Learning at a Distance and the New Technology


102 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 0-919055-04-4




Reviewed by Dean Tudor

Dean Tudor is a journalism professor at the Ryerson Polytechnical
Institute and founding editor of the CBRA.


British Columbia had the first provincial public correspondence program in Canada in 1919. Since that time, of course, the modes of delivery have changed from the mails to a number of “high tech” forms, all of which are dealt with in this first-rate summary report. As the authors state, this book is both descriptive, in that a broad overview of what was going on up through 1981 is presented, and prescriptive, in that it presents problems that government must address if distance education is going to be cost effective. Data collection was by interviews, literature searches, and a survey of existing and projected equipment, all through 1981. The four new modes of delivery include video-discs, videotex, microcomputers, and communication satellites. What it all boils down to, though, is whether distance education can be best expressed through passive learning (with programs to “play” at any time, through correspondence, tapes, and discs) or through active learning (with interactive programs such as videotex and microcomputers). The main questions are: should programs be played at the institute’s convenience (through radio, television and communication satellites), or at the student’s convenience (through tapes and discs at home)? Should they be passive or interactive? What is the cost-effectiveness? Some here may opt for the videotex of Telidon, but I think that microcomputers are more likely to be the right approach, particularly since more and more people now have them and the costs have plummeted, overtaking the speculations of Learning at a Distance.


“Learning at a Distance and the New Technology,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/38991.