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2nd Edition Cover

The Second Edition
is now available!

award iconAwarded the Charles A. Wedemeyer Award by the University Continuing Education Association. The Charles A. Wedemeyer Award recognizes publications of merit that make significant contributions to research in the field of distance education.



Terry Anderson
& Fathi Elloumi



ack in 1982, one reviewer hailed Athabasca University’s book Learning at a Distance: A World Perspective as “a miracle of educational publishing.” Open and distance learning has evolved through several mutations since then, and Athabasca has now brought us up to date with a wonderfully perceptive and complete guide to the theory and practice of online learning. Most of the authors are from Athabasca University and their shared experience of developing online learning within that extraordinarily successful open university allows them to analyse online learning for the wider world in an admirably coherent manner.

Starting with a comprehensive summary of relevant educational


theory, the book revisits, in a lively way, the great dichotomies that have marked the history of open and distance learning. How should we balance the social and individual aspects of study? What is the right mixture between independent and interactive learning? Should courses be paced for cohorts of students, or unpaced for the benefit of individuals? Succeeding chapters give helpful and well-informed guidance on vital aspects of online learning practice, such as copyright, multimedia editing, supporting asynchronous discussion, library support, and quality assurance. The concept of the value chain is used to set online learning in the context of today’s competitive educational


marketplace in order to help institutional leaders decide where their own advantage might lie.

I am delighted that educators all over the world will be able to enjoy this book at no cost because, in the true academic spirit of an open university, Athabasca has published it as an open source book under a Creative Commons License. UNESCO strongly encourages this form of publication as a way of bridging the digital divide and thereby helping to bring online learning to all the world’s people.

Sir John Daniel
Assistant Director-General
for Education, UNESCO


heory and Practice of Online Learning, edited by Terry Anderson and Fathi Elloumi, is concerned with assisting providers of online education with useful tools to carry out the teaching and learning transactions online. It presents, in an easily readable form, the theory, administration, tools, and methods of designing and delivering learning online. By doing so, the authors bring to the teaching community a valuable product which should go a long way in


popularizing the use of the learning technologies.

Education, more than any other human endeavor, should be a real and lasting beneficiary of the ICT revolution. However the potential of this revolution can only be realized if those engaged in delivering education are knowledgeable, skilled, and able to apply these technologies effectively and efficiently. Despite the loud rhetoric of recent times, the uptake of learning technologies by the educational


community is rather slow, reflecting partly the low levels of investment, in money and time, in the training of educational workers by individuals and their institutions, as well as the paucity of training materials on the subject. This publication, with its clarity and detail, greatly enhances our knowledge of the issues and our skills in addressing them.

Raj Dhanarajan, President Commonwealth of Learning