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Online Learning and Distance Education Resources — Moderated by Tony Bates, Research Associate, Contact North | Contact Nord
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Finding topics or publications on this blog web site

This site has over 2,500 posts and a lot of links to academic articles and educational blogs. To help you quickly find what you are looking for, three different strategies are suggested below.

The search box is at the very top right of the navigation bar on each page. The easiest and usually the quickest way to find any topic or author is to use the web site's search function. To limit the number of 'hits' you get (the full article will appear), be as precise as possible in use of key words (e.g. 'virtual reality at Drexel University'). You may need to try different variations on each topic name, e.g. 'open educational resources' or 'OER'.

2. Search by topic

Alternatively, some of the most popular topics on this site are organised under the topic headings listed later on this page. In these pages you will find just the title of the post and bibliographical details of the article, with links to the full post or article. This is a quick way to see what is collected under a topic heading.

3. Search by category

There are two types of category:
  • selected bibliography by topic/category: every blog post on this site has a 'tag' classifying the topic of the post. By clicking on the category, all the posts tagged as such will appear in full. If you want to read everything about a particular topic or category, this is the best search strategy
  • selected bibliography by author: if you know the author of an article, then this will give you a list of all articles by authors with the same first letter of the alphabet in their surname (e.g. 'Chatli', 'Coughlan', 'Coates' under 'c'.) I suggest you only use this method if the other search strategies fail.



What is the difference between online learning, e-learning, open learning, flexible learning, blended learning or distance learning? There are no generally agreed, precise definitions, but it is important that we share meaning as much as possible so we can be clear when communicating about these topics. Therefore by clicking on this link, you can see how I define these terms.

What do you mean by…?

Join me in a conversation about these definitions.

Book series

Several publishers specialise in this area: It is always useful to check out these sites a couple of times a year.

Journals on online learning and distance education

Contact North has an up-to-date Searchable Directory of Selected Journals in Online and Distance Learning. I have older lists of e-learning  and distance education journals.

Research into online learning

Although most practitioners are blithely unaware of the results, there is  a great deal of research about online learning. This page provides links to various research reports and conference outcomes regarding research into e-learning.

Organisations supporting online learning 

This entry lists organisations that provide support for the use of e-learning, online learning and open education in post-secondary education. Many have their own journals and organise annual conferences, and provide professional networking and support for those interested in and/or using e-learning.

Recommended graduate programs in e-learning/online learning

This is a list of programs available mainly online and from mainly North American institutions for those that want further qualifications in the field. Again, this is not a comprehensive list, but includes only those programs that I know about personally or which have been recommended to me by people I trust.

Video for teaching in universities and colleges

In my view, video is grossly under-used or poorly used in online learning: courses have too much textual information, videos have too much talking head, and not enough attention is paid to the unique pedagogical characteristics (or 'affordances') of the medium when it is used. This was excusable when video was expensive to produce and distribute, but now the technical costs are relatively minor. So here are a whole set of resources on the use of video in online learning: If for some reason you want to see videos of me (mostly talking head), giving presentations or interviews, then you will find them listed under 'Tony's Publications'.

Virtual worlds

This page contains links to resources on virtual worlds, virtual reality, and augmented reality.

Serious games: games for learning

This page contains links to resources on serious games in education.

e-Portfolios for learning 

A ‘portfolio’ refers to a personal collection of information describing, documenting and recording a person’s achievements and learning. For a range of resources about e-portfolios click here

Open educational resources

This page links to resources on OER (open educational resources)

More topics?

This is an ongoing process. I plan to bring articles and posts on more topics together, starting with:
  • learning management systems
  • policies and management
Here's where I need your help:
  • what other topics would you like me to cover in this way?
  • which topics are most useful to you?
Please use the comment box below.

A personal guide to online learning and distance education around the world

Since I've worked in online learning and distance education in a lot of places over the last 50 years, I've learned a bit about the different higher education systems and the role of online and distance learning in their systems, so I thought it might be of interest then to reflect on my personal knowledge and reflections here. Obviously I am a lot more authoritative on Canada , where I have lived and worked for the past 30 years, than on Afghanistan, which I last visited 40 years ago, or Argentina, where I have spent just two weeks. (For a more thorough and systematic analysis of distance education around the world, see: Qayyum and Zawicki-Richter, 2018.)  Nevertheless personal experience is worth a lot. I also thought this would be a good opportunity to share some of photos I've taken, because they add texture to dry text. Here are some of the more exotic - and some less exotic - places where I have worked: Still to come:
  • China
  • Croatia
  • Mexico
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Spain/Catalonia
  • UK
  • USA
If I have missed anything significant about your institution in this analysis, please let me know!

Other resources

This site is a bit of a grab-bag that provides links to other blogs on online learning and other resources about online learning.

Last updated: 28 August 2018