Dr. S. Ganesan

Regional Director, IGNOU

Human learning is not always from structured methods. Many of our learning come from variety of unorganized ways too. The gateways of learning of human being are the five sense organs, namely ears, nose, eyes, tongue and skin touch. Mostly the eyes and ears play a major role in our learning process as compared to other sense organs. Learning from a reading material like book can be considered as one way of structured, formal learning process. Because, the contents of the books is logically, sequentially organised for the benefit of reader. In Open and Distance Learning (ODL) method of education process also, the printed study material (books) are developed to facilitate self-learning process of a distance learner. That is why the printed material of ODL systems are called as ‘Self -Learning Material’ (SLM) instead of normal terminology of ‘study material’ or book.

Four wall class room method of learning normally end at school education level and slowly the self-learning process takes-off at college /university level education. This transition is natural and sometime unnoticed also. Having provided the syllabus /outline/topics of a subject, the college student search the relevant matching books from libraries to learn the subjects. For some subject, the classroom teaching-learning process may complete full portion of the syllabus. Contents of a subject being huge, the normal classroom teaching at college level can able to cover only certain part of syllabus only. Here, the college student claims the ladder of Self-Learning (SL). The degree of self-learning depends on the individual. Some students prefer more of SL and others may expect classroom support. In higher education systems, the degree/quantum/level of self-learning increases at UG, PG, research degrees. In other words, the requirement of SL is high in PG courses as compared to UG courses. Thus, the SL process increases with our age also. The matured adult learner becomes autonomous (independent) learner in a phased manner.  That is, the dependency on teacher becomes to a lower order as SL grows to a higher level. This sea-saw balance effect is quite natural in education system. The skill of SL itself is a art & science. The SLM develops, facilitates skills of SL to become a successful distance learner in ODL system.

Getting admission in a ODL system/distance education university is easy; but, getting-out with qualifying degree/diploma is not that easy. The path of success in ODL system is determined by your SL skill. The basic self-motivation of a learner promotes the SL skills gradually. It updates automatically too. Normally, Distance Education universities provide 10% of credit hours for academic support services (like classroom tutorials); the rest 90% of academic learning is left to adult autonomous distance learner himself/herself. The learner has more Self -Learning skills, higher the level of independence. Thus, we can easily notice the positive relationship between SL and independence. The ODL platform provides the independency through SL process. This truth is being experienced by almost all the Distance Learners of ODL system.

As a self-evaluation process, if one tries to answer the following questions, it will give a measure (level) of SL skill of a person. Testing the level at the entry time in ODL system and also at exit time, will give the improvements in the skill upgradation in a person, if any. These questions are also sensitizing an adult to become successful Self Learner.

•               Do you have sufficient self-motivation to read / study the study material of IGNOU regularly? 

•               Do you appreciate and ready to practice the self-evaluation process in Study Material?

•               As an adult learner with high level of autonomy, will you be self-committed for your own study in IGNOU?

•               Your learning style / methodology will match with distance learning mode?

•               Are you capable of deciding your own study time, its frequency, duration of study etc.?

•               Are you able to take the ‘responsibility of a teacher’ so as to carry out your independent study by your own?

•               Do you have the capacity to plan and organize your studies on daily / regular basis, without the support of a teacher / facilitator?

•               Do you capable to understand the non-verbal items such as maps, graphs, charts etc. in your study material?

•               Do you think, you have enough ‘Reading Skills’ for self-learning process?

•               Do you have any idea of SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Recall, Review) technique of reading?

•               Do you have the reading habit of 'Index', Contents, Glossary, introduction, Summary etc of a book?

•               Do you keep a pencil / pen while reading a study material, for note-making purposes and also maintain your active reading process?

•               Do you know the purposes of wide margins given in printed study material of IGNOU? 

•               Do you use audio, video, other media / material support items to compliment / supplement your independent learning in Open and Distance Education system?

•               Are you able to manage your studies using the self-explanatory, self-contained study material of IGNOU?

•               Will you be ready to supplement your readings by writing additional notes / remarks / observations on blank page(s) provided at the end of Unit / Block?

•               Do you have the curiosity to check ‘your responses’, with the ' possible / model answers’ given at the end Unit of IGNOU Study Material?   

•               Do you think, you are more independent and less dependent on a teacher for your study in distance education?

It is a well known fact that the learning process is facilitated by peaceful, calm and comfortable environment. It promotes the concentration on reading the material. Andaman and Nicobar Islands have such good environment for reading and studies. I hope, you all will agree with me. Thousands of Government Officers come to A & N Islands on transfer for few years tenure. It is possible, when they submit their joining letter (while reporting on duty), we can provide admission letter in any academic programme of IGNOU like ODL system. Similarly, latter at the end of their tenure completion of 2 or 3 years at A & N Islands to get reliving letter along with a certificate/diploma/degree from ODL system is possible. This possibility of returning main - land with one academic certificate can be explored by all Govt. units of A & N Islands. It will definitely convert the A & N Islands as a virtual classroom for Govt. servants on transfer.

Hence, it is obvious to conclude the existence of correlation between Self -Learning and independence in education. Let us all provide the Self -Learning skills to our younger generations, to develop more and more independence, for the growth and self -sustenance of our country.

(The author is Regional Director of IGNOU, Regional Centre, Port Blair and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (M-8900936718)