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Distance Education and Open Learning in a Developing Country like Bangladesh: Philosophy and Reality. Sadie Froze Sultana Lecturer, Bangladesh open University Anamosa Sad Kamala Assistant Professor, Bangladesh Open University Abstract Distance education is thought to be an effective way of educating people of all sections in society. The delivery system in distance education is different than that in the conventional on-campus teaching.

However, distance education is considered as close substitute for the conventional on-campus teaching keeping in mind the premises that different types of media (print, audio, video, telephone, computerized immunization system, etc. ) are synchronized in the delivery process in distance education and open learning system. Of course, in this age of information super high-way, nobody can challenge the possibility that effective and quality education can be offered through different types of modern media – without any real class room. Real class room can be substituted by virtual class room environment.

Now a question frequently strikes our mind: “Is the realities in the developing countries like Bangladesh, where access to modern technologies is very limited, meet the philosophy of distance education? ” This paper aims at examining whether there is any gap between the philosophy of the distance education and the reality in the developing countries like Bangladesh and identify the factors lies behind this gap. Then suggests some measures to be taken to minimize the gap. In the paper, we have analyses the data derived from a survey on the Secondary School Certificate programmer of Bangladesh Open University.

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Keywords: Philosophy of distance education, Realities, Developing country, media use, access to modern technology. 1. Introduction For faster growth of the economy of a country human capital should be available long with physical capital. That is why, improving and expanding education are essential ingredients of any national development policy. However, developing countries fails to offer education to all sections of people in society through conventional on-campus system of education due to lack of infrastructural facilities and also some constraints embodied in it.

Distance and open learning (ODL) system can play an important role to make-up this gap. In addition to allowing more students from different background, environments and geographical settings without equaling ten uses AT scarce on-site space, Olsten Ana open learning system also offers the educational institutions more revenue. That meaner, ODL system is a cost-effective way of mass education. On the other hand, especially in the developing countries, students who cannot go to school due to insolvent economic condition of the parent’s can have education by earning by themselves.

So, ODL systems have proven themselves a way for people to gain education, which would otherwise not possible (Dickers, 2000). However, when comparing with conventional forms o f education the revision of distance education requires considerably greater planning, larger upfront infrastructure costs and more complex student and administrative support systems (Lockwood, 1995; Rumble, 1986). Well-designed support systems facilitate the delivery of distance education courses of comparable quality and attrition rates to those for on-campus courses (NÉE, 1999).

Although ODL system is the most efficient and appropriate way of education in the developing countries, the great concern yet attracts the attention of the distance educators is the quality of the ODL programmer. Still the institutions are struggling tit quality issues of their programmer. Sometimes, ODL institutions is pinched as low-grade graduate-producing factories, quality graduates are not coming of this system, though as a system ODL system must not be accused in this way.

The main criticism may come with the implementation of the ODL system. In reality, a number of factors are concerned for improper implementation of distance education system in the developing countries. This paper aims at seeing briefly the distance and open education system in Bangladesh. The paper considers the following aspects of distance and open education in Bangladesh: Type of the programmer offered through distance mode Media use 2 Production and delivery Quality assurance measures Management Research, evaluation and improvement efforts 2.

Materials and methods The paper starts with browsing the existing theories of distance education (DE) and then discusses the distance and open learning scenario of Bangladesh and identify the deficiencies. Then tries to explain the reasons behind these deviations and recommends possible remedies. The paper uses primary and secondary data on the educational programmer in Bangladesh, especially of Bangladesh Open University (BOO). 3. Distance education and Open Learning: Concepts Distance education and open learning is not a very old system of education as compared with conventional on-campus education system.

It came in practice since 19th century. However, a number of improvements have been come forth with DE system in last 2 centuries and still improvement efforts are going on with this system. The most significant and robust improvements have come in last few decades with the development of information and communication technologies. 3. 1. Definition In the awake of DE, due to less attention to this system not many theories have been plopped regarding distance education, which interfered with the visibility of its identity. However, a set of reliable distance learning theories have only began to recently emerge.

Different theories explain DE in different ways. Keenan (1986) proposes an initial classification for some of the DE theories as follows: 3 Classes of Theories Theories of independence and autonomy Main theme DE is the independence of the students Theories of industrialization of teaching Theories of interaction and communication DE is the industrialized form of teaching and learning Distance teaching supports tuned motivation, promote learning pleasure, creates feelings of rapport between learner and the distance education institution.

Key words Learner’s autonomy, distance between teacher and learner Mechanization, assembly line, mass production, and standardization Motivation, learning pleasure, rapport between learner and the distance education institution. Keenan (1986) also provided the elements that compose emerging definitions of distance education.

These includes: Separation of learner and teacher geographically and in time Input of educational organization in the planning and development of learning trials and student support infrastructure Technical media Joins learner, teacher and content Two-way communication so learner may engage in dialogue with the teacher and / or other learners Individual learning due to an absence of the learning group with occasional face-to- face meetings In short, DE is the system of education where students learn by themselves in the absence of classrooms.

Teachers are separated from the students – students do not get any personal touch of the teacher. A wide variety of media are used to serve numerous educational programmer to students. According to Simonton et al (2000), ” he term distance education have been applied to a tremendous variety of programmer serving numerous audiences via a wide variety of media”. American Council on Education (ACE) defines distance education as ‘a system and a process of connecting learners 4 with distributed learning resources’ (Chute, P. 20). Students in DE system communicate the teachers and other fellow students through several media. Students/learners Student/learner MEDIA Teachers Distant learners always enjoy flexibility in terms of choosing the place and time of study. However, the degree of flexibility the students able to enjoy depends on the availability of the media and learner’s access to them. Based on the availability of technology, flexibility in DE system varies worldwide (please see 4-Square Map of Groupware Options).

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