From distance education to online education

Mason, Robin (2000). From distance education to online education. The Internet and Higher Education, 3(1-2) pp. 63–74.



This paper draws together my experience of online learning at The Open University. It documents changes in attitude and practice amongst staff over a period of nearly 15 years. During that time I conducted seven research studies, including my PhD, on various aspects of online learning – course design, online tutoring, assessment and evaluation. Highlights from this research are given in the paper, as well as an overview of significant turning points in the implementation of elearning in the University.
The UK Open University (OU) was founded 30 years ago as a print-based distance teaching institution. It is gradually transforming itself into an electronic university. This article describes some of the steps along the way, focusing on the use of computer conferencing and the Web for course delivery and support of students. Many of the barriers and problems are analysed, as well as the successes and key turning points. The research issues related to this change are also highlighted, as are some of the evaluation studies carried out at the university on its use of new technologies.

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