Education is a veritable tool for the emancipation of peoples from ignorance, poverty and deprivation. The issue of providing access to education through distance learning has therefore, gained unprecedented prominence. There is no doubt that, distance education is gradually finding its’ way through a competitive terrain by providing suitable alternative solutions to the ever growing needs of the world, particularly in the developing countries. It thus provides easy access to education. Human capital development objectives are not possible solely through the conventional Face-to-Face mode. The distance education process is an effective supplementary and complementary initiative to create wider accessibility to quality tertiary education. Distance Learning has the potential of making education accessible to marginalized students in all countries. It is a cost effective way for students to meet their families’ financial, social and educational commitments.
The use of technology in education is one of the major trends in educational reforms all over the world. Integrating technology into teaching and learning is a process widely perceived as a great asset in the reforms.
Use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT’s) assist the achievement of distance learning faster especially because it is provided on-line. The essence of the concept of distance learning is the mode of instructional delivery to its students from a distance whereby the teacher and the learners are separated from one another most of the time, except during short contact sessions on few occasions. It is this essence that informs the increasing level of importance being given to it because it thus creates access to education for many who would have otherwise not had such opportunities. ICT’s include print media, audio-visual method, multimedia or interaction television, cable, microwave, satellite lineages and fibre optics.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT’s) have positive impact on this mode learning. In this article I explain two of these effects.
Firstly, the digital teacher can deliver knowledge to students in mixed media (a blend of paper, USB sticks, DVD, e-books etc), interact with students synchronously via videoconferencing, and asynchronously via e-mail, efficient facilitator to scores of students using appropriate mix/blend of technologies and media including social networks such as Facebook, and Twitter. The lecturer can also chat with students online and offline. He/She can exploit the potentials of Mobile learning (M-learning) via SMS texts- bulk or group SMS, closed user groups (CUGs) and Phone links.
Secondly, television and video recording have a great influence on distance education. These technologies with personal computer and internet have reinvented the way students learn at a distance and aided the development of virtual classrooms and libraries. Students can view recorded lectures in form of CDs and DVDs hence,they don’t have to worry about missing any live interactions. It also reinforces understanding as the learners can go through the content taught at their own convenience.
From these impacts, technologies should therefore be properly integrated into distance education to widen its scope in order to strengthen the capacity of providers to meet the needs of its clientele.