The Open Classroom: Distance Learning in and out of Schools

By Jo Bradley | Go to book overview

Introduction

Jo Bradley

This book is about open and distance learning (ODL) at school level. It deals with experiences in schools, and also with programmes for learners out of school. This level of education, and these students, have not been much written about by professional distance educators. We have read and heard a great deal about open universities and distance learning for adults seeking professional qualifications, but not so much about using ODL with children and young people to help them acquire school level certificates.

Now, however, the scene has changed around us and information and communication technologies (ICTs) are revolutionizing the ways in which this level of education can be offered, at least in industrialized countries. Some of the writers in this volume are at the forefront of these developments, experimenting with new approaches to teaching children, and analysing what is happening to schools and teachers in the wake of these changes. Others are part of a movement which predates the new technology, in some cases by a surprisingly long time. Their concern is with young people who do not have access to conventional schools, for reasons which usually originate in social exclusion or economic hardship.

The late Michael Young, to whom this book is dedicated, founded the National Extension College, Cambridge, in the 1960s. He and his colleagues saw the NEC as a prototype for a new kind of distance education: one that would harness the technologies of broadcasting to the techniques of the correspondence colleges to offer a new kind of 'three-way teaching'. NEC has always offered secondary courses leading to nationally recognized school-leaving exams. When Michael

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