Challenges in Introducing ICT in Professional Academic Programmes of a Distance Education University
Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) is Mega University which has been providing educational facilities from basic to PhD level to the deprived segments of the society within and outside the country under distance learning system for the last four decades. Targeting to reap the benefits of synergy, the COL took initiative and assembled four national open universities of South Asia during late 90s to collaborate in developing and launching CEMBA/CEMPA. The AIOU launched this programme in 2003 under ODL with enhanced face-to-face component. The programme assessment and monitoring was set as a foundation stone to assess its impact on all stakeholders including students, faculty, employers and society. The feedback from the learners indicated over 70% satisfaction level with the delivery mechanism. However about 30% expressed reservations on the available learner support facilities due to professional nature of the programme, disperse localities and personal commitments of the students. To address the problems of this dissatisfied segment, the AIOU decided to conduct multifaceted research to develop an improved delivery system tailored to learners’ needs in 2007. The stakeholders suggested ICT medication to overcome these barriers. Thus the AIOU started working on this. In 2008, online mode of CEMBA/CEMPA programme was added based on open source LMS augmented with moderate features like text chat and presentation. The continuous feedback from learners steered the AIOU towards further up-gradation. In 2012 LMS was upgraded to the latest version based upon web 2.0 and linked it to separately established web conferencing server enabling students to engage in more virtual classroom like environment with audio/video chat, desktop sharing, presentations, support for multiple document formats, recording of lectures for future reference changing the experience of learning for the students. This study will document the challenges faced during this endeavour. // Paper ID: 377
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