Distance Education:An outlook towards future programs [Archives:2003/661/Education]

August 21 2003

By Dr. Bashar G. Askar
[email protected]

In recent years distance learning has been taken as a means of providing higher education that involves the transfer to the student's location of the materials, the major basis of study, rather than the student moving to the location of the resource provider. Distance learning has gained primacy in many countries all over the world. The material-based learning may include printed, audio or audio-visual material, experimental equipment and material on the World Wide Web and other electronic or computer-based resource. Material or resources accessible may be drawn from local providers- such as local libraries, local book suppliers or information from the web. The modes of dispatch of the materials to form the basis of study include personal delivery to students by their professors, dispatch to the student through the post couriers, distribution though the e-mail communication and personal collection by the student from a distribution point.
This program allows the student to communicate with the university as often as necessary, by fax, phone, mail, e-mail, or person. The student can receive an immediate response to his requests for assistance or counselling and guidance. There is a team of professors and experts who could provide information in any subject area and even can travel abroad to present an in-depth seminar to groups if necessary. The team of professors can be agreed upon locally to guide and counsel students individually on their degree programs, and help them begin the process of self-study under the guidance of the university's institutional staff.
The purpose of distance learning programs is to allow qualified men and women the opportunity to achieve a higher degree from a recognized and accredited university. It is not designed for the youth on the bachelor program. Yes, it is for the qualified youths to complete their programs if necessary.
Distance learning can not be a substitute for the traditional university, but it is a more convenient way to study at home in a tutorial setting. This type of learning widely used nowadays in America, Europe, China, India or Asian countries does not mean that it attracts only dull, stupid, or low-achieving students to complete their study without exerting efforts or working hard on the program. If things were so, then the whole program would not sustain itself. It is particularly useful only for those who had not got appropriate opportunity to complete their education with the traditional universities. A vast array of subjects including the humanities, literature, linguistics, international law, political sciences, anthropology, business administration, computer sciences, education, hotel management, information technology, sociology, theology and tourism are could be studied through a distance program easily. The other fields and domains require special concern, labs, libraries, specialists, experts and other expertise and facilities. Therefore, life experience is very significant for those seeking such type or education to get their Master's or doctorate Degrees.
In the Arab world this program is relatively new and requires a lot of study, consideration and concern to replace a portion of the traditional university programs. It would of course take time to understand the validity and usability of distance education programs in the Arab world. However, the community is required to understand such a program and study it thoroughly so that the outcome might be beneficial and helpful to those who have not yet got the opportunity to get their Master or Ph.D. Degrees from a traditional university.