In order to reach out to the distance learners at their doorsteps through technology, IGNOU has introduced an innovative scheme of Web Enabled Academic Support (WEAS) to provide services including pre-entry, admission, programme induction, study material distribution, supplementary study materials, learning, and counseling, assignments, pre-examination and examination, etc. to the learners at their own place, pace and time. Initially, the scheme was introduced for three programmes, i.e. Post Graduate Certificate in Agriculture Policy (PGCAP), Post Graduate Diploma in Sustainability Science (PGDSS) and Post Graduate in Pharmaceutical Sales Management (PGDPSM) on a pilot basis and the same was launched on the Foundation Day of the University last year in November.

The innovative features of WEAS scheme includes Virtual Learning by bringing distance learners and teachers on a single platform, enabling self-paced learning irrespective of time and distance separation; Knowledge Management through 24 × 7 availability and access to the platform with information, notification for important events/dates, digital format of course material, learning resources, a discussion forum for peer-to-peer learning and quizzes; and Low-IT Deployment Overheads as it is simple, hassle free and low maintenance ensures faster on-boarding and increases efficiency.

Now, this scheme is being extended to various other progrmmes of the University. In order to empower the faculty to design, develop and implement this scheme to other programmes, the National Centre for Innovation in Distance Education (NCIDE) is regularly organizing Faculty Development Programmes also in phased manner. Presently also, such a Faculty Development Programme is being conducted for seven-days from January 8-10, 2020 which aims at developing WEAS portal for 16 more programmes.

As this scheme of WEAS may be very effective and useful for such learners without requiring any cost, it is aimed at providing such technological additional support to all distance mode programmes. It will not only save a lot of money spent on the counseling sessions, but it will also ensure timely academic support by the programme coordinators directly to the learners by the IGNOU faculty.

The basic objectives of the WEAS scheme are to creatively use the ICT tools for innovative teaching-learning in the ODL system; empower the faculty to design, develop and offer WEAS to the learners, and explore the possibilities of replacing the counseling session at the study centres in low enrolment programmes with the WEAS.

Learners can access the WEAS portal at; //sites.google.com/ignou.ac.in/weas

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