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Editor’s Note
: Najib Kofahi compares distance learning for the software industry in Saudi Arabia with those of three developing countries. He explains the funding of distance learning programs and how policies and priorities are adapted to achieve the economic benefits in a rapidly changing world. He also shows factors that are different for small or economically limited countries. Collaborative relationships of the distance learning program with university faculty and administration, industries that hire its graduates, and government funding agencies, are crucial to the program’s success. In addition to analysis of distance learning from a different perspective, this paper shares valuable insights and data.

Distance Learning: Major Issues and Challenges

Najib A. Kofahi and
Nowduri Srinivas


This paper presents the state of the art of distance learning, and its impact on the booming software industrial growth. Tips on the prominent issues, major initiatives and the required actions behind the design of a distance learning system are provided. The impact of distance learning on the booming software industrial growth is also highlighted. The major factors that enable the third world countries to adopt an effective distance-learning paradigm are mentioned. The paper includes a brief case study of distance learning systems in three developed nations along with their comparative study upon certain prominent issues.

Keywords: Academic and Industry Relation; Asynchronous Instruction; Classroom Learning; Distance Education; Distance learning system; Distance Learning technology; Educational Delivery Systems; Evolution of DL; DL Paradigm; DL and Software Industrial; On-Line Laboratories; Process Improvement;  Simulation; Software Development Organization; Synchronous Instruction.


The demand for education is growing in both academic and industrial scenarios. Even as student numbers continue to grow, there is pressure to reduce overall cost. There is also demand for flexibility to incorporate lifelong learning into day-to-day life. These factors, combined with availability of powerful communication tools and computer systems, has fostered investigation and resulted in implementation of new teaching and learning methods.

Distance learning is the new rage in the world of education. Valuable as it is, distance learning is still nothing more than a new use of familiar machine. And machines, no matter how good, do not run themselves. People run machines.

The very idea behind distance learning (DL) is to deliver education that does not constrain the students to be physically present in the same location as the instructor. This way of continuous education and professional preparedness in various applied studies enables the student community to play a constructive role in their respective communities. Thus the most important part of DL is not the system, it is the people who will be learning from that system. Nowadays, initiation and development of public oriented models of DL education has become essential for the exceptional and unexpected future conditions of the respective nation. Indeed DL education is effectively adopted worldwide in countries as diverse in political and social systems as Australia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Britain, Thailand, China, Canada, India, Holland, Japan and the common wealth independent countries. This form of education trains the students in self-learning mechanisms while enhancing their intellectual and thinking abilities. Thus DL is gaining in popularity due to two inbuilt tools, ‘Self-motivation’ and ‘Self-discipline’. Self-motivation is one’s inner spirit; the self-drive that makes you capable of doing what ever you put your mind to do.

In the early days, DL is used to mean correspondence study through post and taking the exams at several remote places. In these days, audio, video and computer technologies became more common delivery modes. The term DL and distance education (DE) is often interchangeable. Institutions and instructors control educational delivery while the students are responsible for learning. One can easily say that DL is a result of DE [1]. To facilitate the flexibility of student-teacher interaction during the course of learning created the need for DL systems (DLSs).

The major practical issues that influence DLS can be classified as following:

  1. Separation of teacher and learner for the majority of each instructional process

  2. Use of educational media to unite teacher and learner and carry course contents

  3. Provision of two-way communication between teacher, tutor or educational agency and the learner.

We often come across synchronous and asynchronous as two classifications of educational delivery systems. Synchronous instruction requires the simultaneous participation of students and instructors, asynchronous implies participation at different times.

The advantage with the synchronous instruction primarily lies in its interaction with “real time”, with delivery via interactive TV, computer conferencing, IRC, audio graphics, and MOO.

Since asynchronous instruction does not require the simultaneous participation of all students and instructors, students need not to be gathered together in the same location or at the same time. This gives the flexibility to the students in choosing the instructional time frame and gathering their learning materials according to their schedules.

Overall, asynchronous instruction is more efficient then synchronous instructions in the following ways:

  1. Telecommunication: Facilities such as e-mail are helpful in the urban Development.

  2. Delivery modes: Delivery modes such as e-mail, audiocassette, and videotape courses have more human appeal.

  3. Flexibility: Students decide their instructional time and schedule for receiving their learning materials.

  4. Parallel interaction: Students respond independently, as when using e-mail.

This paper is organized as follows: The next section details the idea behind DL and its state of art as of today. Next, we provide the background literature about DL. The next two Sections explain the impact of DL on the booming software industrial growth, especially with reference to third world countries. This is followed by Communication Aspects of DL, case studies from three different institutions where DLS are currently in use, followed by our conclusions.

Evolution and Background of DL

In the past, several authors have expressed the ways and means of designing distance learning systems (DLSs), which has a vital role in the socio and economical status of the country. Here we list out the sample piece of the seminal work in this direction.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s: The television production technology gained its momentum and was largely confined to studio and live broadcasts [7]. In such systems the master teacher used to conduct widely broadcast classes. The main uncomforted observation here is to witness a good teacher being an expert of a subject performing badly before television cameras. In those days the cost associated with local production used to be at $165 per 15-minute program [7].

In the late 1960s and early 1970s: The emphasis moved towards a professionally designed television series introducing new subject matters (that was not being currently taught) to the students. This was an important contribution to the classroom curricula.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s: The Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB) funded television courses for national delivery of educational programs by Adult Learning Services (ALS). Educational programming was of general awareness rather than for course credit or degree. ALS now coordinates hundreds of public television stations and thousands of colleges to deliver telecourses. This has gained its popularity by spanning several courses and encouraging the student world to bend upon the DLSs. Very recently, CPB has extended its vision to satellite broadcasting of programs designed to be graduate and undergraduate courses.

In the late 1980s and in the middle 1990s, the technology was extended to offer complete online degree programs developed by community colleges and universities. For example, Politecnico di Milano, a technical university of Milano, Italy [1]; the university of Poland [21]; and Indiana [22] [23] are three best-suited examples in this regard. This era has also witnessed the intuition behind world-wide-web (WWW). Universities started offering several online courses using WebCT. The current university of the authors is offering one of its core courses, namely ICS 202 Data Structures with Java, online.

In the late 1990s and in the early millennium, DLS known as virtual universities gained widespread acceptance and accreditation. The main way of DLS has become online, with help of virtual reality [6] [8]. This has drastically reduced the very need of using a television, where the cost estimated for the high quality instructional television program exceeds $5,000 per minute.

Distance Learning: An Elegant Look

Distance learning technologies are expanding at an extremely rapid rate. Quite often instructional designers and curriculum developers have enamored of the latest technologies without dealing with the underlying issues of learner characteristics and their needs. These issues include: the influence of media upon the instructional process, equity of access to interactive delivery systems, the new roles of teacher, site facilitator and student role in the distance learning process [2].

The earliest form of DL took place through correspondence courses in Europe. This was the accepted norm until the middle of this century, when instructional radio and television became popular. Now one finds the current interactive technologies were evolved from print and instructional television.

In those days, television production technology was mainly limited to studios and live broadcasts, where master teachers conducted widely broadcast classes.

During 1970s the emphasis turned from bringing master teachers into the classrooms to taking children out of the classroom into the outside world.

In order to help teachers, administrators, site facilitators and students understand distance education we present in the next subsections several prominent issues concerning DL; Major Initiatives and the required recommendations for DLSs; and the Required Actions for DLS Improvement.

Prominent Issues in DL

The following are few seminal issues concerning the very idea of DL in any institution.

a)      What is different about teaching at a distance?

The main criteria of DL lie in improving the individual ideas with a broad range of thinking capabilities. This will also helps in the development of thought provoking view, without much interference of human-to-human interaction. DL will mainly make use of certain advanced teaching materials, which designed based on psychological theory of human cognition. DL facilitates an effective interaction/communication between students and teachers at their convenient time.

b)      What are the reasons for teaching at a distance?

There are many factors that come under the justification to this question, including:

1)    Lack of proper transportation with ease.

2)    Lack of availability of educated teachers and qualified personnel, especially in remote areas.

3)    Socio-economic conditions of the remote people compiled to use DLS.

b)      What are the different ways to improve planning and organization of DLS?

1)    By an appropriate motivation and bend up of the mind.

2)    By having a foresight and long term view towards designing an educated society.

3)    By establishing a close link between industrial work force and academic world.

4)    By improving the socio and economic changes within and around society.

5)    By looking at the society at different levels, such as individual, group, organizational, country, and global level.

c)      What are the different ways to meet student needs?

1)    By establishing proper, continuous person-to-person meetings on a regular basis.

2)    By contacting through a media such as Television, Telephone, and Web

3)    By establishing a common ground for meeting at different time intervals, such as weekly or bi-weekly.

4)    By proper preparation of the course materials such as solution sets/manuals.

5)    By dispatching the needed documents in time by post/courier/email

6)    By keeping regular (frequent) contact classes based on the category of the students, such as senior or junior or freshman.

d)      What are the guidelines on teaching skills?

Here we provide few guidelines on the art of teaching skills.

1)    A through preparation of handouts.

2)    Reviewing the material twice before taking up the class.

3)    Stressing more towards the practical and application relevancies.

4)    Underlying the mathematical logic or reasoning (if any)

e)      What are the different methods for improving interaction and feedback?

1)    By proving a free hand to the students

2)    By mixing audio-video in corporate training.

3)    By establishing independent learning materials through the use of interactive communication technologies and teacher mediation [8].

Once we are sure of these prominent issues of DL, we are obligated to look for certain initiatives and needed actions.

Major Initiatives and the required recommendations for DLSs

We list four challenging initiatives and the set of recommendations for each of them for their proper implementation.

a.       How do we inject DL into the mainstream of teaching and learning?

The following are few recommendations to help to achieve this initiative:

1)      Engage the entire university faculty to participate and act as part and parcel of university DLS. The DLS will be more effectively operable only with the cooperation and support from all staff members of the university. The entire faculty in this way is integral towards a specific agenda. This will basically serve the purpose from three perspectives, viz., to fix the students motivation, to retain the talented faculty and to improve the university recognition.

Fixing the student’s motivation is more concerned with the building an educated society. There is no general process for retaining the talented faculty, but this way of making them as active participants in the university DLS, will improve their economic and academic status.

University recognition (especially with certain specific directed programs) is more concerned with the attracting increased number of students to participate in DLS, apart from attracting certain distinguished faculty from around the world.

To be precise, this is one of the possible ways of pushing the DL into the main stream of education.

1.    Make the university management support as wide as possible.

The management is vital for any institution’s inter or intra operability. Especially in design of DLS, we need the management support to be as wide as possible due to the following reasons:

  • Strategic decision making at several levels or institutions, such as introducing new courses/programs

  • Certain policies and procedures can be fixed easily. For example, relaxing certain pre requisites, waving of tuition fee for certain low economic group students.

  • Smooth maintenance of the DLS process, concerning with its cost and human effort.

2.    Special attention towards the course (or programs) that have a rich job market.

In this highly competitive world, more stress is vital towards specific courses and programs such as computer science, due to the rich job market for leading edge technology.

This is important for producing students to support immediate societal needs and have a direct impact on the Nations’ socio-economic conditions [16].

3.    Take a noble look towards the far-reaching academic courses.

Nowadays, certain academic domains such as information technology, have a direct and immediate impact on the society’s economic status. These courses are primarily dependent on the task of knowledge processing, than on manufacturing new products.

Every academic institute developing DLS should be prepared to meet this new challenging task. One general hurdle to meet this seminal task is non-availability of dedicated faculty.

This is mainly to improve the university economy based on the knowledge processing – a vital component of the modern era.

4.    Establish an attractive faculty/quality improvement programs for the university staff.

This ensures the mental stability of the teaching staff towards their caliber and capabilities.

What steps are vital for designing, implementing and maintaining
a robust structure to support DLS?

The following are few recommendations to assist in achieving this target:

1.    Improve the organizational (design), financial (productivity) and the physical structure(architecture) of the DLSs:

This is basically vital for monitoring and controlling the number of remote stations of the DLS. This should be flexible to accommodate the increasing trend of the student population.

2.    Provide high quality student service:

This is a challenging issue in most of the DLSs, where orientation is bending more towards the student’s free access to attract quality student community.

3.    Broaden the faculty reward system:

The very encouragement/enthusiasm for any faculty arises primarily from students. Then secondly it also comes from the management support [18] [19]. Thus we strongly feel that one should broaden the faculty rewarding system from two different perspectives:

First, it is a well-known fact that teaching is an art, which can be acquired out of experience, rather than merely with qualifications. Change the reward system to help retain talented teachers and continue their teaching.

Secondly it can also have an impact (encouragement) on the faculty for possible innovative thoughts that leads both faculty and students to the new seminal track, with the leading edge technology base, in this computerized world [19]. This can be clearly witnessed through the student project reports during their final semester of the course.

As per the cognitive psychology, at times this can also have an indirect impact on the amount of knowledge transfer mutually between the teacher and student. This will improve the effective teaching aspects of the faculty.

How to minimize the gap (if any) between the DL and the classroom learning?

The following are few recommendations, which give aid to achieve this target.

  1. In the DL, one should increase the frequency of the contact hours [3].

  2. One should also decrease the number of examinations and encourage more take home assignments during the course of DL.

  3. In a regular classroom teaching, one is encouraged to explain the concepts with real world examples, whereas in DL it is worth explaining the examples prior to the concepts. This is especially with a view to fix the student motivation and encourage for the higher studies.

  4. In a regular classroom scene, the student is free to meet the teacher during the non-office hours as well, based on a prior appointment from the teacher. In DLS one can provide this facility by connectivity to the faculty cell phones for his appointment. The DLS student is encouraged more towards self-dependency. This will encourage self-motivation/confidence within the student community.

How to establish on-line Laboratories through simulation?

Certain laboratories do exist on line for the purpose of its immediate access. For example, the Anderson Laboratory at University of Illinois, USA [20], CLEAR (center for learning, evaluation and assistant research) of University of Missouri, Columbia [22] and Orchid laboratory at Cornel University [6] offers certain technical lab assistance and consultation on line. The steps they used to establish on-line library include:

  1. Use of expert systems technology

  2. Electro chemical analysis and bonding techniques

  3. Nuclear fusion aspects as an application to biomedical signal processing.

The Required Actions for DLS Improvement

Here we propose a set of needed actions for betterment of DLS. These actions also, very much essential for implementing the above proposed initiatives and recommendations.

a)  The university should involve the cross section of the core faculty for the improvement of the DLS, especially the technology-mediated courses [8].

b)  For the purpose of monitoring the student progress, there should be some advisers available on campus.

c)  There should be a strong Web infrastructure, essential for supporting course development and delivery; so as to cope up with competitive Web or Network based education.

d)  The university management support or assistance (monitory and technical) should be on a continuous basis for maintaining and improving the DLS

e)  In order to establish the best DL practices, we should look at new-technology, research findings, and assessment tools that support dynamic leading edge technology. This is particularly useful for the under developed countries, to rise and compete with the socio economic changes. In this connection, Internet and intranet are two useful tools coupled with the object oriented technology act as a part and parcel of any DLS.

f)   There should be a close link between the DLS and the university information technology services to develop a better infrastructure and support services.

g)  One should create a simulated science laboratory for conducting certain necessary online experiments [5]. This is very much recommended for the design and deliver of certain laboratory courses.

h)  One should promote inter campus sharing of resources to treat the DL students on par with the regular classroom students. This makes it easier for the DL reader to follow the supplied course material, which can be at different levels such as inter college or inter university or inter continental.

i)   Establish a public relation office to estimate market trends, track potential students with comprehensive information regarding the university DLS.

j)   Arrange needed financial support for new curriculum development and on going course support.

The Impact of DL on the Software Industrial Growth

The very idea of DL is mostly limited to the learning aspects of those who live in the remote areas, who do not have a good transportation mode. This opens the question: How do we transition remote students to the job market in order to support software industrial growth?

There is an acute need to study the impact of DL learning on the booming software industrial growth [13][1]. In the following sub sections we throw some light in this direction.

The role of Academic and Industry relations

This vital characteristic is encouraged by most of the developing Nations around the world. This mutual relationship leads the Nation to the leading edge technology. Most industrial design and development strategies should be supported (directly/indirectly) with collaboration between academicians and their industrial counterparts.

The art of DL can now be more aptly applied to the booming software development organizations (SDO), in terms of supporting the latest information through teleconferencing or television or web. This will eliminate the very presence of the SDO staff such as, developers, project managers, and team leaders [11] [12]. This should also provide flexibility for the above staff in terms of timing/venue/subjective material. This virtually requires the SDO to configure their training units towards improving their product development as well as process improvement. This looks more economical to the SDO and stands as a source of income to the academic institutions. This will also improve the productivity and quality of the software products.

The Various ways of extending the DL paradigm to the SDO

In view of maintaining the quality and reliability of the software products, the ways of extending the DL paradigm to the SDO should be of three fold:

(1) Focus towards product development.

This relates to quality consciousness and can be improved with the help of DLS as follows:

(a)   More views towards the coding standards and design techniques as a part of DLS course material.

(b)   Communication aspects of the cognitive psychology should be coupled with the team building strategies (as a part of the DLS design course) to form a basis for the reliable/quality software production.

(2) More focus towards DLS process improvement.

This is more concerned towards minimizing the software engineering life cycle time [17]. Thus the process assigned for the DLS should take into its account the various design or coding or testing aspects of a software engineering process (SEP) with the motivation as described below:

(a)  Any improvement in the design process of DLS should have a positive impact on certain pertinent aspects of a SEP. This can be achieved through the usage of certain communication aspects of DLS. This will also ensure the creation of software reusable modules. This is mainly possible due to the commonality of human-to human interaction in both (DLS as well as SEP) cases.

(b)  Minimization of software maintenance cost during its development in a SDO: In order to have and retain DLS, institutions need certain special emphasis/care about the working aspects of a DLS, so is the students of DL. In this way the student of a DLS is more promising candidates to the SDO. Moreover the DLS process invariably involves the various ways of initializing, designing and maintaining a DLS. Thereby this knowledge about the process of DLS is an added advantage and should be consistent with the SEP for its possible improvement in SDO.

(3) Focus towards faculty improvement

DLSs are basically connecting the people in remote areas (X), where the DLS access is available with the developed cities (Y) where the DLS are statically located, such as a university or a higher learning institute. Where as the regular classroom teaching is connecting the people in Y to the job market or SDO located at some other place (Z). Thus one can easily conclude that the DLS is indirectly connecting the people of X to Z.

In this connection, it is clear that faculty at DLS is dealing more with human-to-human interaction, rather than human to machine interaction. One can confidently observe this vital fact even within the SDO. Thus faculty at DLS can improve the faculty at SDO in several ways including teamwork building, conducting peer review, and configuration management [14] [15].

DL programs by nature will also help improving the academic qualifications of the faculty at SDO. This will intern fix the bottleneck issue of retaining the talented personnel at SDO. This can only be achieved by having a direct link between the faculty of DLS and SDO on certain selected topics of SDO interest. This typically consists of courses such as, password management, code compression techniques and the plausible methods/techniques of designing reusable design/code modules.

In this way, DL program can witness the integration of research and education that results in mutual benefit (SDO as well as University where DLSs are located). This type of DL also convey to us various types of curricula settings which include information technology, software engineering, multimedia technology, networking; vital for any software industrial growth.

Impact of DL on the third world countries

The importance and significance of DL is yet to reach its maximum momentum in the third world countries due to several reasons. There are few countries adopting the DL systems on a trail basis, such as Uganda, Tanzania and Peru. This is mainly due to the slow progress in their literacy rate so that DL systems are underrated.

Here we list out few shortfall factors for the third world countries to utilize DL to its maximum extent.

Infrastructure: The  infrastructure of the country plays a vital role for DL in several ways such as establishment of communication channels, political and economic constraints, and the dynamic nature of the technological evolution of terminals (audio-visual systems and computers) and telecommunication systems (switching and transmission)

Organizational: The organizational factors such as inter (intra) group coordination and communication, adequate management support, organizations of course material, student-teacher interaction mode, availability of local tutor, and financial and economic deficits (if any), all contribute to a lot to the quality and reliability of a DLS.

Human factor: This is more towards the psychological theory of human cognition. The main dominating factor in this regard is fixing the motivation either for a software engineer in SDO or to a student in a DLS.

The following are few observed human factors that are to be re-examined in detail. People’s awareness about the leading edge technology, competitive trend of the job market, discrimination between local and remote students, the student needs and their social status, teacher’s willingness towards on-campus/off-campus teaching, student-teacher interaction requirements for query clarifications and the characteristics of the course to be taught.

Economical factor: The prominent role of the government and its external support such as small/big business establishments contribute to the National economic growth. Thereby the DLS is proportional to the economic growth of the country. The main resource for DL in the third world countries lies in fixing their motivation towards creating an educated society.

Communication Aspects of DL

DL technology is trying to replace the traditional classroom instruction with a more sophisticated view to provide a bridge for remote learners who might not otherwise be able to attend a normal classroom program [2]. Several hurdles such as transportation limitations, children issues, and work schedules, are reasons why a distance learner cannot attend a classroom program. Supporting these students through DL programs may involve tradeoffs and compromise in aspects such as, communication, teaching equipments, preparation of course materials, etc.

The art of communication in the DL paradigm depends on the following factors:

Instructor to the student(s)

In DL the students normally meet the instructor on a weekly basis in person (or by phone), the communication between the instructor and teacher must concentrate more on the substance rather than style. This is normally one –to-many mapping. Here we provide five point formula for effective communication; stifle anger, talk brief notes, withhold judgment, listen to main ideas, and react to the message.

Student(s) to the instructor

In DL students are allowed to study anywhere, anytime, and at any place they want. Due to this flexibility the communication channels from the student to the instructor should be strategic and point focused. This is many-to-one mapping.

There are several factors that effect this type of communication including, shyness of the student, ignorance level of the student, fearfulness towards the instructor, nervousness of communication via speakerphone, etc. To some extent, few of these factors can be nullified due to emergence of certain modern tools such as Internet communication.

Effect of these two ways of communication on their individual development

In a DL setting, instructors are afforded the opportunity to uncover new methods of reacting students, while students are given a chance to improve their literacy and bridge the digital divide.

Once or twice in a year, (call it Contact Classes of the DL program) students come together to attend conferences and seasonal parties, exchange their views and email addresses, share food, and have a more traditional classroom experience [10][11][2]. This is intended to clear student-teacher communication gaps (if any) during the period of online degree program.

We propose the following factors for an effective DL communication to simulate the traditional classroom communication with in DLS:

1.    The quality of the course material. This is more subjective, but should not be like a traditionally published textbook. This should contain more examples and less theoretical stress. In addition to mentioning the overall goals of the book, each chapter should have a clear indication of its objective(s) and its connection to preceding/succeeding chapters.

2.    The quality of the instructor. Self motivated, truly devoted to teaching, allowing the student to talk first.

3.    The quality of the students. Intelligent questioning, motivation towards higher studies, analysis before each experiment, individual thinking capability.

4.    The quality and frequency of the interaction (via Internet, TV, phone). This varies from program to program; more frequent meeting with undergraduate students over graduate students is a positive sign for a DL program.

5.    The quality of Curricula preparations, assignments and solutions. Preparation of separate and restricted curricula/assignments in time and their availability over the web to simulate a DL program with a traditional classroom program. The type of examinations should be more relaxed (when compared to regular classroom students) for the DL program candidates. In DL program more weight should be given to take home tests and assignments, unlike the regular classroom student program.

Case Studies

In this section we focus on certain seminal institutions, where DLS are currently in use substantially, and throw some light on certain know–how aspects of their DLS.

Experience of DLS at the Technical University of Milano, Italy

This is a real-time interactive distance teaching activity at Politecnico di Milano, a technical university of Milano, Italy. It was started in 1995 and designed for excellence in critical education and research [1]. This DLS is designed based on two main faculties viz., Engineering and Architectural with about 30,000 and 15,000 students respectively.

The DLS is composed of mainly three parts viz., a wide screen codec, student camera-microphone tracker, and an improved eye-to-eye visual communication set up. This reflects two types of upgraded designs of the system’s philosophy [1]. Different types of upgraded designs of distance teaching classrooms are proposed and analyzed.

The main characteristics of this system include:

  1. Flexibility in the university education.

  2. Uses a mechanism known as tele-presence classroom
    facility, having some positive and negative advantages.

  3. Quality of learning improved based on pedagogical and
    cultural analysis of DL

The General Vision of DLS at Indiana University at USA

The degree or certification obtained from the DL course of this university is recognized on par with the regular university courses. The syllabi, course material and examinations are conducted by the regular university faculty [22] [23]. This fact revels and encourages the people living in remote areas, for better future prospective while enrolling.

This DLS is primarily serving the courses for form three perspectives viz., for general studies, learning partnerships, adult education and on-site noncredit courses.

Motivation of DLS at Warsaw University of Technology, Poland

Here the university DLS capable of performing certain things easily such as adjustments to curricula and other components of the system [21]. It reflects the following seminal points in its consideration: Advances in science and technology, trends on labor market, and update the system to international standards.

It’s primarily focus is on 12 areas of concentration, leaving the option for its possible future updating. The main system characteristics include flexibility and adaptability in improving the quality.

Comparative study

Here we compare the following five aspects of DLS witnessed in the above three seminal institutions.

  1. System Philosophy

  2. System Architecture

  3. System Evaluation

  4. Programs/types courses offered

  5. Number of students enrollment

We list these seminal points in the Table below.

Table: Comparative study among the several DLS

Nature of Functionality

The Technical University of Milano, Italy

Indiana University USA

Warsaw University of Technology, Poland

1. System Philosophy

Easily adoptable to the students with easy student/teacher interaction

Concern more towards establishing higher education and interaction with the software industry

Concern more towards engineering education with different curricula flexibility

2. System Architecture

Simulate the classroom scenario based on intercampus network

Integrate distributed education into mainstream of teaching with a robust design structure.


3. System Evaluation

Reduces teacher-student interaction as little as possible.

More of faculty driven

Comprehensive and flexible framework

4. Programs/Courses currently offered.

Lessons, seminars and tutoring along with graduates and below

Graduates and under graduates

Engineering education courses

5. Number of faculty and participants involved

Several thousands of students per faculty

Fixed number of students per faculty

Quality conscious with flexibility and adoptability


We outline the major issues and challenges in DLS. We conclude that the DL strategies should promote the industrialists to the higher levels of abstraction, with the newly emerging technologies.

We suggest certain communication as well as challenging issues for the development of effective DLS. We conclude that this way of improving the DLS will serve the following needs:

1.  Improvement to the academia-industry mapping.

2.  Help retaining the talented people in the industry.

3.  Attracting the remote sector people to the industrial job market, on par with the people residing in the cities/towns.

4.  Help developing an educated/cultural society with in the Nation.

There are a few exceptional situations, in certain places, where DL courses are still under-valued when compared to the regular university courses, due to the fact that they might be lacking certain practical skills/training.

We conclude that the degree or certification obtained from DL system is well recognized by the industrial world.

There is still wider scope for the work in this direction, including establishing the DL Universities (DLU) to enhance the quality and reliability of the industrial products. This DLS also help in achieving the higher levels of the organization, such as ISO9002, SEI CMM Level 5.



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About the Authors

Najib Abdel Karim Kofahi is an Associate Professor of Computer Science. He received his Ph.D. from University of Missouri-Rolla in 1987. He is a faculty member in the department of Computer Sciences at Yarmouk University – Jordan since 1987. He is on sabbatical leave from Yarmouk University for the academic year 2003-2004 and working as a visiting associate professor at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM). He worked extensively in computer science curriculum development at Yarmouk University since his appointment and at Philadelphia University-Jordan in the academic year 1993-1994 while he worked as the Chairman of Science Department, at Philadelphia University, 1993/1994 while on sabbatical leave from Yarmouk University. He worked as Chairman of the Computer Science Department at Yarmouk University in the years 1990 -1992. Currently he is leading an online course development team to develop online course material for Algorithms course at KFUPM. He has several journal and conference research publications.

Contact Najib at

Nowduri Srinivas is currently working as an associate professor in department of Computer Science and Engineering at Birla Institute of Technology International Center.  Dr. Srinivas main area of research primarily includes artificial intelligence and software engineering. He has published several papers in the area of ‘artificial intelligence’ (in particular to uncertainty handling) and ‘software engineering’ (in particular to software engineering process). Dr. Srinivas has given presentations at several international conferences and workshops. Dr. Srinivas has reviewed papers for IEEE transactions on software engineering. Dr. Srinivas is presently investigating the various ways of measuring and capturing uncertainty that arise in software engineering life cycle, while improving the engineering process.

Contact Nowduri at

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