Learning Ecosystem for Open and Distance Learning

Learning Ecosystem for Open and Distance Learning

G. Anbalagan (Indira Gandhi National Open University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7853-6.ch007
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Open and distance learning (ODL) has attained paradigm shift in the recent years as the system serves to the educational aspirations of millions of learners. The digital innovations and growing trends of skill enhancement around the globe attracts the learners into ODL system to increase their knowledge through lifelong learning opportunities extended by such institutions. On the other hand, the conventional mode of higher educational institutions are keen in developing massive open online courses (MOOC) for the knowledge empowerment of the society in various disciplines of study which is a raising trend of educational opportunities to cater the needs of aspiring peoples. In the competitive edge of educational domain with more private educational institutions, the demand for open and distance learning is still continuing rapidly in the most populated countries like China, India, and Pakistan. Hence, the competitive ecosystem development with the digital tools for learning is absolute necessary.
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The impact of digital sharing practices makes knowledge dissemination faster in the society as most people prefer to make use of social media for increased access to information. The increase in the usage of information and communication technologies (ICT) in open and distance learning system extend avenues of support services to reach the doorstep of the learners and moreover many learners expect the on time supporting services from such institutions of higher learning due to the fact that management of work pressure, family situations, less time to study individually, isolation from peer group of learners and lack of access to internet in rural/remote areas. The learning ecosystem in the digital era has certainly changed the structure of the ODL system from traditional printed study materials to online educational resources, counselling and tutoring into online interaction, online student support services through e-mails, Whatsapp, SMS etc. Reaching the unreached through technological intervention is made possible with the creative pedagogies, online deal with teachers, radio based interactive counselling and internet based social domains like Face book, LinkedIn and twitter etc. The emergence of smart mobile based applications and proliferation of mobile internet users in the 21st century has altered the mind-set of educational practitioners and administrators around the world to innovate new teaching methods to suit to the needs of the population as there is a growing demand for such innovative teaching and learning methods in the future. The Open University of Malaysia has completely made its all activities digital to enhance the opportunities and to curtail the expenditure on traditional paper based activities. Many people prefer to learn while earn policy to manage their expenses on the educational fees. Several educational institutions extend the educational activities for the workplace based learning to cover massive group of learners into distance education. On the other hand the infrastructure developments, salaries to teachers, increasing revenue from fees of students are major challenge to the conventional higher educational institutions due to various facts. Globalisation, increasing modernisation and rapid increase in population explores opportunities for the ODL institutions to review its traditional practice into ICT mediated approach to keep the learners as well in the futuristic sustainable developments.

Learning at distance is still mega challenge even though there are several innovations and technological approaches due to the adult learners are incapable to use the technological avenues including internet resources. The learning ecosystem be enriched with potential opportunities; scalable reach and use of techno-pedagogy, learning facilities at rural areas with low cast internet technologies and access are the prime need in the developing countries. Orienting the adult learners towards the use of technology in the ODL needs a lot of effort from the host institution and the teaching facilitator or academic counsellors/tutors need to help them in many ways for effective use. Further revision of syllabus in the Open and Distance Learning system poses mega challenge as the cost involvement in printing large quantum of self-learning materials, storage and postal expenses. The technological advancement permeate the host institutions to prepare open educational resources with fair copy right policies for the users which certainly address the real need of the learners to study at distance. Many poor learners lack with access devices to do internet based studies and use of OERs for their study, hence in such situations, the host institutions need to take proactive role for establishment of digital study centres in the proximity of learners place with all the facilities including internet for encouraging the poor learners.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Open Educational Resources: Freely accessible, openly licensed text, media, and other digital assets that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing as well as for research purposes.

Learning Indicators: Indicators of progression to provide support for teachers to interpret the learning objectives for each knowledge and skills.

Digital Innovations: Innovation achieved through leverage of digital tools.

Abiotic Factors: Abiotic components such as non-living chemical and physical parts of the environment that affect living organisms and the functioning of ecosystems.

Ecosystem: A biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment.

Learning Management System: Software application for the administration, documentation, mapping, tracking, reporting, and delivery of educational or training programs.

Sustainable Development: Achieving human development goals without depleting natural resources.

Biotic Factors: The living things in an ecosystem (i.e., human, plants, animals, bacteria, fungi, etc.).

Techno-Pedagogy: Technology mediated teaching and learning.

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