Kalpalata Patri



Initially christened   as correspondence courses and now developed to distance education and open learning system, the concept has become an important alternative of higher education. In developing as well as developed countries higher education is beset with a variety of problems, i.e finance, quantitative demand, instructional quality, catering to variety of needs and relevance etc. In order to answer all these problems and to make equality of educational opportunity a success we have to adopt distance education as an alternative strategy and develop it to a mass movement. To develop huge human recourse potentials available in India with limited resources and to make learning effective there is no other way than to look forward to distance education. This realization has gained momentum with the establishment of Indira Gandhi National University (IGNOU) at national level and a number of open universities at state level. In the secondary stage also National Open School and number of state level open schools are established to cater emerging needs. With advancement of communication technology, strengthening the autonomy and openness of learner and learning activities has now become imperative .We have to see to what extent the objective spelled out in opening up of open Universities is achieved .Few important objectives for opening Open Universities are: greater equality of opportunity of access to higher education;  opportunity for those who missed higher education when they are young and join carrier;  opportunity for those adults who would like to have access to higher education throughout life; and .help for  those who want to renew or upgrade their knowledge while in service. The terms - distance education, open universities, open schools are very much familiar in India. The basic question remains that to what extent openness or actual autonomy is enjoyed by the students in distance education. Here actual autonomy implies learner participation in farming curriculum, entrance policy, selection of course content, choice of methods. Media and technology, place of study, schedule, feedback and evaluation procedure. Analyzing different dimensions of openness the authors have identified following components viz,(i) learners intake (ii) entrance policy (iii) availability of seats (iv) objective of learner (v) counseling (vi) materials(vii) methods  (viii) course structure (ix) course choice (x) course choice(xi) media(xii) place of study(xiii) attendance (xiv) entry time ( xv) time of completion(xvi) time table, (xvii) method of assessment (xviii) type of assessment (xix) feedback(xx) date of assessment(xxi) coverage of assessment (xxii) support system (xxiii) place of support system (xxiv) mode of support system (xxv) destination, as major dimensions of openness. Taking all these dimensions a scale is developed by the authors viz, “Institution Closeness Openness Scale”   in order to know the extent of openness that exists in any distance education institution. The present study shall focus light and develop better understanding as to what extent correspondence courses offered by traditional Universities and IGNOU cater to needs and aspiration for open learning of students.



*To study the existing openness in correspondence courses and IGNOU as perceived by students of respective institutions.

*To compare the levels of openness between correspondence courses and IGNOU with reference to Orissa.

*To study the preferred futures of openness between CC and IGNOU as perceived by students of distance education towards 2005.



There will be no significant difference between the level of openness in CC and IGNOU.



The sample for the present study constituted of 165 IGNOU students and 235 correspondence students of Utkal and Berhampur University of Orissa. They were selected from study centers and contact program centers.



The data were collected by administering the “Institution Closeness – Openness Scale” developed by the authors. The institution Closeness Openness Scale consists of 25 dimensions. The alternatives are given in a continuum from least openness to complete openness with a 5 point scale. Against each component, the characteristics of closeness- openness continuum have been specifically mentioned in a 5 points scale, for instance on case of course choice dimension the alternative read as (i) No openness- whole course compulsory (ii) openness to some extent- a particular course with a few optional combinations (iii) Moderate openness- equal weight to major and minor papers (iv)High –openness credit system , courses with common core paper and large number of optional papers on modular and credit basis (v) Extreme openness – entire course including wide rang of optional papers on modular and credit basis.


Scoring Procedure

Weightage was given on the basis of ascending order of openness of 1 to 5 with 1 indicating least openness 2 openness to some extent , 3 moderate openness , 4 high openness , and 5 complete openness.



Mean scores of each dimension were calculated for CC and IGNOU respectively following criteria was fixed for data analysis. Above 4.50 - Complete openness 3.50 to 4.49-High openness 2.50 to 3.49- Moderate openness 1.50to 2.49 – openness to some extent Below 1.5 –least openness. The critical ratio test was used for analyzing the data in the context of the second objective. The interpretations of the results are presented as under.


Dimension wise comparison of present and future status of openness of CC &IGNOU in terms of mean value

The study covered 25 dimensions of openness: 1. Learner’s intake; 2. Entrance Policy; 3. Seats Availability; 4. Objectives of Learning; 5. Counseling & guidance; 6. Learning Materials; 7. Methods  of teaching; 8. Course Structure; 9. Course Choice; 10. Course Content; 11. Media; 12. Place of study; 13. Attendance; 14. Entry Time; 15. Time of Completion; 16. Time Table; 17. Method of Assessment; 18. Type of Assessment; 19. Feed Back; 20. Date of Assessment; 21. Coverage of Assessment; 22. Support System; 23. Place of Support System; 24. Mode of Support; and 25.Destination. Dimension wise comparison of present and future status of openness of CC &IGNOU in terms of mean value found that the students of IGNOU have perceived all the 25 dimensions as open to some extent (Mean values above 1.50 to 2.49) in contrast students of DCC have perceived no openness in all the 25 dimensions of openness closeness scale (Mean values ranges from 1.00 to 1.26) .This reveals that correspondence courses offered by DCC has remained mostly conservative. Though mean values in case of entrance policy (1.22) time of completion (1.22, mode of support system 1.26) and feedback (1.21) comes almost openness to some extent but it does not distinctly differentiate correspondence education to that of formal education. Flexibility is the important characteristics of distance mode which is not maintained in correspondence centers in the State of Orissa. Where as the IGNOU students’ perception reflects that, the above objective of complete openness has not been achieved satisfactorily. Hence  there is a great need to further opening up of IGNOU and its allied institutions so that the needs and aspirations for open learning comes true.


As stated above the t-test was applied to study the significance of difference of mean scores of openness closeness scale as responded by 165 IGNOU students and 235 correspondence students. The critical ratio values on different dimensions were tabulated. It was observed that in case of all the 25 dimensions perceived value of openness by IGNOU and CC students significantly differs from each other at 0.5 as well as 0.1 level. Further concerned mean score on openness criteria for IGNOU were found to be higher on an average than those of DCC.From above analysis it can be concluded that there existed significant difference between the openness  of mean scores of IGNOU and DCC with 99% level of confidence. Hence the null hypothesis of  no significance difference between the openness mean scores of IGNOU and DCC is rejected. It is ultimately revealed that the status of openness of correspondence courses offered by the directorate of correspondence courses of Utkal and Berhampur University Orissa is least open. Correspondence courses offered by traditional Universities have not been able to shed the shackles of rigidity, closeness and non-flexibility of the parent institution. It has just risen above the traditional system to cater to the needs of students who for some reason or other fail to get them admitted in traditional higher education. On the other hand IGNOU has opened up satisfactorily and significantly for its clientele as per perception of DE learners. But the high objectives and ideals for which IGNOU was opened has not been satisfactorily achieved its openness is really unimpressive. Hence, there is a need to assess and revitalize the institution so that open learning system becomes successful.



Students Perceptions of Preferred Future

The students of CC as well as IGNOU were asked about the preferred future regarding the openness of institution towards 2005 AD in Orissa. It was observed that CC students preferred high openness in future (Mean values 3.56 to 3.93) in all the 25 dimensions. On the other hand IGNOU students’ preference ranges from high level to complete openness. The IGNOU students preferred high openness in majority dimensions (20 out of 25) such as learners intake, entrance policy, seats availability, objectives of learning, counseling and guidance, learning material, methods of teaching, course structure, course choice, course content, media, place of study, attendance, entry time, time completion, time table, method of assessment, date of assessment, place of support system and destination (Mean values from 3.52 to 4.49 complete openness in rest six dimensions  such as type of assessment, feedback, support system ,mode of support system and coverage of assessment (Mean values 4.5 above). Students of CC perceived the present status as non-openness and expect to be highly open in future. Similarly, students of IGNOU perceived the present status as openness to some extent while preferring the futures from highly open complete openness. To conclude it can be said that both the groups of students are not satisfied the less openness existing in their institutions and preferred higher degree of openness in future.



From the above analysis of result it is seem that both the groups of students of CC and IGNOU are very much optimistic about the future of distance education in Orissa. It is a sign of positive indication. Educational planners and administrators of distance education system may take it into account for fulfillment of students’ expectations.