Distance education has succeeded in moving modern education outside the realm of the traditional classroom-based model. Modern technology devices have enabled a teaching mode with the use of personal computers and the Internet. This has also redefined the role of the modern teacher and their interaction with the students.
Despite the geographical distance between the student and the teacher, communication devices are enabling their interaction virtually from anywhere. Distance education is also enabling students to be more self-directed, motivated, and to have a more active role in their learning process. Due to these factors, the role of the teacher in the distance education model has been transformed from being simply an instructor to that of the curriculum designer, moderator, and student coach.
Role of the Teacher
In the distance learning mode, teachers not only have the responsibility of delivering quality education but must also be aware of the student needs. To enable this, they would need to:
- Understand the learning profile and needs of their students without any face-to-face contact.
- Adapt to modern teaching styles suited for distance learning.
- Develop a functional understanding of delivery technologies.
This article evaluates how teachers can set up and deliver quality education to their students.
How is Distance education delivered?
Teachers can deliver distance education through interactive (two-way) or non-interactive (one-way) modes to their students. Listed below are the available technological and non-technological modes to deliver distance education, including:
This can comprise of audio-based tools that can be delivered using interactive technologies such as audio conferencing and telephone. Non-interactive modes of audio tools include tapes and radio.
Video-based delivery tools include one-way recorded videos and slides. Alternatively, teachers can deliver video content through webinars and video conferences that can offer real-time interactive sessions.
- Computer applications
Teachers can use a variety of computer applications as instructional tools, which can be categorized as:
- Computer-assisted instruction (CAI), which uses the computer itself as a teaching assistant in delivering student lessons.
- Computer-managed instruction (CMI), which uses the computer as a medium to organize student instruction and to track student progress.
- Computer-mediated education (CME), which uses computer-based applications such as Email and Internet learning tools to deliver education.
This is the only non-technological mode, which was the foundational base in the evolution of distance education. Print-based formats include textbooks, workbooks, and case studies.
To ensure quality learning, teachers must focus more on the instructional outcome, rather than the delivery mode. This can be influenced by the individual needs of the learners along with the requirements of the learning content. A systematic mix of the delivery modes can be effective in meeting the needs of the student. For example, while Print can be used to provide the basic instructional content, interactive audio or video conferencing can be used for real-time interaction between the teacher and student.
With the emergence of more distance education universities in India such as Sikkim Manipal University, teachers and educators have a vital role to play to ensure the fulfillment of student learning. Not only must they be skilled in delivering course content, teachers must also facilitate learning to a diverse group of students.