Helen Craig and Hilary Perraton
It is widely agreed that initial teacher training alone is an inadequate basis for achieving good quality in teachers and teaching. Continuing professional development is receiving increasing attention for several reasons. Education is changing rapidly and teachers need to keep pace with the changes so there is pressure from governments, and from the teaching profession itself, for updating. As more teachers gain initial qualifications, so the focus of governments has tended to shift towards the improvement of quality. At the same time, lifelong learning in many professions, including teaching, is seen as a necessity for economic development in the competitive global economy.
Employers and managers of teachers do, however, face two major challenges in supporting their continuing professional development: providing access to learning opportunities for large numbers of teachers dispersed across schools in a country or region, and funding them. The budgets allocated to teachers' continuing professional development are usually small and, if traditional forms of training are used, too limited to provide for more than a small proportion of teachers.
Distance education has played a role in meeting both these challenges and is likely to play an increasing one, given the gap between the range, volume and continuity of demand and the limited availability of resources. This chapter examines the forms and role that distance education has taken and the decisions that planners need to make in using open and distance education for teachers' professional development.
In this and other chapters we draw a distinction between the initial education and training of teachers and their continuing professional development. While this distinction is useful, it may in practice sometimes be blurred; where both qualified and unqualified teachers are employed in schools, some programmes of continuing education are addressed