Towards providing better Distance Education: A roadmap for Universitites in Pakistan (Review Completed - Accepted)
Today, technology has become an essential part of our daily lives and its increasing integration in Higher Education (HE) makes it an essential component of effective teaching and learning process. Where HE is expected to provide strong basis for a knowledge-based economy, access to Higher Education turns out to be the defining block in the whole process. With world witnessing drastic rise in number of students pursuing HE over the last few decades, HE providers seek alternate methods of providing HE to overcome the time and space barriers to delivering HE. What was accomplished via the classroom or lecture hall is now done in ubiquitous environment without any restrictions of time, place, or media through a phenomenon usually referred to as Distance Education (DE). Use of technology in teaching has not only enhanced the learning experience for DE students, it also has addressed time and space obstacles in learning environments throughout the world. While a variety of technologies are available to achieve the goal of providing convenient learning, choosing the right method that go well with cultural, demographic and economical situation is vital to accomplish the sought objectives.
This paper discusses common DE technologies with pros and cons of each mode, presents an overview of various Distance Education methodologies practiced locally and internationally in Higher Education, and identifies various barriers to improving Distance Education in the country. The paper also discusses various challenges to creating a learning community in a DE setting and finally, an improved DE model is proposed for Universities of Pakistan who are opting to start or have already taken initiatives in providing DE.