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Distance learning or distance education has had quite an extensive history. It was first proposed in 1728 by a teacher named Caleb Phillips who posted an advertisement in the Boston Gazette for students who would be interested in learning shorthand with him through correspondence and lessons that would be sent to them on a weekly basis.
As time progressed, and partly due to the development of the postal service in the 19th century, the notion of learning through correspondence grew and became more widespread. The University of London was the first school to offer courses through this manner. Soon after, more universities and colleges put up their own open universities. Today, distance learning centers can be found all over the world. A number of them have even grown to become mega-universities that have over 100,000 students enrolled.
One very successful distance education provider, which is also considered the biggest in the world, is the Indira Gandhi National Open University of India. This open university caters to over 3 million students and provides over 3,000 different IGNOU courses.
The IGNOU was created in 1985 in the hope that it could help solve the education and literacy problems that were plaguing the country. Founders of the school urged the government to support the creation of an open university that would have jurisdiction over the entire country so that it could provide education to all individuals, no matter how remote the area they lived in was.
The school, once it was up and running, was an immediate hit. In 1989, they held their first convocation where more than 1,000 students were awarded their diplomas. Since then, many more individuals have been given an education. These people would not have had this opportunity had it not been for the school and the IGNOU courses that are available.
Another one of the successes of the school is that they were able to establish a wide educational network that currently consists of 43 Regional Centers, 6 Sub-Regional Centers, and 1,400 Study Centers that are located throughout India in order to provide easy access and effective support to students. They have also been able to build Special Study Centers for minority groups, differently-abled learners, jail inmates, and personnel of different wings of Defense and Para-military services. This means that the Indira Gandhi National Open University has not only managed to expand the education market and make it more accessible to students but it has also opened the doors of education to some of the more marginalized sectors.
But the success of this school and the benefits it has reaped are not only confined to India, as it has created alliances with other countries, namely Australia, the United Kingdom, France, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, and Liberia.
With over 338 programs of study, 3,500 IGNOU courses to choose from, a solid and well-trained workforce, and millions of students that are provided with education they would not normally have access to, the Indira Gandhi National Open University certainly has a success story that may well serve as an inspiration to many other countries and institutions for distance learning.
You can educate yourself more about IGNOU Courses [http://ignoucourses.org], how to enroll, and how distance education can benefit you and your future; visit [http://ignoucourses.org] for more information.
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