Open Schooling is a concept that was derived from the idea of making Education accessible to all that first came up two centuries ago. The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) defines it as the physical separation of the school-level learner from his/her teacher, and the use of unconventional teaching methodologies along with the support of the information and communications technologies (ICTs) which helps to bridge the separation and provide the necessary education and training”. In India, the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) is the board of open school education. The exams are usually conducted from March to April with NIOS Hall Ticket issued by February every year. What started as a project, with some in-built flexibilities, of the CBSE (Central Bureau of Secondary Education) in 1979 has now grown into a full-fledged educational board catering to the open school system in the country.

What is NIOS ODES?

The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) On-Demand Exam System (ODES) is one of the special features offered by the NIOS. This concept is such that the assessment takes place when the individual learners consider themselves to be ready to take it using the help of ICT (Information & Communications Technology). This system creates a separate dimension of openness in the whole structure of Open Schooling because, in such a system, the degree of performance is learner controlled and the examination is self-paced.

Students can download NIOS Hall Ticket when available after registering for the exam at the website with dates as per their choice. The registration for NIOS on-demand exams are held throughout the academic year. The exams are conducted in all the months except the months where public exams are conducted namely April, May, October, and November. Results are declared in the first week of June or in the second week of December as per the exam dates. Students can check their NIOS Result online.

Where Should The Focus Be?

According to recent studies, there are three special theme areas that are of fundamental concern to the authorities of the board and the government. These three areas are supposed to have the greatest influence on the success and acceptance of any open school institution. Those themes include:

  • The role of the decision-makers in developing necessary policies that will help in promoting the open schools.
  • Addressing the exploitation of technology so as to maximize its contribution to the accessibility, quality, and cost-effectiveness of open schooling systems.
  • The critical areas and key aspects of the funding of open schooling in which the senior stakeholders need to be cognizant of to best support their current or future investment in open schools.

Policy for Open Schooling

For enabling policy for open schooling to be successful and accepted by everybody within and outside the open school systems, the government must involve itself in developing the policies and guidelines surrounding the open schools for reasons that may be less significant than in the entrenched traditional schooling sector. These reasons may include:

  • Give a rigid stature and credibility to the educational model being followed, the innovative approaches of which are too easily sidelined by most stakeholders in the field of education.
  • Provide stability and protection from the vagaries of government and interinstitutional politics
  • Ensure that key government decision-makers are informed through policy about the intrinsic differences between open schooling and conventional schooling and how these can affect key performance indicators and measured outputs.

What Role ICT Can Play?

Before going on to discussing the different nature of issues to be addressed when developing an ICT infrastructure for open schooling, the greater emphasis should be on the importance of understanding some relevant aspects:

  • Who the OS institution exists to serve?
  • The desired outcomes
  • How flexible or open a model is being targeted
  • The ICT experiences of other public sector organizations and service providers in the region.

It should be noted that the key decisions about ICT must not be formulated within a closed structure. Rather, they should involve all the institutional stakeholders, the government, and other relevant people. This will also help in enabling the proper installation and continuous support of a flexible infrastructure.

As in any innovation, the idea of the system of open schooling has run its course. It needs revolutionary changes in the structure from the past. Giving importance to these key areas can help Open School education and the NIOS a much-needed refresh and relevance in today’s times. Incorporating ICT will also go a long way in improving the NIOS Results of the students.

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