I earned two masters degrees through regular college and one masters and two diploma degrees through distance education. I got a diploma in computer education through on line. Hence, I am a good candidate to share some of my views on the topic whether distance education be a substitute for college. I have been a teacher at college level for several years.
I see two groups of students in any college, one joins the college and elects a branch of study completely out of their own interest and future plan. The other group get into the college just to enjoy the flavor of college life. Besides, the influence of their parents dominate over them. I belong to the first category. So my writing here is intended to those who comes under the category.
In developing countries getting into a college is very difficult. Besides it needs lot of money. Even after entering college, the process of education is hampered by various factors like strikes by teachers, students, etc. The standard of teaching is not uniform through out the country. Each University frames its own curriculum. The efficiency of teachers is also a questionable in some institutions. Not all the colleges are equipped with enough library resources and computer facilities.
Another important thing is college education is good only for rich people. The time table is not flexible. Students who have to earn for their own education can not dream about college education.
In distance education, all the above mentioned problems are overcome. We get competitive lesson plans and curriculum through distance education. We don’t have to sit in class at a regular time. We can work and earn for our education and learn though distance education in our free time. Interactive tele-conferences are also available now, through which we can interact with the professors. We can take as many courses as we can and want. We can study any branch of science/art based on our interest and availability of job in the field. The course materials can be downloaded to CD and DVD and can be listened to while we do some other work. Now a days, we can download to iPod player. Thanks to pod-cast technology.
Base on some of the merits mentioned above, I personally feel the distance education a better rather than a substitute for college.