With the increasing number of older and retired persons in India and across the globe, learning and education has become one of the primary means to improve their quality of life. An increasing number of senior citizens in India are opting for post-graduation studies or higher education to increase their knowledge levels or to keep themselves engaged. Research studies also conclude that higher education not only works as a stimulating learning environment for older adults but also provides them with a more meaningful aging experience.
Reflecting this trend, many on-campus universities are also encouraging retired professionals to enroll for their courses. However, the idea of returning to the classrooms can be daunting for most retired people, even though they still have the urge to learn something new. For such students, distance education has emerged as a more practical mode of learning, offering multiple advantages, as listed below, as compared to the on-campus education.
Many individuals post retirement like to keep themselves busy with a variety of activities, instead of sitting in front of the television for the entire day. Pursuing a program of their choice from a distance education university is more convenient particularly with the level of time flexibility that it offers for such busy individuals, as compared to attending a on-campus program with a fixed daily schedule.
Despite the number of universities now accepting student enrollment from older retired people, they are still not ready to fully embrace retirees into their ranks. Additionally, older people face difficulties going back to the college campus, or attempting examinations, or studying among younger students. Thanks to the use of technology, distance education can be pursued by retired people from the comfort of their homes and at their own comfortable learning pace.
Among its major advantages, distance education bridges the geographical distance between students and good teachers through the use of technology. This is particularly relevant for retired people who, depending on their physical fitness, may find it challenging to commute to on-campus universities on a daily basis. However, thanks to technology, they can still communicate with their teachers through videoconferencing, email messages, and multimedia devices.
Depending on the subject or specialization, higher education programs from quality universities in India can be very expensive to pursue and complete. In addition to the yearly term fees, students also need to shell out money for other needs and campus activities. This factor can be challenging for retired people with no active source of income and with no future earning potential. As compared to on-campus, distance education programs are more economical and sustainable for retired people.
Distance education in India has enabled senior citizens to reinvest their time and effort in the education space, thus adding to their learning and improving the quality of life. Challenges such as age bias, inflexibility of time and space, physical and mental constraints associated with old age, along with safe transportation issues, all of which are associated with the on-campus education model, can be easily overcome using distance education and technological innovation.