The world is rapidly transforming into a digital globe. Almost every affair of life is somehow connected now with digital mediums. Online stores, online food, online reservations, online billing, online banking, online learning, online thesis help, online gaming, and whatnot.
This digital age has also influenced distance learning which has become so common all over the world, especially after the corona pandemic. This blog will explore what distance learning actually is and what its benefits are. Further, it will discuss the scope and influence of distance learning in Pakistan. Moreover, the universities that are promoting distance education in Pakistan are also the main highlights of this blog.
What Does Distance Learning Mean?
Many people usually mix up distance learning with online education, but these are not the same. There is a slight difference between both learning strategies. In online education, not the students nor even the teachers are location-specified. The students are taught online, learn online as well as assessed. Whereas in distance learning, although students learn online, however, they have to visit the test location when it comes to the exam season.
Comparing both, distance learning is more effective than online learning, especially if you are a mature student and want to pursue higher education online. The reason is that most students start giving unfair leverage to themselves when they are assessed online while the onsite exams reduce the chances of any misconduct or cheating.
Advantages of Distance Learning In General
Distance Learning is the most effective way to get advanced education and build your career within the comfort of your home. The foremost benefits of this learning mode include:
- Flexibility in Time and Location: In the traditional education system, you are time-bound to attend the class at the location-specified institutes. While distance learning allows you to take classes on your laptop or phone or any other available digital device from any location you are at. Further, in distance learning, students are usually provided with recorded lectures that they can access whenever they have time, especially if in case they have missed the scheduled online class.
- Cost-Effective Distance Learning is cost-effective as compared to the traditional form of education. In the distance, students do not have to pay travel charges, nor have to rent a hostel dorm. The only expense is the tuition fee of the concerned virtual institution. In this way, students can save money for their further academic needs such as they can pay for an assignment writing service for their academic assistance. Or else, they can also preserve that amount for the fulfillment of their future goals.
- Exposure to the Digital World According to a study, students who are associated with distance learning are more familiar with the use of multiple digital resources than those who take traditional classes. This is because in distance learning all the assignments, research-based projects, reading, and writing, everything carries out through digital mediums. Students stay more connected with digital media and keep exploring new tracks in the digital world.
- A Vast Learning Experience In distance learning, students are not limited to course books and lectures. They are free to expand their knowledge through internet surfing. They have enough time to find relevant sites, read online research papers, case studies, and whatever they want, to excel in their respective fields.
The Current Status of Distance Learning In Pakistan
The scope of distance learning is fostering day after day. Distance learning universities in Pakistan are playing a vital role in promoting this education module and encouraging students to study online. The educational standards of these online universities and the worth of their degrees are now globally recognized. With each passing year, more students are taking interest in distance education, planning to switch their mode of education, and getting enrolled in Pakistan’s top-ranked distance learning universities.
Factors Influencing the Scope of Distance Learning In Pakistan
In Pakistan, it’s a fact that people do not accept any change or progressive idea so easily and promptly, then how come distance learning is flourishing in this country so fast? There are several factors that are influencing distance learning in Pakistan, some of which are as follows.
Favorable for Employed Students
In this fast-moving era, everyone is struggling hard to maintain living standards, no matter, if you are a student or a professional. Further, the day-by-day increasing inflation also forces students to make earnings along with their studies so that they can bear their educational expenses on their own. They are doing different part-time jobs to pay their tuition fee and all; someone is working as a data entry clerk, and somebody else is offering academic writing service to others. In short, most students are making great efforts to achieve their targets.
However, it is difficult to manage education and job responsibilities side by side. You cannot focus on both at one time. Therefore, distance learning is the best option to balance your academic and work life. The employed students don’t have to worry about their classes which they might miss during their job hours. They can listen to lectures and take notes in their free time or on weekends. In this way, it is for them to keep continuing their studies along with their jobs without compromising on any of them.
Elimination of Educational Constraints for Women
In Pakistani society, women are imposed to keep education as their last priority. Although it is unfair, still a fact that females in Pakistan face a number of barriers on their way to success on educational grounds. Firstly, conservative families do not allow their women to leave their homes for any reason. Secondly, they are forced to get married earlier, no matter what their educational status is. Even, if they are permitted to continue their education after the marriage, it would be much more challenging for them.
Managing household responsibilities and also being present at the university to attend lectures is way more stressful than one can ever think. In such scenarios, distance learning is a great opportunity for females in Pakistan who want to complete their education. They can study while staying in their homes and fulfill their educational goals without being stuck in any hurdles through distance learning.
A Better Opportunity for Rural People
The rural population of Pakistan makes a total of 62.56%. Unfortunately, there are no or fewer educational institutions in Pakistan’s rural areas where students can get quality education. Therefore, students have to travel to cities to take admission into well-reputed universities and colleges. However, most rural people are underprivileged and they cannot afford hostels’ and dorms’ rent. Considering this fact, distance learning is the most convenient option for students in rural areas.
Pakistan’s Top Leading Distance Learning Universities
A number of Universities offer distance education to students. The most renowned names are mentioned below.
Virtual University Pakistan (VU)
The Virtual University or VU is Pakistan’s top distance learning platform. The university was founded in 2002 and since then, leading the virtual education grounds. Its works under the Federal Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications. It has 210 campuses all over the country. Whether are searching for distance learning universities in Lahore or in any other big city of Pakistan, you’ll surely find the VU campus near you.
VU is the most affordable for students and is considered to be the cheapest distance-learning university in Pakistan. The university offers MS, MSc, BS, BSc, B.Ed, and PhD degrees, diplomas, certificate courses, and specialization certificates in more than 50 disciplines. The university also provides research opportunities to its students.
According to research, currently, 1,65,000 young folks are studying at VU. Its virtual doors are open for overseas students as well. Interested students can enroll themselves either in the SPRING semester of VUP or can opt for FALL admissions. The admission applications can be submitted online by logging in to the VU official website. You can also visit the nearest VU campus for more information.
COMSATS University was established in the year 1998. It has campuses in various cities of Pakistan while its main campus is located in Islamabad. First, it was recognized for its quality of education in terms of the traditional mode of learning, but later it introduced its virtual campus as well which is commonly demoted with a ‘V’, i.e. Vcomsats.
Vcomsats has 118+ full-time faculty teachers while 200+ are visiting PhDs. The university offers MS, BS, M.Sc, MCS, M.A, and BBS degrees to all Pakistani students. It is further planning to expand its virtual presence overseas. The university aims to enable students to find their purpose through the advancement of learning and expanding the boundaries of knowledge. It targets research and discovery, teaching and learning, and public service.
Allama Iqbal Open University
Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) came into existence in 1974. It was Asia’s first and World’s second-largest Open University when it was founded. AIOU is a government university that has made distance education feasible for millions; especially for those rural women who are the victims of patriarchal stereotypes and are enforced to live within the boundary walls of their houses. The mission statement of the university mentions this itself.
1,326,266 students are studying at AIOU this time, most of whom are females. AIOU offers a vast range of degrees and short courses concerning different subjects and faculties. In the areas of professional, scientific, and technological education, it is currently cracking previous records. It aims to provide distance education even to Pakistan's most isolated regions. Despite, being internationally recognized, AIOU still stands among the most affordable virtual universities in Pakistan.
Note: Preston University may also appear on the list if you look for a distance learning university in Karachi but it is actually not. It is Pakistan’s first private university founded in 1984 as the School of Business and Commerce. It has now campuses all over Pakistan still Preston University Pakistan doesn’t fall under the category of distance education.
This misconception that Preston University offers distance learning was formed during covid-19 when the university shifted its scheduled classes to the online pattern. However, it doesn’t offer online courses to distance learning opportunity seekers.
Is Distance Learning Actually Feasible for Pakistanis?
Pakistan, being an underdeveloped country, is still suffering from multiple crises due to which at some points, the circumstances do not support distance learning. Although the scope of distance learning is raising with each passing day in Pakistan, hindrances are still there. These include:
Load shedding of Electricity – Suppose you are virtually attending an important lecture and suddenly power goes. Now the Wi-Fi is off and you do not internet MBs on mobile. In such a situation you can do nothing but pray. Electricity shutdown is the most common problem that almost all Pakistani face, therefore, while choosing distance learning, students must keep this factor in mind.
Poor Internet Connections – Not all Pakistani students associated with distance education have a good internet connection. Whether using are using a zong internet device or a ptcl one, still the speed issue will remain there because of the vast number of connected devices. The constant internet throttling will not let you take your class with a stress-free mind. Nonetheless, if you have a strong internet connection then you may step forward.
Distracting Environment – In most Pakistani families, children are not given separate rooms which makes the online classes a bothering experience. The noise in the surrounding will never let you concentrate on your lectures. Even if you have your own space, still the parents, siblings, and other relatives keep interrupting the individual during their online lectures. Therefore, such a distracting environment seems to be a threat to distance education in Pakistani society.
If someone can manage to cope with all the above-mentioned issues then distance learning would be the wisest decision for them. No matter what, students must not comprise their education.
Distance learning is a revolutionary step toward success if adopted wisely. Pakistan is making great efforts to join hands with the digital world by introducing distance education to its students. Still, they need to understand that 'If you want to keep blessings being bestowed on you then you should be modernized in availing them'.