The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the world in more than one way. We all have borne the brunt of it. The pandemic has particularly transmuted the education system in India. Online & Distance Learning (ODL) came to the rescue at a time when life had come to a halt. Since then it has considerably replaced the regular mode of learning and continues to do so even today. To encourage more enrollments in the ODL mode of learning, the UGC recently released a notification wherein it has placed Online Learning, Open and Distance Learning (ODL), and Regular Learning on the same pedestal.
The New UGC Regulation
The said notification in question was released by the UGC on September 2, 2022. It says that all the undergraduate, postgraduate, and postgraduate diploma programs which are being offered Online Learning and Open and Distance Learning (ODL), will now enjoy the same status as the courses being run in the regular mode. This move was made to accelerate the development of Online Learning and Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in the realm of Indian education.
Regular Learning vs. Open and Distance Learning (ODL) vs. Online Learning
To develop a better understanding about the three modes of education that are being offered in the country, let us first look at their features individually. If we talk about the regular mode of learning, the teaching-learning process takes place in a conventional classroom set-up. However, the same is not the case when it comes to Online Learning as well as Open and Distance learning (ODL). In case of ODL mode, the teachers and the students meet only occasionally at the respective learning centres. This absence of a regular teacher-student interaction is compensated by providing self-learning material to students which is often sent through mail or post. Therefore, the students are solely responsible for their learning. Examinations for Open and Distance Learning (ODL) courses are conducted at the various regional centres set-up by the university.
Moving on to Online learning, it has revolutionised the entire educational domain. It is very different from both regular mode of learning as well as Open and Distance Learning (ODL). Here, teachers and students interact using a technologically advanced infrastructure. The lessons are delivered online using various Learning Management Software. Lectures are delivered either Live or in the form of recorded classes. The information is supplemented by online accessible resources. Examination for online learning is conducted from anywhere through internet-enabled equipment.
The table given below presents the comparison between Regular Learning, Online Learning, and Open and Distance Learning (ODL):
|Criteria||Regular Learning||Online Learning||Open and Distance Learning (ODL)|
|Student-Teacher Interaction||In-person interaction||Frequent interaction via virtual platforms||Rare Student-Teacher Interaction|
|Class Schedule||Fixed Class Timings||Flexible Class Timings||Rarely Scheduled|
|Examination Schedule and Assignment Submissions||Rigid Schedule||Flexible Schedule||Rigid Schedule|
|Pedagogy||Interactive, Blended (Traditional+Modern) Pedagogy||Interactive, Blended (Traditional+Modern) Pedagogy||Less interactive|
|Networking||Wide, Professional Networking||Wide, Professional Networking||Low Opportunity of Networking|
Attributes of the UGC Notification
The current UGC decision to equate the modes of Online Learning and Open and Distance Learning (ODL) with the regular learning mode will boost admission in the former modes of education. It will particularly benefit the working professionals, who want to upskill but are loaded with a heavy schedule. The flexibility inherent in the Online learning mode and the Open Distance Learning (ODL) mode facilitates them to efficiently manage both.
As all the mediums are now put at an equal footing, the UGC enables a student to switch to another mode, if and only if the courses and the higher educational institutions follow the set guidelines. This provides freedom to the students and the working professionals to structure their career paths.
If a student has already taken admission to a course through the said mediums in the higher educational institutions, that were recognised during the time of admission, but their recognition was later repealed, the current UGC notification will apply to such admission if the UGC norms are properly complied with
Things to Consider about UGC Rules and Regulations 2022
The UGC circulated a cautionary notice three weeks back regarding the UGC Rules and Regulations 2022. The notice educates the students, who wish to enrol themselves in Online learning and Open and Distance Learning (ODL) courses.
As mentioned earlier, the UGC has recognised only those higher education institutions for the medium of Online learning and Open and Distance Learning (ODL), that meet its conditions. In its previous notice, the UGC asked students to look out for such information, when choosing a higher educational institution.
Also, to impart holistic education, inclusive of the non-theoretical curriculum (if any), the UGC forbids some courses to be imparted through the Online Learning mode and Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode. These courses, like Engineering, Physiotherapy, Medical, Architecture, Hotel Management, etc, have indispensable practical courses, to which the Online Learning and Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mediums can’t do justice. Also, M. Phil. and Ph. D. Programmes are forbidden for said modes. Therefore, the students, who wish to take admissions in these courses, can’t do so through the said modes of learning.
The following are the listed Programmes that are forbidden for Online learning and Open and Distance Learning (ODL):
In the post-pandemic era, where we are still recovering from the repercussions of the COVID, the current UGC decision brings respite to the plights of the students, for whom education had become a huge concern. It’s a huge step forward in the direction of acclimatisation to the changing needs of the Indian educational arena.