The expanding presence of distance learning in Asia

The Internet has reshaped the educational landscape in Kuala Lumpur, the Maldives and other Asian nations, writes Liz Gooch in a New York Times article titled "Online Degrees Come of Age in Asia." The shift towards distance learning means that students in far-flung island nations or other countries without plentiful access to campus-based colleges and universities can log on to pursue their studies. Of the online education format, Wong Tat Meng, the president of the Asian Association of Open Universities, said, "It has really taken the 'distance' out of distance education." Gooch adds that while universities around the world have taken up e-learning as an option for students, the format is not a panacea; poor Internet service is a problem in many rural areas in Asia, while online universities have to build a credible reputation among campus-based institutions. Still, online education continues to grow in Asia, such as on the island of Borneo, where 5,000 students study in a hybrid blend of online and campus-based courses. G. Dhanarajan, honorary director of the Institute for Research and Innovation at Wawasan Open University, sums up the balance, saying, "I think institutions have big dreams, but we also need to ground those dreams on the kinds of infrastructure that's available."

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