Over the years, distance education has gone under many names: self-learning, correspondence education, external studies, extension studies and, most recently, open learning and online learning.
Moore (1973, 669) defines distance education as, “All those teaching methods in which, because of the physical separation of learners and teachers, the interactive (simulation, explanation, questioning, guidance) as well as the proactive phase of teaching (selecting objectives, planning curriculum and instructional activities) is conducted through print, mechanical and electronic devices.”
Drawing on their combined 60 years of international experience of distance education in higher education, the authors chart its origins and progression from correspondence study to online learning. They examine the role of educational technology, which the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT 2008) defines as, “the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources” (authors’ italics). They consider such crucial issues as hype and hope in adopting new technologies, quality assurance, professional development, leadership, management, and research. They conclude by recommending more wide-ranging and in-depth studies into the efficacy, scalability, ...