The Challenge of a Distance Learning Professional Doctorate

Butcher, John and Sieminski, Sandy (2004). The Challenge of a Distance Learning Professional Doctorate. In: Proceedings of the EDEN 2004 Annual Conference, European Distance and E-Learning Network, pp. 45–50.



The first Doctorate in Education (EdD) in the UK was presented at Bristol University in 1992, following US innovations eighty years earlier, when the EdD was seen as a pre-service award, and Australian developments from 1990 where the EdD is seen as an in-service, professional development award. Over the last ten years, a rapid expansion of professional doctorates in education has taken place, with 37 different universities in the UK now offering EdD programmes. This is undoubtedly a response to a growing market (both national and international), which might be a direct result of changing political agendas. These EdDs are all in their different ways a doctoral qualification with an explicitly professional orientation, generally presented as requiring part-time independent study supported by blocks of taught components (for example research methodology) delivered at weekend residential schools in the university. Recent policy initiatives in the UK have suggested a model of teacher professional development conceptualising teaching as a research-based, or evidence-based practice. However, there is a contrary policy direction running simultaneously in England and Wales, which is seeking to impose a more instrumental, Standards driven approach to professional development.

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