Well the word open has various definitions and even implications. But in this context am going to focus on the open meaning which implies a learning system which available to anybody, irrespective of qualification,ethnic group or evenage. Also on this context am going to look on Distance has having a nature of space and time dimension. The physical distance implies that a person learns away from the educational association, in my case Wawasan Open University (WOU). In-terms of time learning and teaching undertakings are separated. In my case teaching undertakings refer to course materials preparation. They are organized and ready prior to studies. Learning undertakings refer to the student studying the course materials at workplace, home or elsewhere and completing the assignments issued. Well, this takes place at diverse time from the preparation of the course materials. In both spatial and geographical sense then, Open Distance Learning is distanced. In distance learning there is separation among the teacher and learning association, on one hand and the learner on the hand. When the openness and distance are combined, then Open Distance Learning (ODL) is a learning system whereby learning is accessible to everybody, and where the learning and teaching undertakings are separated in space and time (Rowntree, 1992).
Through Open Distance Learning, the Wawasan Open University gives an opportunity to all those people wishing to further their education but they cannot because they are tied down by job commitments. Students get to learn at the places and times different their academic institution. This learning approach gives a person flexibility and choice over where, what, when, what speed and how to learn. A student as the freedom to make his or her timetable that is appropriate to their own lifestyle or routine. In terms of technology application, the learner decides the technology the suits their learning circumstances and style at best because distance learning usually exploits education technology facilities.
Characteristics of Open Distance Learning
Process of learning is just in time and on demand. Digital learning is imparting and delivering knowledge where and when the students requires it, and as frequent as we required it(Jung, and Insung. 2013). . This learning concept of anywhere anytime leads to greater learner satisfaction and retention, additionally to significant cost benefits to employer. For example, I can access WOU anytime through the provided website from the Open University which gives me easy access and information such as Tutorial link with files and documents uploads that are relevant and significant to my course. From this approach I save a lot of time and travelling costs as I can study anywhere and at any time I feel like studying.
The other characteristic of Open Distance Learning is that of face-to-face meeting for the tutorials. The learners also have the opportunity to interact with each other in the practice sessions, library study and laboratory(Jung, and Insung. 2013). . For example, by use of students portal in Wawasan Open University website, process of studying is by posts such as discussions, assignments, course materials and lesson to the web. This is beneficial to me as I can download the material to view or read based on my schedule. Besides, I can interact with my colleagues to group up and study of conduct a discussion together using the WOU library.
Another characteristic is that of self-managed learning. Learners have to be well organized and independent so as to study by themselves. For example, WOU provides us with course materials such as CD form, printed material or textbook for each of us. This helps me to study or learn at my own free time.
Open Distance Learning course access is unlimited, learners can have unlimited access to the course by internet tutorials which is flexible 24 hours a week throughout the year (Jung, and Insung. 2013). For example, I always have support to gather more material to the course through internet access that is provided by the Wawasan Open University.
Last but not least Open Learning is a two-way communication. This means that the tutor and the learner communicate through passive receipt by use of asynchronous or synchronous which are wed based instruction broadcast signals. For example, two-way audio conferences can be provided to the learner or a two way video communicate and see each other. This is usually beneficial to me as I am able to contribute and participate with my colleagues in class and real-time.
Some distance learning approaches applies synchronous method of instructions, this means at the same time. In the case the teacher and the learner should be simultaneously preset at the same time. Other distance learning approaches applies the asynchronous method of instructions, this means that simultaneous contribution of the learner and the tutor is not required.
Open Distance Learning does not need the presence of a tutor, teacher or an instructor. The learning place is not essentially at the same period in teaching. In the approach communication methods is through innovations of technologies such as audio, printed materials, video, broadcasting, online communication and self-instructional communication electronic. In ODL the learners have the freedom of studying at the comfort of their homes.
Jung, Insung, and Insung Jung. 2013. Quality assurance in distance education and e-learning challenges and solutions from Asia. New Delhi: SAGE Publications. http://www.deslibris.ca/ID/445103.
Rowntree, Derek. 1992. Exploring open and distance learning. London: Kogan Page.
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