Open Source for Higher Conventional and Open Education in India

Open Source for Higher Conventional and Open Education in India

Ramesh C. Sharma (Indira Gandhi National Open University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7230-7.ch060
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Distance Education in India has come a long way since the launch of correspondence courses in 1962 at the Delhi University. There have been many changes over the period of time, and thus, a transition was observed from print based correspondence courses to media supported distance education. With the advent of technology, expansion of telephone network, and lowering of tariff, there has been expansion of e-learning services, web based education, and mobile learning. Currently there are around 600 conventional (face-to-face) universities in India serving around 1.2 billion students. Starting with one Open University in 1982, now we have 15 open universities. There are single mode and dual mode distance education institutions. These provide instructions from print based to technology enabled means. All these developments transformed the teaching learning. Many of the institutions followed Open Educational Resources and Open Source movement. Reasons are varied for adopting open source. With the purpose to reduce the costs on software development, freedom to improve the software and freedom to redistribute to help neighbours has made individuals, institutions, and governments support open source. In this chapter, the author examines some of the initiatives of Open Source in the field of higher, open and distance education in India.
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2. Transition To And Growth Of Higher And Open Education

After independence, the government of India prepared Five Year Plans for the development of the nation and thus planners made a reference to the alternative systems of education outside the formal system in the First Five Year Plan (1951-56) with the purpose to address the growing demand for higher education. Instructions through radio talks and printed course material were promoted, although the pace was slow till 1961. It was mostly during the Third Five Year Plan (1961-67) distance education was given a serious thought due to ever increasing pressure to provide more educational opportunities. The Third Five Year Plan (1961-67) proposed, “…in addition to the provision in the plan for expansion for facilities for higher education, proposal for evening colleges, correspondence courses and award for external degrees are at present under consideration” (GOI, 1961:589). To achieve this objective, a committee was set up by the Central Advisory Board of Education, highest education policy making body in India, (CABE) to suggest strategies for introducing correspondence education. After deliberations, the CABE Committee recommended:

A correspondence course should be a step designed to expand and equalize educational opportunity, as it aimed at providing additional opportunities for several thousand students who wished to continue their education and the persons who had been denied these facilities and were in full-time employment or were for other reasons prevented from availing themselves of the facilities at college (GOI, 1963: 3-4).

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