The Open Classroom: Distance Learning in and out of Schools

By Jo Bradley | Go to book overview

Chapter 1

Classroom open learning: a case of old wine in new bottles?

Janet Jenkins

School-level distance learning is an old story. It first hit the headlines with the foundation of the Schools of the Air in Australia in the 1920s. It continues to be used, and it works well. But in the last quarter century it has received little attention in comparison with university distance education. The spotlight has been on the supermarket open universities with their mass market, the tailor-made distance programmes of traditional universities and-most recently-e-learning initiatives aimed at the global market.

In contrast, the old story of school-level distance education is half-forgotten. Classroom open learning is often thought to be something completely new, stimulated by information and communications technologies (ICT) and inspired by open and distance learning (ODL) in higher education. This chapter attempts to redress the balance by reviewing the past-the long tradition of school-level ODL-and describing its renaissance in the emerging 'open classroom'.

The notion of 'open classroom' requires some elaboration. The traditional view of ODL is one of physical distance between teachers and learners. So what has distance education to do with the classroom? The reality is that, with the advent of new learning technologies, the boundaries between distance and traditional education are becoming blurred. School-level ODL is no longer simply an

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