Online Degree, Online Courses and Distance Learning in Czech Republic

About Online Degree, Online Courses and Distance Learning in Czech Republic

Over the past two decades, distance learning in the Czech Republic, using online technologies as the primary mode of instruction, has steadily become more organized, cohesive and widespread.  In its current form it has become a very popular educational modality among students in higher education institutions and for adult lifelong learners.  Records indicate that over half of all Czech university students now take at least one course a year in a full or modified online distance format, and there are hundreds more taking their entire course of study in this manner.  Below we will examine how distance learning is being used at institutions of higher learning and adult education schools, including a brief history detailing how this educational format has evolved over the years.
Distance Learning and Higher Education
Distance learning in its current online form has been a hot topic of conversation in the Czech Republic since the early 1990s, largely due to the increasing demand for its implementation.  The problem that faced the Czech government, however, was cost.  Distance education requires institutions with excellent technical facilities, and the price tag can often be high for the development of materials and the training of faculty and administrators.
Although the development of distance education was admittedly slow, the project received a major boost in 1999 thanks to the Phare Program, a multi-country initiative developed by the European Union with a focus on providing students greater access to higher education.  The major outcome of this program was the development of the National Center for Distance Education in the Czech Republic, a well-equipped facility that includes high-speed Internet access, technical equipment and a complete distance learning library.  It also helped to establish four local centers for distance education, located in the cities of Prague, Liberec, Brno and Olomouc.  In collaboration with these centers, the universities in these major cities are now able to offer hundreds of courses leading to Bachelor and Master’s Degrees in several important fields of study.
While the Czech Republic has still not adopted the Open University system seen in many Western European nations, first steps have been taken to move in that direction, and further development of distance education is an important component of the country’s long-term plan for education.
Distance Education and Lifelong Learners
The concept of lifelong learning became very popular throughout the world in the 1990s, even receiving legal support in the Czech Republic in the form of legislation.  These programs have many functions, including enabling adult students to complete their higher education, allowing them to receive training in various vocations, and providing opportunities for enrichment.  Many higher education institutions in the Czech Republic, public and private, academic and vocational, have developed their own centers for adult education and have trained staff strictly for this purpose.
Distance online education has played a major role in the success of these adult education programs, giving access to many who would otherwise be excluded.  Many working adults lack the time and/or the necessary transportation to attend school in the traditional manner, but with online courses they can arrange their own schedule and study at their own pace.  It has also allowed more seniors to take advantage of the education system.  Many Czech universities have now established “Universities of the Third Age,” where seniors can advance their education, and perhaps even more importantly, take classes that lead to personal enrichment and fulfillment.
While many courses of study are offered entirely online, with no attendance requirement whatsoever, accreditation for these programs can often prove difficult.  As a result, most universities offer a modified distance program, requiring physical attendance for the taking of exams and other specific activities.

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