videocassettes
•       Radio-Various educational programmes are being delivered on AIR through various channels
•       Telephone
•        Computer: With the help of recent technical advances, distance learning often takes place on the Internet or by using special learning management software.
•       Print –Traditionally  with correspondence courses offering various print mater through postal department and other methods of Courier

Sita has given us in details various tecnological inputs in each of these.

Find herewith a website telling some of the available online tools.


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Find attached an exhaustive review in mobile technologies and learning. The five sections are with elaborate descriptions.
"It provides a rich vision of the current and potential future developments in this area. It moves away from the dominant view of mobile learning as an isolated activity to explore mobile learning as a rich, collaborative and conversational experience, whether in classrooms, homes or the streets of a city. It asks how we might draw on existing theories of learning to help us evaluate the most relevant applications of mobile technologies in education."



Really wonderful article!
We are advancing towards a sci-fi education system and it is quite astonishing that Times of India quoted a figure that some 10000 mobiles are sold in India per hour!! I have got perplexed with this figure and if it is true then it really make sense of the the Abhishek's Ad of mobile based distance education even in India.


It was a very good article on mobile technologies and learning.
Really Kalyan, if that is the speed of mobile users in our country, m-learning can be our future learning technology and should be seriously dealt with by policy makers.

 Dr. Sanjay Bedi
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Another nice article although the scope of the article is wider.


Ciraj a.m
Mobile learning is defined as learning that happens across locations, or that takes advantage of learning opportunities offered by portable technologies. In other words, mobile learning decreases limitation of learning location with the mobility of general portable devices. It is distinct in its focus on learning across contexts and learning with mobile devices.
Technologies that support mobile learning

Personal Digital Assistant, in the classroom and outdoors
Tablet PC UMPC mobile phone, camera phone and SmartPhone
Learning Mobile Author, e.g. for authoring and publishing WAP, J2ME and SmartPhone
Personal audio player, e.g. for listening to audio recordings of lectures
Handheld audio and multimedia guides, in museums and galleries
Handheld game console, modern gaming consoles such as Sony PSP or Nintendo DS/Wii
Communication network to support mobile learning:
3GP For compression and delivery method of audiovisual content associated with Mobile Learning
Wi-Fi gives access to instructors and resources via internet
GPRS mobile data service, provides high speed connection and data transfer rate

M learning - Alternate Views

Ciraj a.m
In the last ten years theories have seen e and i added to a range of nouns, rendering them – seemingly immediately – more fashionable, edgy and modern. ‘m’ is becoming a similar bandwagon letter.

Those who hold power have a choice to move. Those who lack power are immobile. Through such a trope, globalization is configured through a distinct interpretative lens, where powerful companies, corporations and individuals are able to move through space and gain profit from exploiting an immobile labour force and then exporting the produced goods around the world.The mobile media platforms that enfold into popular culture, like motor cars andiPods, are often nodes where humans encounter technology in their daily lives and affirm individuality, particularly the right of the individual to consume without consequences or restrictions

The goal in thinking about web-based education is to ensure that a mechanism for quality-control and evaluation is present, rather than low level celebrations of ‘interactivity.’  Much time and attention is required to evaluate the purpose of education, and how we motivate our students out of their consumer-centric ideology.

M-learning must be transformed – from signifying mobility to motivation. Moving ideas between media platforms is not helpful if a student does not have the context, framework or incentive to study

Source: Mobile Learning: the iPodification of Universities. - By Tara Brabazon

One of the important things existant at many places is telepathology. Our institute has got a telepathology collaboration with TATA memorial Hospital, Bombay. We send our histopathology samples which are then diagnosed after initial diagnosis at our place along with discussions. We also had a CME on telepatholgy for the same.

Telephones as we all know are most common, unavoidable and v.very important for the purpose of distance learning.


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I am enclosing an interesting article on tools for DL.

Along with comparison of traditional learning with distance learning, let us discuss one of the technologies used in distance education that is Videoconferencing.

Its one of the methods which is very close to classroom teaching.
Videoconferencing (or video teleconferencing) is the synchronous two-way connection of two or more locations through audio and video equipment.

Find herewith a pedagogical primer for faculty who are relatively new to using videoconferencing to teach a course.

Can anyone share their practical experience of videoconference?
I had attended one such session on surgery. Surgery was on in Ahmedabad and we were watching at Jamnagar.Some of my friends had asked questions and the chief surgeon operating there had answered them while operating. It was interesting. 


S.M. Bhatti 
Ludhiana Ophthalmological Society organized four video conferences last year.  Eminent eye surgeons from New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai shared their experiences with local ophthalmologists from Ludhiana. Reliance web provided the logistic support. It was great learning experience for all of us.

Live surgical sessions are part of the most Ophthalmology conferences these days. Delegates can visualize the operation theatre and surgical procedure at the conference site (usually a Hotel many kilometers away from the operation theatre). It is a virtual tour of the operation theatre. Delegates have the opportunity to interact in real time with the operating surgeon. I have  attended such sessions many times. Such sessions help to disseminate knowledge to large number of participants in a short time.
We also use this technology sometimes, to show live surgeries to our medical students, who  watch the surgery outside the operation theatre.  But most of the time they witness these procedures in the Operation theatre.

 Sanjay Bedi           
  Videoconferencing is a small part there are many  more issues to be discussed as well.

Webzip is the software available on .This is the
master software. Basically it is an offline browser. We do not have
much of connectivity so what we do 1) open webzip 2) .Write the
address of the good website (pathology training in my case ) and start
downloading the entire website or the good directory. 3) Then go to
sleep. 4) By next morning the entire website has downloaded to your
computer in a directory called my Intranet with all links within the
site preserved. 5)Download the entire website on a CD and take it to
class use for training students. Your own offline learning ,share it
with friends .

It is so good that I have even purchased a Legal copy and routinely use it.

 Sanjay Bedi
In Oct 2005 I was the Chairman Organising Committee  of National Conference of Indian Association for Medical Informatics .The entire conference was web casted globally 9 to 5 . The Bandwidth was sponsored by BSNL using a Radio link . In widows media player a dedicated IP address provided by BSNL was typed which open the conference in Widows Media Player . We used a software developed by a Nagpur based developer
The entire conference was being captured on video and the same feed from Videocameras was fed to the link provided by BSNL. About 2500 viewers from around the globe joined especially from Heibronne Germany and Maryland University USA and there was two way live discussions with Amrita Institute of  Medical Sciences Kochi . In fact the executive committee meeting of the association was held by Videoconferencing.
Even now I use Skype and Yahoo Messenger for video chatting frequently. We can experiment by linking ourselves by video chat as well by fixing a common time when we can all come online at the same time . The video chat image if linked to a projector in a lecture theatre can serve as a low cost tool for videoconferencing in a classroom .although it need a good bandwidth link now usually available.
  Band width of two or three mobile phones can also be linked using a webram for field connectivity,
At our place near Karamsad, Gujarat Chief Minister had recently organized videoconferencing from collectors for which Dean and HOD of various departments from various faculty were connected. It was a very nice experience and more of such activities may come up at our place.
Sanjay, we will all be very pleased if such videoconferencing can be arranged between our faimer family eventhough on experimental basis.

Suman Singh
I also had the chance to experience video conferencing. We were in Hinduja hospital for a workshop on infectious disease in the year 2004. The topic for the session was quality control in microbiology and we had the chance to interact with experts located in USA. We did enjoy the session as it was almost face to face interaction. They also showed some recording showing organization of their laboratories.

Media is definately one of the tools helpful in distance learning, but definate validaation and accreditation should be there before any program is branded as distance learning program.
Otherwise people learn violence !! even from movies, what do we call it then!
Coming back to our topic Can anybody share their experience of Videoconferencing?


Stewart Mennin
If you are interested in the role of entertainment in education, and more specifically in health issues and social change, let me refer you to the follow terrific resources:  "Entertainment-Education: A communication strategy for social change" by Arvind Singhal and Everett M. Rogers.  Mahway, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum publishers, 1999.  Excellent work. 
Also, "Organizational aspects of health communication campaigns:  What works?  Thomas E. Backer and Everette M. Rogers (eds)  1993 Newbury Park: Sage Publications. 
And, Designing health communication campaigns:  what works?  Thomas E. Backer, Everett, M. Rogers, Predeep Sopory.  1992.  Newbury Partk; Sage Publications.
Other work by Rogers:  Intercultural Communication  Everett M. Rogers and Thomas M. Steinfatt 1999 Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press.

Probably, Roger's best know work and the second most cited book in social sciences in the world is Diffusion of Innovations, a book that had strong influence on my work in the 80s when we were involve in changing medical education in New Mexico.  A must read for anyone serious about change and their role as an agent for change.

In the context of the burgeoning distance learning community, automated software agents have the potential for improving the quality and consistency of learning and reducing the workload of instructors. Automated assessment of course papers means that students can receive immediate feedback.. Embedded discussion moderation reduces the potential burden on instructors to frequently monitor online courses, and ensures that groups in trouble will receive prompt help.