Distance Education (DE), a novel trend in the realm of higher education emerged almost half a century ago with a focus to facilitate learning for those who were geographically distant. Over the years, rapid changes have taken place in the practice of DE, mainly driven by advancements in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Incorporation of ICT led to the advanced form of DE known as e-Learning which not only covers content and instructional methods delivered via CD-ROM, the Internet or an Intranet, audio and videotape, satellite broadcast on TV but also interactive online learning using web 2.0 tools.
Therefore, e-Learning as an offshoot of Distance Education aims at providing unequivocal quality education to students who are unable to avail traditional education. The evolution of e-Learning throughout the world has been phenomenal, particularly during the last two decades.
With reference to e-Learning in Pakistan, Virtual University of Pakistan (VUP) holds a leadership position, being the pioneer of technology-based education with the objective of providing quality distance education to all. The University has not only introduced a new trend in education but also opened up new avenues both for educators and learners. The course material has been made freely available through broadcast television, DVDs and YouTube, which is extensively used by students and faculty members alike from other universities, both formally and informally.
In order to keep pace with the ever changing trends in ICT, VUP has always realized the need of a platform where innovative developments in e-Learning can be exchanged and discussed by all stakeholders. e-Learning and Distance Education Conference (ELDEC) is the practical realization of this need. VUP has already organized two Conferences in this regard and plans to host the third e-Learning and Distance Education Conference (3rd ELDEC) with the theme "e-Learning and Distance Education: Evolution, Challenges & Solutions". The Conference will provide a useful forum for participants to share their experiences under this theme and will provide opportunities for networking that may lead to extended collaboration in Distance Education and e-Learning among individuals and institutions.
The objectives of the Conference are as under:
- To provide a platform to all stakeholders to have a dialogue on the past, present and future of e-Learning and Distance Education (EL&DE)
- To share knowledge of the existing and emerging models for EL&DE; create awareness of EL&DE and its dynamic role in education
- To discuss the potential of EL&DE in socio-economic development
- To identify the challenges faced by EL&DE systems and find out their solutions
- To have a dialogue on the quality assurance mechanism for EL&DE and share success stories created due to EL&DE
- To discuss the future directions, trends and policies of technology assisted distance learning