Network problems

January 28, 2000

David Noble suggests that distance learning offers the same empty promises made by promoters of the correspondence courses early last century (Enterprise, THES, January 21). While this may be the case in those instances where enthusiasm for the use of new technologies is combined with pedagogical ineptitude, it is by no means universal.

There are many examples of distance-education providers delivering high-quality, flexible learning. One factor that differentiates the good from others is that the good provide supported open learning that is pedagogically sound.

Information and communications technology is used by these institutions in ways that continue to see technology as a means and not an end in itself. Interestingly, a similar point to that is made in the article "Online teaching's costs are 'high, rewards low'" on the facing page.

Dennis Bancroft Director, National Distance Learning Centre, Dublin City University

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