The instances of collaboration alluded to in this collection are only a small fraction of the many projects now forming an important part of the distance education landscape. The editors have personal experience of many good ideas that never progressed beyond the drawing board. Some proved impractical; others suffered from lack of trust, or funds, or other inhibitors. Readers can no doubt add their own examples. Attempts at collaboration have so proliferated, however, that detailed reports of successes and failures serve the valuable function of alerting would-be collaborators to factors militating for and against success. The case studies presented here cannot represent every variety of collaboration in distance education. In some respects they are an idiosyncratic choice, mixing the editors' desire to elucidate the policy implications of inter-institutional collaboration with their knowledge of particular ventures that might illustrate such implications. The case studies chosen do not deal with the lowest risk end of collaboration, such as straightforward information exchange or consultancy activities. Rather, they are characterized by complex motives and environments that significantly affected the success (or otherwise) of the venture. All are written by distance educators with firsthand knowledge of their subject. Each was asked not merely to describe the project but to reflect on the qualities and influences that caused it to develop as it did, and to suggest the broader policy implications that might be drawn from it.
The first two case studies deal with collaboration in the development and teaching of programmes. In both cases, there were two institutional partners. Both exemplify an interesting phenomenon: the development of integrated, 'laddered' programmes whereby partner institutions consciously structure and ease