How good, then, were the results? The question demands several answers. We can say something about the audience reached by programmes and about students’ examination results. In some cases we can go on to add something about students’ performance as teachers. All these answers use administrators’ measures, showing how far programmes reached explicit or implicit targets and, in some cases, how their success or failure compared with those of alternatives. But there are also a few data which shed light on students’ opinions about their work and about the role of gender in determining public and individual success.
There are two other sets of lessons to be drawn. The first concerns teaching practice, the Achilles’ heel of teacher education, where we can identify a number of alternative approaches to education in classroom skills. The second concerns conditions for success: the experience of these 12 projects yields some conclusions about ways of running effective programmes of teacher education at a distance.
Many of the programmes started with a numerical imperative. In Britain the Department of Education and Science needed a mechanism that would develop training materials about its new secondary examination and get 450,000 copies of these into the hands of teachers; it turned to the Open University (OU) as the most obvious agency to do this. The teacher-upgrading project in Tanzania was conceived in order to train between 35,000 and 40,000 teachers needed for universal primary education at a time when the conventional colleges had only 5,000 students in total. The first and simplest measure of success is one of reach; as Table 14.1 shows, distance-education programmes, especially but not only at primary level, have a reasonable record of success in reaching audiences.
The ability of a distance-teaching institution, or a government, to reach large audiences is not, of course, the sole criterion of success. Individual students may have different concerns and reasons to enrol. Professional groups, at least in rich countries, are increasingly expecting opportunities to