Editor’s Note: The Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University in Nashik, India determined that counselor better describes the instructor role in distance education. The student is responsible for his or her own learning under the guidance of a counselor. Diagnostic-prescriptive tools determine individual student needs and monitor progress. Interactive multimedia, delivered via a Learning Management System, is complemented by individual tutoring and other learning activities prescribed by the counselor.
Assessment of Counselor’s Training Imparted through Multimedia Module in Engineering Programmes of
Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University
Sunanda More, Sanjivani Mahale
Quality of education is a major concern of the Open and Distance Learning Education System (ODES) due to globalization of education. Among the various parameters, counseling is said to be one important factor in bringing out quality in distance education. The quality of counseling and overall performance of ODES can be improved by 1) imparting rigorous training to improve the skills required for counseling students, 2) changing the attitude of counselors and students towards distance learning and/or 3) using innovative techniques or media for counseling to achieve better learning. These efforts will definitely help to improve quality of education and reduce the learner’s drop-out rate in ODES.
The Distance Education system makes use of counseling in place of teaching to impart various educational programmes and the course. Although the self-instructional study material along with the audio-video support is provided, one can not eliminate the need of “human support” in distance education. This human support is given by the counselors. One major challenge to ODES in the past was how to empower, support and train counselors to provide better counseling to the students? Another was how can we make use of technology during training?
This study was carried out on the counselors of B. Tech. Electronics and Mechanical Engineering Programme of the Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU), Nashik, MS, India. This programme is offered through distance mode across all the recognized study centers scattered in Maharashtra State. Counselors were trained with the help of a multimedia module developed on Counseling.
Research findings are helpful in improving our present system teaching and learning. Research findings provide valuable insight for the policy makers, designers and developers of Open and Distance Learning Systems (ODES).
Keywords: Education, Role of Counselor, Role of Student, Learning, Training, ODES, YCMOU, Multimedia, Engineering Programmes, Face-to-Face Counseling, Skills of Counseling
The concept of education is as old as human culture itself. Education plays a vital role in development of human potential and thereby in national development. Tripathi & Mukerji (2008), described the education system of India as one of the largest education systems in the world. It caters to the needs of more than 1,028 million people (as per 2001 Census). Education has been accorded prime importance and thus it has found place in the Fundamental Rights (Part III) of the Constitution of India.
Though the expansion of higher education was rapid, only about 10% of the eligible age-group (18-24) is getting the benefits of higher education. This picture clearly shows 93-94% student population is not part of the higher education in India.
This means that the conventional education system has failed to provide equal opportunities to all in terms of access, need-based quality education, and cost effectiveness.
The “Open and Distance Education System (ODES)” is a flexible and learner oriented parallel education system supposed to be capable of providing a better quality education and student support services directly to the learner at a distance. The distance education system is based on three parameters: 1) Self-study, 2) Flexibility and 3) Learner Autonomy. Along with this, academic inputs and support services are provided to the students at their study centers by the counselor and study centre co-coordinator.
Due to globalization of education, the issue about quality of education in ODES has become imperative. Hence quality of education is a major concern before the ODES. Among the various parameters, counseling is said to be one of the important factors in bringing out quality in distance education. Quality of counseling and the overall performance of ODES can be improved by 1) imparting rigorous training to improve the skills required for counseling the students, 2) by changing the attitude of counselors and students towards distance learning and/ or 3) using innovative techniques or media for counseling to achieve better learning. These efforts will definitely help to improve quality of education and reduce the learner drop-out rate in ODES.
Background about Electronics Engineering Programme
The School of Science and Technology of Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Nashik, started B.Tech. in Electronics Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Programmes in the academic year 2004 through the distance mode in India. The School implemented a few innovative strategies for making these engineering programmes popular among the society for example introduced of various managerial innovations; curriculum was totally revamped to ensure relevance to today’s industry needs, and implemented use electronic media such as e-mail and Internet in its Programmes to support the students and study centers. This is the first technical academic programme in India offered with Internet-based Learning methodology. Now every year student enrolment is increasing; from 2,000 students in 2004 to about 10,000 students in 2008. All over the state of Maharashtra, about 186-248 counselors at 62 different study centers, offer academic support to these students, distributed over 0.3 million km2 (about 800 km north-south and 600 km east-west).
Though these programmes are running well and getting student enrollment, School could not equip counselors of these engineering programmes by giving proper orientation/ training about counseling.
Hence, there is a need to train counselors to improve their skills so that they could utilize face-to-face counseling time for effective counseling.
Need for Research
Distance education system makes use of counseling in place of teaching to impart various educational programmes and the course. Although the self-instructional study material along with the audio-video support is provided, one can not eliminate the need of “human support” in distance education.
Those who work for distance education system belong to basically conventional system of education. Counselors working in ODES are basically faculties working in conventional system. For them, concept of ODES, its philosophy, counseling, how to provide better and effective counseling all these aspects are new. They know teaching very well but may not be aware about counseling. Hence proper training is required to those who are part and parcel of ODES.
The researcher feels that the field of counselor’s training about counseling has significantly large potential yet to be carefully explored. It is hence essential to better support, train and equips the counselors for the job of counseling in a Distance Learning environment by giving those additional learning inputs and by observing methods of counseling at their study centers.
Role of Students and Counselor
Role of Student
The primary role of the student is to learn. Under the best of circumstances, this challenging task requires motivation, planning, and the ability to analyze and apply the information being taught. In a distance education setting, the process of student learning is more complex for several reasons (Schuemer, 1993).
There are several reasons for taking courses and drop-out reasons of the distant students.
Reasons for taking admission in ODES are to:
Obtain a degree for social status
Qualify for a better job
Qualify for promotion
Satisfy the conditions of employer
Broaden their education
Reasons for drop-out in ODES are:
Problems related to age, other studies, jobs/self-employment, family, health, etc
Lack of motivation, feeling of isolation.
Lack of immediate support services, rigidity in the system.
Poor quality of instruction by the counselor.
Unskilled counselor and poor quality of learning material.
Teaching and learning at a distance is demanding. However, learning will be more meaningful and “deeper” for distant students if the students and their instructor share responsibility for developing learning goals and objectives; actively interacting with other students; promoting reflection on experience; relating new information to examples that make sense to learners; maintaining self-esteem; and evaluating what is being learned. This is the challenge and the opportunity provided by distance education.
Role of Counselor
The role of the counselor is to facilitate the process among all the students, provide all kinds of resource and act as a resource himself in the classroom. Lastly the role of counselor is that of researcher and learner with much to contribute in terms of appropriate knowledge and abilities, actual and observed experience of nature learning and organizational capacities. Counseling is much more difficult and different than teaching. Some experts say counseling is a difficult task. The good teacher may not be a good counselor. Counseling is a technique. The counselor should first of all learn this technique. More illustrations and exhaustive thinking is required to practice the counseling on the students. Counseling is the backbone of the distance education system and is one of the strong and important elements of student support services.
The counselor is like a teacher in a conventional system. But actually there is a drastic difference in teaching and counseling. It has been experienced that a good teacher may not be a good counselor. Apart from content delivery, a counselor needs many more skills than a teacher needs for his job of teaching. In that sense, the term “counselor” is much broader and more meaningful.
The success of the distance education mostly depends on the counselor and his job i.e. counseling. Better quality counseling helps the student not only during his/her course of study but even in his future career. The role of counselor and counseling is of prime importance and needs careful attention. He/ she is the key person who can bridge the gap between the students and the system. Certain efforts have to be made to develop various skills and the attitude required for better counseling in distance education.
Objective and Sample for Research Work
This research study was designed to assess the counselor’s questionnaire about training on the “Generic Module on Counseling”
YCMOU offers this Electronics Engineering Programme through distance mode through the network of 33 recognized Study Centers spread in 8 Regions of Maharashtra as on March 2006.
By a sampling method, researchers selected a total of 17 study centers scattered in Mumbai, Nashik and Nagpur Regions of Maharashtra to examine the counselor’s feedback about counseling. This sample is about 51.5% of the total population of about 33 study centers.
This research was conducted on a sample of counselors for Engineering Programmes selected from three regions. Training was imparted through the ‘Multimedia Module’ developed by the researcher. With this module counselor were given necessary knowledge and skills required during real face-to-face counseling.
The researcher followed standard practice for multimedia content and script development for this multimedia module. Content was edited by a subject expert and a distance educator. The content was suitably modified as suggested by the experts before the final recording of each module.
This multimedia module was developed in “Camtasia Studio”, and authoring tool designed specially for audio-video recording. The developed project is played in Windows Media Player. This software is freely and easily available on web. Therefore the multi-media CD developed in Windows Media Audio/Video file is very easy to play on a computer system.
The researcher conducted three workshops at Nagpur, Mumbai and Nashik for the approved counselors of B.Tech. Electronics and Mechanical Engineering Programmes.
A well-structured feedback questionnaire was prepared to collect qualitative responses about this module. Accuracy of collected feedback was validated and confirmed during personal interaction. This collected data was analyzed to provide the comments, judgments and suggestions.
Following instruments or tools were used in this research.
CD based multimedia module
Development of Research Tools
A well-structured feedback questionnaire was developed to collect general information on the profile of each counselor and about the impact of each counselor’s training on ODES. Accuracy of collected feedback was validated and confirmed during personal interaction. This collected data was analyzed to provide comments, judgments and suggestions.
Details of questionnaire designed for the counselors are as shown in Table 1.
Design of questionnaire for Counselors
Title of Questionnaire
Type of Questions
Questionnaire about Generic Module on “Counseling for the Counselors in ODES”
Steps followed for Development of Training Module
The development process of the multimedia module consists of following important steps. All the steps were followed carefully.
Content outline of each module
Objectives for each module
Script writing for as per the topics
Review and modifications
Content editing for each module by the content and distance educator
Modifications as suggested by experts
PowerPoint preparation for each module
Screen design and points highlighted on the screen
Preparation figures, pictures, tables, charts in power point or its scanning
Power point module with notes ready for each module
Recording of each module with Camtasia Studio authoring tool
Editing of audio files
Insertion of video files
Vetting and modifications of each module
Creation of final Windows Media Audio Video file
Use of each developed module in training workshops for counselors
Development of Generic Module on Counseling
This generic module is developed for the following objectives. This module is basically useful to all the counselors associated with the distance education. Sample of screen is shown above.
Brief overview of the content covered in this generic module on counseling is as follows.
Content Outline of Generic Module on Counseling
· About Type of Education
o Formal, Non-formal and Informal Education
· Paradigm Shift in Education
· Concepts in Education
o Correspondence, Distance and Open Education
· About Open and Distance Education System (ODES)
o Evolution of Open and Distance Education
o Growth of Open Universities
o Features of Open and Distance Education
o Learner Support in ODES
o Comparison of ODES and Conventional Education System
· About Counseling
o Definitions of Counseling and its Description
o Activities during Counseling
o Difference between Teaching and Counseling
o Characteristics of Distant Learner
o Types of Counseling
· Counseling Cycle
· Objectives of Counseling
o Basic Qualities of Counselor
o Personal Qualities of Counselor
o Skills of Counselor
o Roles of Counselor
o Pre-Counseling Activities
· Methods of Counseling
o Classification of Counseling
· Benefits from F-F Counseling
· Teaching Tools for F-F Counseling
· Teaching Strategies for F-F Counseling
Analysis of Collected Data
Counselors were trained in three different workshops for the proper implementation of both the methods of counseling before collecting the well structured feedback. Accuracy of the collected feedback was validated and confirmed during personal interactions. This data was analyzed using advanced statistical methods and T-test to ensure high accuracy in data analysis.
Data Analysis of Counselor’s Feedback
Profile of Counselors
Profile of counselors who participated in three different workshops conducted by researcher for the counselors are as shown in Table 2.
Profile of counselors participated in training
Place of Training
No of Counselors
SC Head or
Up to 5 yrs Experience
Above 5 yrs Experience
A total of 83 Counselors attended training on the “Basic Module on Counseling”; 83% were male and 17% were female counselors. About 58% counselors had Undergraduate qualification and 42% had Postgraduate qualification in their discipline. In training, 30% had additional responsibility like Study Centre Head or Coordinator and 70% were counselors. 47% of counselors were associated with polytechnics, 40% with engineering colleges and 13% were associated with other types of study centres. 75% of counselors had 0 to 5 years of educational or industrial or professional experience and only 25% of counselors had more than 5 years experience. Graphical presentation of the profile of counselors who participated in three different workshops are shown below.
Generic Module on “Counseling for the Counselors in ODES”
A total 30 questions were asked on the content covered in the Generic Module on “Counseling for the Counselors in ODES.” A total 83 counselors participated in three different training cum orientation workshops. The generic Module on “Counseling for the Counselors in ODES” was played during the workshop, this questionnaire was circulated and at the end, counselors submitted their feedback.
The responses for each statement were on 5-point scale as Strongly Agree, Agree, Strongly Disagree, Disagree and No Opinion. From these responses, the responses for Strongly Agree and Agree were clubbed together to Strongly Agree (SA). Similarly, the responses for Strongly Disagree and Disagree were clubbed together to Strongly Disagree (DA). Since the responses for ‘No Opinion’ was negligible, it was ignored. Details of Questions, responses and percentage for each question are shown in Table 3.
Table 3 (a)
Responses of Counselor
Q 1: ODES is mixed-mode design of formal, non-formal and informal type of education.
Q 2: ODES is flexible, open and learner-centric education system.
Q 3: Counseling means to help, guide and support learners to solve their difficulties.
Q 4: Counselor should talk more during counseling session.
Q 5: There is no difference between Counseling and Teaching.
Q 6: Counseling means Tutoring and Non-academic Counseling.
Q 7: The job of the counselor is to evaluate learner’s progress and provide feedback.
Q 8: Objectives of counseling are to master the learner in course content and improve their skills by expanding knowledge.
Q 9: During counseling, the whole syllabus shall be taught by the counselor.
Q 10: Advance planning and scheduling for counseling helps learners and counselor.
Fig 6 (a): Responses of counselor
Table 3 (b)
Responses of counselor
Q 11: Use of new technology during counseling is prohibited.
Q 12: Any well-qualified and experienced person having faith and positive attitude about ODES philosophy can function as a Counselor.
Q 13: Face-to-face counseling in a classroom is an asynchronous method of counseling.
Q 14: To motivate learner for self-learning is one of the objective of counseling.
Q 15: Counselor should not be genuine for the learner’s difficulties about the course, curriculum, and evaluation.
Q 16: Counselor mostly has to deal with learners’ feelings and generally have to work on an affective level.
Q 17: During Counseling, learner should talk more with the counselor and among the learners to solve their difficulties.
Q 18: Discussion on the topics shall be avoided during counseling.
Q 19: Use of humor during the counseling can help the learners to regain.
Q 20: Counselor shall have good communication, listening and monitoring skill for counseling.
Fig 6 (b): Responses of counselor
Table 3 (c)
Responses of Counselor
Q 21: As per the course content, counselor shall decide strategy for counseling.
Q 22: Counselor shall not use various methods for counseling.
Q 23: Most of the time distant learners are adult and have previous experience.
Q 24: During face-to-face counseling learner gets direct and clear knowledge from the counselor.
Q 25: Learner gets psychological and emotional support during face-to-face counseling.
Q 26: During face-to-face counseling, interaction and learning environment motivates the learner.
Q 27: Group learning strategy and model demonstration enhances learning of the learner.
Q 28: Computerized LCD Presentation saves lot of time and energy of counselor and learners.
Q 29: During counseling session, presentation by each group of learner builds confidence and knowledge of the learners.
Q 30: Learners should not ask questions during face-to-face counseling.
Fig 6 (c): Responses of counselor
From these Tables and Figures, it is clear that. on average. more than 95% of the counselors have positive opinions about the counseling in ODES. They could get through knowledge about ODES and its philosophy and the difference between Distance Education and Open Learning. They understand learning needs of heterogeneous group of learner. Their ideas and concepts about how to conduct counseling better are clear. They could recognize the difference between teaching and counseling. They were aware about different skills and methods required for counseling.
From the selected sample of counselor’s feedback analysis, it was concluded that the training imparted through ‘Generic Module on Counseling’ was effective. Counselors could receive knowledge and skills about counseling.
Though counselors were highly qualified and experienced in Engineering discipline, they were aware of only a few things about ODES. They could understand concepts and ideas about ODES and how to conduct counseling with various skills and methods very well when exposed to this training.
Counselors suggested conducting this type of training programmes regularly for the counselors and also for students.
Scope and Limitations of the Study
This research is focused only on the counselors of B. Tech. in Electronics and Mechanical Engineering Programmes of YCMOU.
Training is imparted only through multimedia module developed by the researcher.
However. this study is beneficial to almost all Open and Distance Learning Institutes and Universities in India. The inferences of this research may greatly enhance and bring better quality counseling with better methods to enhance learning.
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Sunanda More has been a Lecturer for the past 15 years in the Selection Grade in the School of Science and Technology at Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Nashik, MS, India.
She graduated in Electronics Engineering, completed a M.Sc. in Electronics Communication, and is now in a doctoral program. Her area of interest is development and design of e-learning material and web-based management.
Email: email@example.com Web URL: www.ycmou.com/cms/ast
Dr. Sanjivani Mahale has been a Lecturer for the past 10 years in a Senior Grade in the School of Education at Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Nashik, MS, India.
She did post graduate studies in Chemistry, thereafter M.Ed. and doctoral work in Education. Her area of interest is development and design of print material for the students of education.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web URL: www.ycmou.com/cms/edu