Teacher Education through Open and Distance Learning

By Bernadette Robinson; Colin Latchem | Go to book overview

Chapter 12

Conclusions

Bernadette Robinson and Colin Latchem

Enough evidence and experience are available to show that open and distance education can be a viable, effective and even cost-effective way of providing initial training and continuing professional development for teachers, if well planned, adequately resourced and competently managed. The range of use is wide, as the preceding chapters show. The role it has played within teacher education systems has varied from the essential (in enabling countries to reach some of their development goals) to the supplementary (offering more teachers more learning opportunities while they continue to teach). The interest of policy-makers, planners, international organizations and educational institutions in its potential is matched by growth in its varied use as illustrated in this book. It is clear from the experience reported in this book and from recent research sponsored by UNESCO, carried out by the International Research Foundation for Open Learning and summarized in Perraton et al. (2001), that distance education has been used to solve a variety of problems in teacher supply and quality, often on a large scale. It has produced larger numbers of qualified teachers faster than conventional college programmes, acted as a vehicle for school-based professional development, used limited resources (budgets, facilities, people) in more productive ways, created high-quality learning resources and opened up pathways to career development for working teachers, headteachers and teacher-trainers.

However, not all programmes have been of good quality. Sometimes they have lacked one or more of the necessary key ingredients: adequate resourcing, policy support, well-informed planning, efficient management and co-ordination, well-designed and relevant learning materials, skilled human resources for the different roles needed, good alignment and integration with teacher education generally, and well-functioning partnerships in implementing programmes which involve school practice.

The preceding chapters have illustrated the achievements and limitations of distance education for teacher education as well as some of the problems and issues. Together, they have provided answers to the questions raised in Chapter 1, about the role and capability of distance

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