A lot of successful people proudly proclaim that their present success goes back to their first on-the-job training, considering their mentors as their ultimate Gurus. This trend of denouncing institutionalized education and preferring career-oriented learning is the trend among today’s youth.


Around 35 percent of Indian learners consider higher education for career prospects, and 36 percent of professionals who had enhanced their skills via online courses reported career enhancements like pay hike, promotion or entrepreneurial opportunities. Akin to the global trend even in India the demand for online courses as well as distance learning is on rise and people are fast adapting to these different approaches of learning. (Source: http://www.firstpost.com/business/90-percent-indians-report-benefit-in-careers-from-online-courses-reveals-survey-2447336.html)


Let’s delve a little deeper into how we can make the best use of current and emerging trends in education to enrich our future generation. Location- and time-dependent learning is no more an option for everybody. The pioneers in this fundamental change are Distance, Open, Online, and Flexible Learning. Although there is a conceptual overlap among all these, they are actually very different from each other. Let’s look into each of them for better insights.


Distance Learning is a method, and not a philosophy. There’s no time or geographical restraint for students in distance learning programs, which offers courses 24*7 and from a location of their choice; though the availability of technology is critical. However, these programs are not always completely open since there are certain pre-requisites offered by individual institutions. TechNavio analysts forecast the Indian Distance Learning market to grow at a CAGR of 10.15 percent by ODL enrolments over the period 2014-2019. (Source: Technavio.com)


Open Learning, yet another dominant trend in modern education, is primarily a policy, which aims at removing barriers from learning, shunning prior qualifications and providing suitable learning methods for students fighting lack of privileges. The goal is “education for all.” The success is well apparent from the words of H C Pokhriyal, Executive Director of Delhi University’s School of Open Learning, way back in 2007, “Last year we accommodated around 70,000 students in the first year undergraduate courses. This year we are expecting the number of enrolments to increase to 80,000.” It is unnecessary to mention that this has increased manifold in the successive years. (Source – Times of India, June 2007 issue)


As the name suggests, Flexible Learning provides distance education in a more flexible manner, including but not limited to learning in workplace, night or early morning on-campus classes, or weekend classes.


Online/Virtual/E-Learning is the newest trend, and it’s fairly different from Distance Learning. This can be either completely distance or apply a blended method, where face-to-face teaching is combined with internet-based learning. Simply put, this form uses a computer to provide a course either in an institution or as on-the-job training. India tops the growth rate for E-Learning at 55%, followed by China and Malaysia. (Source: eLearning Industry website)


Though technology and internet are not the only important drivers in transformation of education, they definitely play the most important role in modern learning forms such as mobile phone-based learning, use of virtual reality devices, and learning through gamification and social media. Whatever be the shape of the development, it is surely to benefit the cause of the learners.



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