Is Open Learning still a refuge for Average Scorers: Defending the System


Dipti Desai, a class XII student of Ruparel College, scored 75% in her Board Exams. Her parents wanted her to pursue medicine, as she liked nursing people very much. However, she wanted to pursue the nursing profession.

Since both could not agree on Dipti’s future, and because she did not have the required marks in her 12th standard board exams in order to pursue a professional course, she was very disillusioned. That was when her friend Neha, suggested taking admission to the School of Open Learning in Delhi.

Neha, on her part, secured 96% in her 12th standard exams and unlike Dipti, she wanted to pursue medicine. She could have easily got admission in a medical college of her choice, but she opted for the School of Open Learning because along with her education, she wanted to do a stint with her father, who was a doctor.

She wanted practical experience while she was pursuing her education. Dipti was surprised when she heard Neha speak out her plans. She laughed at her and ridiculed her. However, Neha knew what she was doing.

The School of Open Learning in Delhi has graduated from being an option for those who do not get admission in University colleges of their choice, to the most attractive option for the futuristic generation. It is slowly and gradually revolutionizing distance education in the country.

This was corroborated by Dr. Pokhriyal, Executive Director, SOL. He said the response to his school was improving year on year and it had grown from being regarded as a last resort for those who do not do well in their Class 12th exams, to the preferred option for generation next.

What is Open Learning?

Open Learning is also called as Distance Education. Distance Education or distance learning comprises education of students who are not physically present at the school.

There are blended courses, which are conducted partly through distance education and partly through classroom training. A recent development is the MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses, which offer opportunities to access the courses through the World Wide Web or other contemporary network technologies.

A number of other terms have been coined to describe the different forms of education through the web namely distributed learning, online learning or e learning. Although, these are offered through the web, but they are modifications of distance learning.

The earliest attempts at providing distance education was made by Caleb Phillips, teacher of the new method of short hand, who sought students who were ready to learn from weekly mailed lessons. In contemporary times, Sir Isaac Pitman provided the first distance education course in the year 1940.

He taught his system of short hand by mailing lessons written on postcards. This scheme incorporated student feedback, which proved crucial to the system.

This system could be made possible because of the uniform postage rates across England in the year 1840. Later, it was the Phonographic Correspondence Society, which established the Sir Isaac Pitman colleges across the country to teach the course.

Today, we have open universities offering distance education. Open Universities are those universities, which are open to all types of students irrespective of formal qualifications. These offer distance education using specific media.

They offer a host of undergraduate and postgraduate courses apart from non-degree diplomas and certificates. They are the catalysts of furthering higher education in adults.

Open universities also offer certain services for disabled students and people studying at their home/workplace at their own speed. Here it will be pertinent to mention that not all distance-learning universities have the same policies. Therefore, it is best to verify the policies of an institute before taking admission in it.

Some Open Universities

The Open University system offers many advantages. An open learning university admits all kinds of people whether they are working professionals or students. They admit people irrespective of age and educational background.

They also prove useful for people who come from poor backgrounds. An open university enables a person to study the course of his choice, at his pace, in the setting he decides and thus improve his status in society.

The Indira Gandhi National Open University, formed in 1985, is a very good example of an open university. The Sikkim Manipal University also is another good example of an open university.

The IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University) is the 5th largest university across the globe and it can be considered to be the pioneer of distance education in India. With as many as nine hundred and sixty centers across the country, it can cater to the needs of students across the whole country.

The Sikkim Manipal University or the SMU also imparts numerous courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels through distance education mode. Experienced and qualified professionals create the course content at both the above open universities.

There are other open universities too namely the Annamalai University, Nalanda Open University, Osmania University, etc. which offer courses in different subjects.


Thus, looking at examples like Dipti Desai and Neha Sharma, we can say that open universities are here to stay in India. This new channel of imparting knowledge to underprivileged children and working professionals has created a niche for itself in society so much so that a number of youngsters are opting for taking education through them.

They pursue a course through an open university and at the same time, they work in that field. Thus, they enjoy the best of both the theoretical and the practical world.

By the time, they complete their course, they gain valuable experience in the field of their choice and are then ready to launch out full-fledged into the field.

Truly speaking, open universities have revolutionized the way knowledge is imparted to students today. With the advancement in technology, we will soon have people studying on their laptops or tablets using the internet channel.

Already a number of major open universities conduct online classes for their students. Thus, OPEN UNIVERSITIES ARE NO LONGER  A REFUGE FOR AVERAGE SCORERS.

Harish Desai

Image from HERE.

5 thoughts to “Is Open Learning still a refuge for Average Scorers: Defending the System”

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