Management of Distance Education

INTRODUCTION

A much ink has been shed to describe the Distance Education System. It is known by several names such as correspondence education, Independent Study, External study, Open learning, Open Education, Off-campus programme etc. In Distance Education Situations the learner and the teacher may be thousands of miles apart and yet a purposeful education conversation can take place. Knowledge, skills and attitudes can be effectively imparted without forcing the learner and the teacher to meet in the class room at fixed hours. The learning materials in print are different from class room texts or lectures notes. Audio-Visual media is to find their legitimate place in the educational fields. The distance learners are not remain loners although but have the opportunities to meet their teachers and their peer groups some times. Library and laboratory facilities are to be extended to enable the learners to get the maximum out of their learning. The evaluation methods are to evolved to test, not the rote memory but the actual learning of the learners.

Open education is based on Distance Education System. ‘Distance’ refers to the mode and ‘openness’ to the philosophy. Distance Education may or may not be open. On the other hand Open Education is possible both through Distance Education Institutions and the Formal Conventional Institutions. ‘Openness’ of the education is measured in terms of its flexibility or lack of restriction, in terms of number of seats, attendance, class timing, subject combinations etc. The Distance Teaching Institution which impart the education based on these principles are usually known as, Open Universities.

The Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University established in 1989, in its search for imparting quality education through Distance mode is trying to create a distinct identity in the Indian Open Education System. The YCMOU is the 5th Open University in India, and the fourth one at the State level with its goal of becoming a ‘Mass Varsity’, It emphasises on vocational, technical, professional as well as general educational programmes and its approach towards fostering a new work culture and development linkage. The University has set out to create an identity on the national educational scene. The University is trying to develop such management practices that will help it to become efficient, economical (cost-effective) and accountable at each level.

MANAGEMENT OF DISTANCE EDUACATION

Management is to translate plans into realities. Therefore planning is very important in any management Distance Education is a complex system and involves elaborate planning. Management refers to determination and divisionalization of activities, allocation of activities as assignable responsibility and delegation of authority. Here the term ‘management’ is used to convey such activities as processes of planning, decision-making, leadership, implementation and evaluation. The management of distance education is different from the management of conventional universities. The management of autonomous institutions is different from the management of mixed institutions. The broad framework of the management system of autonomous distance education institution is similar to conventional Universities, though it may be different in its orgnisational details.

In distance education, educational material has to be produced on a large scale and distributed to thousand of students scattered in different parts of the country. Also the technological aspect of distance education is very sophisticated. All these make distance education institutions more complex than conventional institutions. In some sense, they can be compared to industrial processes involving technology at production and distribution stages and incorporating features of constant monitoring and upgrading.

Therefore, it is necessary to think of the planning of distance education, stages of work, organizational structure and the activities to be carried out in the Distance Education System.

PLANNING

Planning during conceptual stage, planning during evolutionary and growth stage and planning during maturity are the three stages of planning. After an institution is established detailed the planning regarding the objective, strategies and operational plans, implementation of plans, policies and procedures for control and evolution need to be spelled out. Dodd. J. as given in Keegan D., in ‘Distance Education’ has given the guide lines for planning. He thought of the students, courses, teaching year media (printed broad-cast and Non broad cast), faculty support, assessment, examination, administration, finance management and the date of opening of the programme. In addition to Dodd. J., the purpose of all planning activity at institutional level is to ensure cost effectiveness at the time of actual operations.

As it already mentioned, YCMOU is established in 1989, it has its own planning at its conceptual stage. Now after 10 years of its establishment when it is at evolutionary and growth stage, detailed plan pertaining to all its programmes, organization structure, its instruction materials, media (print, audio video etc.) etc. have been chalked out thoroughly. It is adopting  the new technology coming forth and facilitating  its learners.

STAGES OF WORK

Broadly speaking, there are six stages of work of distance education.

1)     Planning of Programmes.

2)     Development of instructional materials.

3)     Production of instructional materials.

4)     Delivery of materials and services (counselling, assessment etc.)

5)     Evaluation of products, processes and services.

6)     Maintenance and Revision of instructional programmes.

While planning of Programmes, distance educationalist has to think which programmes are going to be developed, long term programmes or short terms programmes. At the developmental stage he has to think of study text audio-video cassettes, kits etc. in the production stage he has to think of the books multicopying of audio and videocassettes and kits. At the delivery stage he has to think of registration of students material supply, counselling, student evaluation and study centre management. At the evaluation stage he has to think of products, processes and services. At the maintenance and Revision stage, he has to think of programmes.

YCMOU has thought of all stages of work of distance education and tried to establish the Divisions and Centres and allocate the functions to them.

ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE

The success of any institution depends upon the structure of the institution and the social system evolved. Structure gives stress on authority, division of labour rules and regulations and impersonality. It requires decisions to be rational and hierarchical control. Job analysis, role clarity and job ranking are to be considered while thinking of structure. The organisational structure also affect the management. Therefore, structure of the organization would help to serve a strategy with maximum efficiency and effectiveness. The structure of an organization is determined by the functions and objects of the organization.

There is no one-structure design which would always serve a strategy with maximum efficiency and effectiveness. The scope of activities of the institution and the geographical coverage affects the structure. However, it would be advisable for an institutional planner to keep the following factors in mind while deciding about the institutional structure.

i)     It must encourage innovation on the part of academic, staff, students and all the other associations.

ii)   It must serve the institutional objectives both in the short and long run.

iii) It must facilitate the institutional communication process both within and outside with various interest groups.

iv) It must contribute towards organisational climate by encouraging participation, rather than isolation, between the various officials and academics; and between the institution and the outside world.

v)   It should facilite decision-making and various implementation processes.

vi) It must fulfil the aspirations for professional growth of officials and academics and

vii)              It must provide for task and role clarity for various agencies and top officials involved in the implementation. The stability of top-level leadership is also an essential requirement of the structuring process.

The Y.C.M.O.U. has tried to evolve a simple, well-demarcated organisational structure that provides for operational efficiency, productivity, quality and accountability. The University Act describes a minimum organisational structure and leaves good scope for evolving innovative formal structure and non-formal practices, suited to an open university system. It is appropriate to the functions of the University. It allows efficient and cost-effective decision making, quicker implementation and it is a good mechanism for accountability and change. It is operationally efficient and it is better for productivity and quality of the programme.

The Governor of the State of Maharashtra is the Chancellor of the University. The Vice-Chancellor functions as the chief Executive officer. The Vice-Chancellor is assisted by Directiors of the school, the Registrar and the Finance officer. They togerther form the core team.’

The Board of Management (BOM) is the principal executive body.  The Academic Council (AC) is the principal academic body and the Planning Board (PB) is principal planning body. All the members on both bodies come by their respective posts or by nominations. Finance Committee (FC) is the principal body to make the financial recommendations to the Board of Management, whereas School Councils (SC) are the bodies to make a academic and other recommendations in respect of their schools.

ACTIVITIES.

Kaye. A. and Rumbled G. in their book ‘Distance Teaching for Higher and Adult Education’ has viewed a system of distance education. They think the Distance Educational Institutions can be analysed in terms of an integrated system of operating, logistic and regulatory subsystem. Operating subsystem, Converts system inputs into output. The main output of the Distance Learning system are courses and educational pupils. The function of the logistics subsystem is to procure and replenish inputs through activates such as purchase and maintenance of equipments. The regulatory subsystem is at the core of the system and facilities coordination of various activities of the institution and relates organization to its environment. Planning Control and evaluation are the under line processes in this subsystem.

In each of this subsystem the task would centre around three processes.

I)    Determination and divisionalization of the activities.

II)   Allocation of the divisionalized activities as some ones as sign responsibility. And

III)     Delegation of Authority commensurate with responsibility.

YCMOU is trying to demarcation of its activates and responsibilities. There were four main divisions, The academic division including of seven schools and Students’ Services Division including five sections namely Registration, Examination, Store and Despatch, Evaluation and Study Centre Management. The Directors of schools avail the entire responsibility of their schools concerned. It is very difficult to manage all the activities of distance education system sitting in the main office of the University

The success of any management depends upon the execution or implementation of the work assigned to it. Every division/ centre has to work to perform the activities assigned to the division/ centre.

Delegation of Authority is very important factor in any management. The responsibility and the authority go hand in hand. It is very good to delegate the authority to the middle management also. Officials in the middle management always affects the implementation of all the processes. Morever non-academic staff in the distance education system works very close to the academic staff. Mobility to the non-academic to the academic and academic to the non-academic always strengthen the management of Distance Education.

CONCLUSION -:

Management refers to determination and divisionalization of activities, allocation of activities as assignable responsibility and delegation of authority. Management in distance education means the management of the activities to be performed in distance education system, which is the integrated system of operating, logistic and regulatory subsystems. The organisational structure always facilitates the functioning of the management. All the Distance Education institutions have to give statutory support to their organisatin structure of the Institutions. The principles adopted in the society should be followed and lead the society towards its upliftment.

REFERENCES -:

1)     Anderson, Alan H. (1997) ‘Effective Personnel Management’ a skills and activity based approach, published by Jaico Publishing House, 121, M.G. Road, Mumbai – 100 023.

2)     Bhatia S. K. (1988) ‘Personnel Management and Industrial Relations’ (New Ideas, Trends and Experiences) Published by Deep and Deep Publications D-1/24, Rajouri Garden, New Delhi – 110 027

3)     Dodd. J. ‘Planning a New Distance Teaching University’ ICDEBulletin Vol.6 September 1984.

4)     Dodd. J. as given in Keegan D. ‘Distance Education’

5)     Distance Education in Asia and the Pacific Volumn – I (1987) Published by the Asian Development Bank, P.O.Box 789, Manila, Philippines.

6)     Distance Education in Asia and the Pacific Volumn -II (1987) Published by the Asian Development Bank P. O. Box 789, Manila, Philippines.

7)     Distance Education in South Asia (1990) Published by the Asian Development Bank P. O. Box 789, Manila, Philippines.

8)     Kaye, A and Rumbled, G. ‘Distance Teaching for Higher and Adult Education, London, croom Helm, 1981 P. 20-22.

9)     Mehta K.K. (1990) Organisational Behaviour, Published by Printwell Publisher on behalf of Roopa Books (P) Limited S- 12, Shooping Complex, Tilaknagar, Jaipur 302 004.

10) Sahni, S.K. and Sundaresh, G.S. (1982) Office Organisation and Management, (Third Edition) Published by Mohan Primlani for Oxford and IBH Publishing Co., 66, Janpath, New Delhi 110 001.

11)YCM Open University Annual Report 1996.

12) YCM Open University Eighth Plan proposal.