Shelton Mayes, A. and Burgess, H. (2010) Open and distance learning for initial teacher education. In: Danaher, P. A. and Umar, A. (eds.) Perspectives on Distance Education: Teacher Education Through Open and Distance Learning. Vancouver, Canada: Commonwealth of Learning. pp. 35-46.
Open and distance learning (ODL) has played an important role in initial teacher education and training since the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)/UNESCO Institute of Education was set up in the 1960s. Early programmes addressed crisis situations by, for example, providing qualified teachers for Palestinian refugee children. The first decade of the 21st century has seen ODL emerge as an established and embedded part of national initial teacher education and training provision in both developing and developed countries. ODL has been adopted worldwide as the potential solution to a range of teacher education issues, from cost and supply to access, diversity and quality. In particular, it has been promoted as a key strategy to achieve the World Forum’s Education for All and the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals. As stated by the World Forum on Education in 2000, ODL offers a means of: “ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality.” In this chapter, the authors discuss a number of questions: Why is ODL used in initial teacher education? Does the use of ODL serve the same purposes in developing and developed countries? What is the impact of information and communication technologies on ODL? What are the key quality challenges ODL in initial teacher education? Finally, the authors consider whether ODL’s potential to achieve the Education for All commitment has been realised