Open and Distance Learning Transformed: Possible Adaptations to Suit Special Contexts
Open University of Sri Lanka, LK
Professor G.I.C. Gunewardena is the CoL and UNESCO Chair of the Open University of Sri Lanka. She is an Emeritus Professor, an eminent researcher and a scholar in the field of Education. She had worked as a Course Design Specialist in the Distance Education Modernization Project (DEPP) for a number of years and was the former Dean of Faculty of Education, OUSL. Her interests lie in the areas of Sociology in Education, Comparative Education, Distance Education and Teacher Education.
Professor G.D. Lekamge currently serves as the Dean of the Faculty of Education, Open University of Sri Lanka. She is working as the Editor of the OUSL Journal. She has completed a number of research studies on quality improvement of Faculty Programmes and national level issues under World Bank funds. Her interests include Distance Education, Teacher Education, Educational Psychology and Research Methodology.
With the integration and advancement of new technology, Distance and Open Learning has taken different forms. It has gradually become more general, less non-traditional and sometimes a main trend in several countries. This article discusses the concept of Open and Distance Learning and focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of different models of ODL, especially for countries like Sri Lanka. The Correspondence Model based on print technology mostly has now evolved into the Intelligent Flexible Learning Model which aims to capitalize on the fastness of the Internet and the Web. While the Fifth Generation of ODL offers a large number of advantages, several constraints such as marginalization of certain groups of learners who were not raised with digital technologies, the credibility of data and information downloaded from the Internet, speed of the Internet, the time taken to download and upload materials and the time taken by the instructors to respond to students have been identified. While technology is an effective strategy to overcome barriers to education, its use could also impose other barriers. The authors stress that any technology which does not facilitate those who are really disadvantaged and bequeaths advantages only to those who already have access to formal education should be weighed carefully for its costs and benefits.
How to Cite:
Gunawardena, G. and Lekamge, G., 2010. Open and Distance Learning Transformed: Possible Adaptations to Suit Special Contexts. OUSL Journal, 6, pp.22–43. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/ouslj.v6i0.4112