Students at the Soshanguve campus of Tshwane University of Technology looking for their exam results.

Yesterday I gave my overview of the main developments in online and distance learning in 2022. Today, I am doing a more personal review of my activity during 2022. This is more for personal accountability, but I thought I would share it with you, just in case it was of interest.

Main clients

I did work on an irregular basis during 2022 for the following clients:

  • BCIT: advising on the implementation of BCIT’s eLearning strategy
  • Contact North|Contact Nord: research associate, helping again with informal advice and occasional articles/papers for both external and internal use by Contact North
  • Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) School of Continuing Education: again, informal advice on strategy and research in online learning

Canadian Digital Learning Research Association

I decided to step down from the Board of the CDLRA in March, after four years on the Board. I did this because the CDLRA is now soundly established, with excellent new board members and a full time Executive Director. Funding is relatively secure. It does excellent work in measuring the development of digital learning in Canada. I remain an ordinary member of the CDLRA, as I am still interested in its work.

An institutional quality audit

I was invited by the South African Council of Higher Education (CHE) to be a member of the institutional audit panel for Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). This is the largest campus-based university in South Africa, with over 60,000 students. It has several different campuses in and around Pretoria. In particular, it has a large proportion of low income students from the African townships. I was invited on the panel because CHE needed an international member, and someone with expertise in online and digital learning.

Because of a confidentiality agreement, I cannot say much about the findings of the audit, but I can talk about the process, which I found fascinating. I have been on quality audits of individual programs in Canada, particularly graduate programs in online learning or educational technology, but we don’t really do quality audits of the teaching and decision-making for a whole institution, unless it is in deep trouble. In South Africa, though, this is a fairly routine process for all universities.

The way it works is that CHE provides an institution with a detailed quality assessment process. A feature is that the institution does its own self-evaluation report, following questions and guidelines provided by CHE. This report is backed up by a lengthy Portfolio of Evidence to support the conclusions reached in the self-evaluation. The audit panel then does a site visit and meets with a wide range of people, from the Vice-Chancellor, the equivalent of Senate, Deans, heads of department, instructors, the main unions, and student representatives.

I did not travel to South Africa. My meetings with the audit panel were all virtual, usually at 6.00 – 7.00 am Vancouver time. The rest of the audit panel did visit all the campuses in person (I had visited two for other reasons on previous trips to South Africa), and I was linked in via video-conferencing. This meant that for the week of the campus visits, I was working from midnight to about 7 am, because of the time difference. This was an experiment by CHE, and on balance, I think it would have been more useful to have been in South Africa for the site visits, despite the cost and extra time needed.

As I said, I cannot discuss the actual results, but I can say I was very impressed, both with the process, and the response of everyone at TUT. Part of the audit included TUT’s response to the pandemic, which was handled particularly well by the university under very difficult circumstances. 

There is much we in Canada could learn from the South African institutional audit process. I think the process could be simplified or, rather, more targeted to reduce the burden both on the institution and the audit panel, because the self-evaluation process is a huge amount of work for the institution, but the results in terms of self-reflection and resulting change is well worth the effort. If the final report is made public, I will write more about it.


Teaching in a Digital Age

I published the third edition of Teaching in a Digital Age in March. I updated it with new sections on the impact of Covid-19, strengthened the section on the differences between synchronous and asynchronous learning, and provided more context for k-12 teachers, as well as adding or replacing urls and references.

Translations of the third edition into Spanish, French, Japanese and Hindu are either completed (Spanish) or underway, all being done by volunteers. It is now available in the BCcampus Open Textbook Collection. It’s a little harder to find, but it’s here, and has all the various versions (html, epub, pdf, hard copy print, etc.), or you can access it directly from here.

Articles and book chapters

I absolutely detest writing academic articles these days. You end up spending more time dealing with the publisher after the first draft is sent in than on the research and writing. Publishers now offload all their work on to authors and require you to use the most irritating, bureaucratic and unreliable software to handle style and other corrections. The actual publication usually comes out at least two years after the first draft is submitted, which is unforgivable in a field such as online learning, which moves so rapidly.

Nevertheless I made exceptions in the following cases:

Bates, T. (2022) ‘Managing Innovation in Teaching in ODDE‘, in Zawacki-Richter, O. and Jung, I. (eds.) Handbook of Open, Distance, and Digital Education (ODE) Springer: Singapore. Note: this is STILL in the Preview stage – almost a year after the finally ‘approved’ manuscript was submitted.

Bates, T. (in press) ‘Serendipity: Becoming a Specialist in Online Learning’ in Conrad, D. (ed.) Open and Distance Learning Researchers Write their Process: Stories of Creativity and Inspiration

Bates, T. (in press) ‘Key Issues in Teaching and Learning Resulting from the Covid-19 Pandemic’, in Natural Sciences.

I have also started writing my autobiography, mainly at the request of my family. 

Presentations, workshops and seminars

I did 14 keynotes, seven to Canadian conferences, universities or colleges, and others to conferences in Bahrein, Turkey, Ireland, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Norway and Mexico.

I also did webinars to masters students taking programs in educational technology at UBC, Royal Roads University, Athabasca University and Indiana University (USA).

Several conferences made use of my free, pre-recorded keynotes hosted by the Commonwealth of Learning.

Social media

For work purposes, apart from email and Signal, I use three main social media: my blog, Twitter and LinkedIn.

My blog

I did 37 posts in 2022, way down from the 65 posts in 2021, but again 2021 was an unusual year. I am averaging the same number of hits per day (about 640) as in 2019, but nowhere near the peak years of 2014, 2015, 2020, and 2021, when I was averaging over 1,000 hits a day. There is though a correlation between doing drafts of ‘Teaching in a Digital Age’ in some of those years, which clearly pushed up the traffic to the site, probably by students doing graduate courses on online learning or educational technology.

I did pass a total of 4 million hits this year since I began the blog site in 2008.

The two most popular posts during 2022 were:

Learning theories and online learning   15,126
The strengths and weaknesses of competency-based learning in a digital age   14,821

However, both were first posted in 2014, which suggests these are still core readings for many students.

The two most popular posts in 2022 were:

Third edition of Teaching at a Distance is now published   2,555
Defining quality and online learning   2,443


The golden rule of blogging is to post every day if you can. However, the drop in the number of posts this year was because I was working less, and so had less to say. I’d be interested though to hear from bloggers who have maintained their rate of posting to see if there is less interest now in blogs than a few years ago.


I use Twitter mainly to advertise my blog posts. My followers had been steadily growing each year to around 6,900, but since Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter this year, this has now dropped to 6,700, as people have left the platform. I will still continue to use Twitter, but I will be watching Musk and his policies closely.

I’d be interested in any comments you may have about whether you think there is diminishing interest or otherwise in blogs and Twitter. Please use the comment box at the end of this post (or email me at

Slowing down

As I am now 83 years old, I made a strong effort to slow down in 2022, take more holidays, and improve my golf handicap. I ended up working about 10-15 hours a week on average, though there were a couple of weeks when I was working 40 hours or more. I also won my first golf tournament ever! So, in general, mission accomplished.

I plan to continue working at a slower pace, but I will continue to blog into 2023, but only when I feel I have something useful to say.

This will be my last post for 2022, unless something really surprising occurs between now and the New Year (events, dear boy, events) . So have a great holiday season and I’ll talk to you in 2023.



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