Open Universities and why do they exist

Open Universities design, develop and offer Academic programmes to such individuals who may not be able to a brick & mortar University. Like most individuals they would be working professionals and they can register for an academic programme that happens in the distance learning mode.

Today’s open Universities have the flexibility in designing curriculums, and the accompanying learning materials and online quizzes and tests. The engagement model between a student, and the Instructors at the Open University.

With the use Internet, IT Infrastructure and computing devices that include smart phone, the Education process can be completed. This program should allow break-out sessions for students, project based learning, assessments, and most importantly the feedback loop of the learners to the Instructor.

Th old model Open Universities believed in and effectively implemented a distance learning program of shipping boos to the relevant student (mostly self-study material. Study centers would act a geographically nearer for the teacher intervention programs which were called ‘Contact”Sessions”. and also assessments. In the pre-internet era, and in the pre- Digital content era, this model made sense. At that time to multiple (Traditional Universities) Universities were restrained to NOT offer distance learning programs.

However, today most universities across the world additionally offer distance learning programs, which used internet, and digital interactive content and refreshing pedagogical models make distance learning more effective. They also lead to authentic certification/badging.pen Universities, opened up at that time the technology was not available or very poor to implement e-learning.

In India we seem to believe that the distance learning programs should be the privilege of only open universities and that the traditional Universities are not allowed to design and develop distance education programs.

Moreover such Open Universities have been granted exclusive territorial rights to design and develop such programs. In addition the tradition Universities who were offering distance learning programmes have been asked to stop such programs.

Exclusive rights have been provided to the open universities to conduct distance learning programs, with the provision of exclusive rights over a geographic territory.

In my view the fundamental aspects of good universities denied permission to offer distance learning programmes, is a denial of offering high quality programmes.

Also, providing exclusive geographical territory for an Open University, which has a large and sophisticated campus does not make sense.

Whether it is a traditional Brick & Mortar University or an Open university, they should not have exclusivities of programs and territories. It opens up the sector for a healthy competition, and will improve the quality of programs on offer.

The consumer, the student or the learner should enjoy the benefit of choosing the programs

This the freedom to learn. The Right to Learn being one of the fundamental rights cannot be constrained because another open University obtains fundamental rights to operate in territories where no other distance learning provider, in this case a University is constrained This is hegemony in Higher education, thus depriving the citizens the diversity of offerings.

Distance learning today is mostly dependent on contemporary pedagogies, digital learning content, Software and the internet Infrastructure. Most high-stakes tests and assessments, including proctoring happen online and are mostly automated.

Do we want to deny our students and working professionals of choice, diversity and quality of the programmes to learn?

We have our right to education, and a fundamental right too; Why constrain the quality and diversity for protecting their own turfs?

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About the author

D Sudhanva is the founder and CEO at Excelsoft Technologies, a globally renowned eLearning Solutions Company. With a focus on transforming education across the world, Sudhanva has steered Excelsoft to be a thought leader in Education Technology with robust products delivering innovative solutions.

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