An early form of distance education: St. Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians Image: BBC

Too often, we are isolated by language from the relevant work of other people in online and distance education. I am pleased therefore to bring attention to Médiations & Méditisations

The Journal

Médiations & Médiatisations is a journal devoted to education in the digital era. It focuses on issues of importance to total or partial distance education. It is supported by Téluq, Québec’s distance teaching university. Articles are published in three languages: French, English and Spanish. (Warning: although the abstracts are in all three languages, most of the full papers are available only in their original language)

Special issue on the history of distance education

Issue 6 has just been published. It is a special issue on:

The articles

The editor of the edition is Viviane Glikman. Her editorial is:

There are three research articles:

There is one ‘practitioner’ article:

There is one discussion/debate article:

Then there are six interviews/personal accounts:

My article (with Viviane Glikman)

My article focuses on the development of media and technology in distance education, but rather than focus on specific technologies, the focus is on the following media of communication:

  • oral communication
  • written communication
  • video
  • computer technologies

The main lessons I draw are as follows:

  • many claims made for a newly emerging technology are likely to be neither true nor new; what we need to understand better are the educational affordances of emerging media: what they can do better than existing media.
  • new technology rarely completely replaces an older technology; usually the old technology remains, operating within a more specialised ‘niche’
  • we have moved away from the confines of speech, or text, or audio, or video, or computing, to rich, multimedia environments that support a variety of approaches to teaching and learning
  • we need innovative teachers and administrators, and thinkers, to continue to push the boundaries of what is possible, while at the same time not ignoring the lessons from history.

In particular distance education  – and even online learning – is much more than 30 years old. It did not start (or end) with the Internet. I think we are still waiting for the definitive history. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for good histories of distance education, drop me a line at


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