By Prof Dr Maheswari Kandasamy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Open and distance learning (ODL) has provided learners, especially working professionals, with more opportunities to further their studies. As a result, workers of today have become much more open to career changes as compared to past generations.
ODL is now moving towards increasing automation in teaching and learning processes, using an application known as the Learning Management System (LMS), which runs on the internet platform. In addition, a growing trend in ODL is the use of "hybrid", "blended" or "multimodal" instructional approaches that replace or supplement in-class instruction with technologically enabled teaching and learning known as e-learning, which in many cases utilizes the many tools bundled with the LMS.
Demand for ODL is increasing with the advent of new innovations and enhanced use of information and communication technology (ICT). As ICT becomes more sophisticated, demand for new knowledge will increase for both the ICT literate and illiterate. As technologies become more affordable and readily available, educational options will continue to expand.
In future, ODL will capitalize on network technologies running on smartphones and as video conferencing. Thus, m-learning and virtual learning may be options to consider. In future, too, corporations will consider entering into partnerships with learning institutes and ODL providers.
In addition, a major part of formal learning will take place online, freeing learners from the constraints of the conventional classroom. The role of teachers will become more diversified with the demand for better instructors. Consequently, competition in the education markets as well as corporations will increase.