Away from the classroom

Distance education

They allow flexibility, are not very expensive and are easily available, thanks to the explosion of distance education colleges in recent years. In addition to this, working students find it reasonably easy to balance a correspondence course with a full-time job.

However, there is a flip side to such programmes as well; students tend to suffer from a lack of personalised attention, and receive very little in terms of teacher support.

Perhaps for this reason, distance education is given rather a raw deal as compared to continuous college courses. Metrolife speaks to a few teachers and career counsellors to find out whether this holds true.

The scope of distance education has widened exponentially in recent years. Now, even para-medical degrees are being offered via correspondence courses. Ameen Mudassar, a career counsellor, believes that in certain cases, distance education can prove to be a boon to students.

However, while he agrees that some studies can be picked up efficiently through
a correspondence course, he feels that others should steer clear of them entirely.

 “Students who are studying courses related to IT, arts or commerce through distance education have definitely experienced many positive results. But science-based courses – especially medical and psychology – cannot be learnt through distance education. There will always be a huge question mark hanging over these students and these industries will not accept them easily,” he claims.

The success of a correspondence course, says Ameen, is definitely situation-based.

 “There are two kinds of students who take up correspondence courses: those who are simply picking it up as an easy route, and those who pursue it not as a primary but as an additional course. The former will not benefit from them whatsoever. But for those who are working side-by-side or who have already completed a base course, it can be very useful,” he explains.

Tabassum Begum, a Bangalore-based professional who is pursuing a degree through a correspondence course, is one of the latter.

She completed her diploma in computer science and then began working in a data-related firm and completing her BCA from Madurai University side-by-side.

“This system works for me as I can study for my degree and continue with my job at the same time,” she says.

Tabassum studies for about an hour everyday and attends coaching classes every
Sunday, which include both theory and practical sessions. While she admits that there definitely is a prejudice against distance education in her field of work, she thinks that this view is unreasonable.

“Many think continuous college courses are better but I don’t agree. So many students pursue distance education these days. If it holds no value, then why would they?” she demands. However, not everyone agrees with this view.

Ramachandran Rao, a professor of electronics and communication at Global
Academy of Technology, says, “Up to a basic degree level, any institution would prefer to hire someone who has completed a full-time college course. After this, correspondence course is generally considered up to par, although some non-government organisations would probably still give less preference to a degree obtained through distance education.”

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