Learning and Teaching in Distance Education
Analyses and interpretations from an International Perspective

Otto Peters

Kogan Page - London 1998


It may be that every sensible idea has already been conceived seven times. But if it is reflected on again, at another time and under different circumstances, it is no longer the same idea. (Ernst Bloch)

The subtitle of this book will on the one hand surprise some readers because they think that traditional pedagogical thought has long since been absorbed by curriculum development and educational technology. Others will be aware of pedagogics as a long tradition of the practice and theory of learning and teaching. Pedagogics describes and reflects not only methods of learning and teaching and their efficiency, but also their social preconditions, psychological implications and societal consequences. It is strictly practice-oriented, derives its theories from this practice, interprets learnnng and teaching as a historical phenomenon, and is always aware of the complexity of each teaching-learning situation. This book aims to provide that type of comprehensive approach to distance education.

Many readers will ask themselves whether such an approach is (still) possible. Protagonists and advocates of educational technology and curriculum development may even consider it to be a provocative idea. And students of practical and theoretical distance education will be sceptical - experience teaches them that they do not proceed in accordance with a concept that provides unity, let alone are able to refer to a theory that is harmonious in itself. What they in fact have to deal with in reality is a variety of relevant practical methods and theoretical approaches that are in part very far from each other but that, depending on the situation, form connections of a unique nature.

In this situation, the obvious thing would be to satisfy ourselves about these types of practical methods and theoretical approaches, because a 'theory of learning and teaching in distance education', however it is shaped, may not disregard any experience gained in the field. The question arises as to whether we could understand the total effect from various aspects of the topic and thereby classify distance education theoretically and temporarily as a type of 'pedagogics of distance education'- at least as a working hypothesis. If that were the case, the pedagogics of distance education would have to be based on the following practical methods and theoretical approaches, or at least refer to them: the tradition of academic teaching, pedagogics for higher education, the pedagogics of adult and continuing education, empirical research into learning and teaching, educational technology, electronic telecommunications, specific social-science findings, and general pedagogics.

The tradition of academic teaching, which has an effect on distance education and which is undoubtedly specific to different countries, is still underestimated in its importance for practical purposes. This is certainly the wrong thing to do, because this tradition is based on implicit theories on the significance of the respective scientific disciplines, of course contents selected and offered, of studying itself, and possibly even of the academic approach itself without this being of conscious or even incidental influence. It would be erroneous to neglect this tradition in a more technological understanding of academic teaching, to deny it, or even to fight against it.

University pedagogics, as it developed in Germany in the course of the nineteenth century (Schmidkunz, 1898; Rosenbrock, 1979), and many people have forgotten this, later achieved a broad effect never seen before, in particular since the 1970s (Huber, 1983/1995a), and also has references to distance education. It is above all important in so far as the pedagogics of distance education may not be reduced to the totality of those technological tricks and measures that merely enable learning and teaching at a distance. This new form of academic teaching has certainly found new groups of students whose special learning situation must be analysed and taken into account. The 'pedagogics of producing and imparting scientific knowledge' (von Hentig, 1970) can still contribute scientifically theoretical justifications of the acceptance and integration of university pedagogics even today.

In addition, because students taking part in distance education are usually mature students, and may even be middle-aged or older, and because distance education is implicitly or explicitly continuing education, theories of adult and continuing education (Siebert, 1996; Raapke, 1985; Siebert, 1984; Tiedgens, 1981) should at least - because of its very nature - be a factor in a pedagogics of distance education. From this aspect there have always been traditional reservations with regard to distance education. In spite of this, P6ggeler (1975, V), for example, counted self-study including distance teaching among 'the five methodological basic forms of adult education'. And according to Siebert (1984: 172) pedagogic activity in adult education takes place in 'distance education' as well.

However, in any exposition of this system of pedagogics, we are confronted with a particular set of problems as adult education pursues specific goals. In most disciplines, it will be very difficult to imagine that teaching can be oriented towards the students 'Lebenswelt', their everyday knowledge and action (or their 'biographies' for example (Siebert, 1993: 60)), chiefly because of their different targets and their factual stringency. In the case of learning and teaching in distance education, even the concept of teaching by having regard to the 'interpretative patterns of learners', which has been propagated so much recently, is probably only able to play a theoretical role and would find it difficult to play a practical one.

The distance-teaching universities founded in the 1970s had to cope with tasks forwhich there were no examples in academic tradition, and to cope with them with practically no preparation, in order to enable themselves to bridge the distances between university and students and to enable guided self-study for tens of thousands of students. Courses of studies had to be worked out in great detail, arranged, produced and distributed, and not simply named or described in a few meagre words as in examination and study regulations. The problem was not just to stimulate learning processes from a distance, but to support, promote and evaluate them.

Empirical research into learning and teaching had in fact at that time developed planning, design, intervention, control and evaluation procedures that it was possible to use as educational technology and subsequently as instructional design in a pragmatic sense for the development of large-scale distance-education systems. Pedagogically oriented critics, who shudder in horror at the mere mention of expressions such as 'educational technology'(or even 'pedagogical technology'), overlook the advantages that these methods offered to those who wanted to develop large-scale, supra-regional learning and teaching projects with the help of modern communications media. After all, academic teaching was to be provided and evaluated with the help of television, radio and in part with computers. Educational technology enabled distance-teaching universities throughout the world to handle these innovations theoretically and practically. Since then, educational technology has changed several times and is interpreted today as 'instructional design'. The concept of 'pedagogic design' (Flechsig, 1987) shows how far this process has come even when post-modern trends are taken into account.

In the correlation shown here, a connection must also be made with the theoretical and practical field of electronic telecommunications. The problem in this case is to integrate the enormous range of experience gathered (above all in the USA) in industry and also in many institutes of higher education in imparting knowledge through the medium of television, and more recently with teleconferencing - but without any connection with or reference to the theory and practice of distance education (Duning, 1993). American universities have a tradition going back over 50 years of using film and television to teach. Large consortia have formed to bundle the courses offered by many universities and to make them accessible to all their members via satellite and cable television, whereby regional structures are created that change the overall university system. In the US electrical industry, the operation of its own institute of higher education, the National Technological University, should give pause for thought, for the university works with a one-way video and two-way audio system and concentrates on postgraduate studies, awarding master's degrees. Behind these trends is a powerful multinational scientific-technical-industrial complex with considerable influence. For this reason, the subject cannot simply be discussed under media pedagogics: distance-teaching pedagogics must also include a good deal of its socio-political relevance and potential dominance. Distance-teaching pedagogics will also have to refer to the relevant findings of distance-education research, which has come into being in the last 20 years and has already reached an amazing extent - from an international point of view. The research concerns itself with problems of learning and teaching in distance education. The following areas are important-here:

There is already a detailed international overview of the fields of research relevant to distance education (Peters 1997). Earlier findings are documented in Borje Holmberg's documentation Recent Research into Distance Education I and II (1982alb) and also in his Bibliography of Writings on Distance Education (1990).

Behind all this, and denied more than it is fully accepted, stands general pedagogics. This may appear strange to many people for the simple reason that, as far as they are concerned, pedagogics is concerned with teaching in schools and for this reason is not regarded by university teachers as being relevant to them. Their rejection increases to a real sense of aversion if they fear that university teaching could be developed into school-like teaching. However, we must not forget that all university teachers attended school for 12 or 13 years and were marked by the schools' traditions, and this experience has a lasting effect- unconsciously perhaps, but most definitely - on their own teaching behaviour. On the other hand, there are well known educationalists who quite definitely do not regard pedagogics in the context of school, but define it (properly) as the 'theory of learning and teaching in all possible situations and contexts' (Bohm, 1994: 169), and for some time have understood it as a science that 'has to do with learning in all forms and teaching of all types and at all stages' (Doich, 1952: 40; Hausmann, 1959: 16). This means that the special type of academic learning and teaching represented by distance studies is without any doubt one of their objectives.

Important reasons for referring to general pedagogics are the epistemological and empirical findings of a centuries-old tradition that have a conscious or unconscious effect still, and the corresponding discussion of new models of learning and teaching. Today, for example, we are finding that people are failing back on the old perception of pedagogics as the 'art of teaching'(Comenius, Ratke), and are viewing the teaching session as a special form of theatrical acting (Hausmann, 1959), in so far as aesthetic considerations also apply.

The same might be said about the concept of 'pedagogic design' (Flechsig, 1994: 2; 1987: 4), nowadays influenced by post-modernism, in that 'designing' is without doubt an artistic process. Those who look in addition at the models of the individualization of the learning process in the US schools-reform movement (the Dalton Plan, the Winetka Plan), Montessori's ingenious pedagogic representation of 'materials' to stimulate and develop individual pupils' own activity with simultaneous withdrawal by the teacher into the background, the principles of 'self-activity' and 'free intellectual activity' inherent within Hugo Gaudi's term 'Arbeitsschule', the corresponding structures of learning to a great extent independently from the teacher, and also to approaches such as the theory of self-education (Henz, 1971: 342), to name just some of the other approaches, will see clearly the structural proxmity - and even affinity - of these pedagogical designs to distance teaching.

It is difficult to understand why learning and teaching processes in distance teaching cannot be analysed profitably on the basis of the levels of pedagogic action according to Flechsig and Haller (1975) or with the help of Peterssen's structure model (1 973). The model of genetic structuralism (Lenzen, 1973) could also be of advantage in the construction of learning processes in distance teaching. In the same way, newer pedagogic models could help - for example, to take much greater account than in the past of the central factors of communication, interaction, action and critical analysis in the development of distance-teaching courses and the organization of tutorials, study circles and workshops.

In addition, use of the idea of pedagogics has four other advantages: the historical perspective is regained, the sociocultural environment is taken more into account, the category of responsibility plays a part once again, and - above all - learning and teaching and pedagogic processes are related structurally to one another. These are aspects that, as a consequence of the domination of technological ways of thinking and quasi-engineered proceedings in this field, have been neglected and to a great extent lost.

Now it must be admitted that learning and teaching at universities in present-day conditions can only be interpreted as a pedagogical process in a greatly reduced and altered form (Huber, 1991: 163). 'Education through science' (Humboldt) and education as a 'way of finding identity in a rational culture' (Mittelstrass, 1986: 74) still remain aspects that must also apply to distance studies, which can in the end also be defined as a medium for personality development.

If we take all these factors together, the result is a series of aspects and approaches that today play a part in the development of a theory of learning and teaching in distance education. Anyone wanting to develop a system of pedagogics for distance education would have to take them into account, and this would correspond to the front-line nature of pedagogics. Until this happens, the working areas I have referred to and their stocks of theories will continue to be combined and interplay with one another in the consciousness of those who analyse and develop distance education.

In a pluralistic society, we cannot expect anything else, particularly under the influence of post-modern thinking, which the 'radical plurality' of orientations and conceptions of knowledge has hoisted as its standard (Welsch, 1988: 23). According to this view, it would be wrong to continue to search for a stringently well-composed unity theory. We should rather examine a variety of theoretical aspects, clarification models and evaluation criteria. This is the sense in which we are to understand 'pedagogics of distance education' here. And this is the sense in which in the following pages I will present an overview of the present status of relevant experiences and discussions in a number of countries. If this road proves passable, a future distance-education pedagogics might be restricted to clarifying the specific contributions of participating disciplines and their relationships with one another, and making use in doing this not only of historical, hermeneutical and critical factors but also of empirical-technological methods and findings. This will be to describe, explain, establish, and justify processes of learning and teaching in distance education, and to give them in a general meaning a target and a direction.

This type of integration of different scientific-theoretical positions may be criticized by many as pedagogic eclecticism and basically not be regarded as feasible. But striving for this is nothing new and not at all unnatural within pedagogics and pedagogic thought. It was supported more than 20 years ago by Gunther Dohmen (1972: 19) in his essay 'Teaching research and the formation of pedagogic theory in modern educational science' (1962: 191) with reference to Heinrich Roth and Wolfgang Brezinka. Roth believed (1962) that the study of educational reality can only succeed with the help of a 'methodological diversity orbiting around the object'. And Brezinka thought that the important thing was 'to use all possible aspects and methods, empirical and philosophical, instead of regarding them as mutually exclusive alternatives' (Peterssen, 1973: 53). Finally, Wolfgang Kjafki (1971) also based his concept of a constructively critical science of education on a combination of hermeneutics, empiricism and ideological and sociological critiques. The project of developing an integrated pedagogics of distance education will therefore not be setting foot on unexplored methodological territory.

The knowledge gained here can be integrated in the pedagogic self-reflection of distance-educational practitioners. In this way, distance teaching pedagogics might come into existence as a syncretic discipline, which would stand out against the theoretical set pieces at present under discussion in the current literature. Once it had been created, it would be naturally dynamic and subject to the effects of future pedagogic 'fashions' and fluctuations of the zeitgeist, i.e. it would continue to change in exactly the same way we have experienced so fulminantly in the interpretation of learning and teaching in the last 30 years. This would without doubt also refer to the respective relationships of the constitutive disciplines to one another.

This type of integrated distance-teaching pedagogics would be required today, because distance education, seen from an international point of view, is at present partly in a period of upheaval never before experienced, and partly in a period of unprecedented development. It could accompany distance education on its difficult road into the information and communications era and simplify many processes of rethinking. It could dampen the fever for novelty and put into perspective the dominance of technological thought in support of distance education, and alleviate the abrupt change from consultative education to a much more individualized and media-supported distance education in Eastern Europe. It could also help the many distance-education institutes that have sprung up in developing countries in the last 15 years in order to pass on orientation, structural transparency and train people in reflective action. And, finally, this type of integrated distance-teaching pedagogics might also serve as meta-science for the many specialists working in distance-teaching universities.

The objective of this book is to make readers familiar with this particular integrative and analytical approach to learning and teaching in distance education. This is important in so far as in the present era of globalization the conceptual developments I have introduced here can no longer be evolved in national frameworks alone. On the contrary, they must be discussed internationally, because the unprecedented growth of distance education during the last 25 years has been a truly international - if not global - phenomenon and because distance education will play an important role everywhere in the years to come when the university of the future will have to be designed.

The likelihood of the creation of an internationally discussed and agreed system of distance-teaching pedagogics is encouragingly good, and publication of this book may even be at just the right time to assist the process.

Chapter I

Taking stock

In this chapter, some essential elements of the pedagogics of distance education will be outlined and integrated into the discussion, and to do this five specific factors of distance education will be stressed that make it stand out against other forms of university teaching. These five factors are: the special combination of some conventional forms of learning and teaching; the special use of technical media; one special structural handicap; the special type of student encountered in distance learning; and, finally, the special forms of structuralization. The reader will be introduced to fundamental teaching problems that are found only in distance education. The purpose of this chapter is to show clearly the relevant consequences of the special factors described.

1. I Traditional access

If we look at the process of learning and teaching in distance education from the point of view of pedagogics, in its traditional form it is a matter of a more or less integrated combination of the forms of learning that were developed in traditional universities. These include:

We can see from this that distance education is on the one hand neither new nor alien. It has its roots in, and makes use of, the teaching forms used in traditional universities. On the other hand, it is exactly these forms of teaching that demonstrate the special pedagogic structure of distance education, because it is in fact combined and integrated with other focal points, above all through the much greater (and almost over-) emphasis laid on learning by reading and the considerable restrictions on learning by attending lectures, seminars and classes.

It becomes clear here just how far and how much pedagogics for higher education is able to play the role of godfather in the development of the science of distance teaching. With such help it is possible to carry out a structural analysis of the six fundmental forms of learning listed above in order to describe their respective advantages, to establish and check hypotheses regarding their optimisation, and above all to develop effective models for their use in combination. We must get to know the pedagogic core of distance education much more exactly than before, be alive to its unique qualities for distance education, and maintain it, above all in the face of recent technological challenges. Up to now, the special interplay of these six traditional methods of learning and teaching has taken place largely in the dark; illuminating and interpreting this interplay may indeed be one of the first tasks facing us as we develop the science of distance teaching.

Just how important this kind of pedagogic foundation is for future developments is made quite clear, for example, when computer-based learning programs are demonstrated at congresses and are seen to ignore even the most elementary aspects of knowledge and experience on the subject. Their creators are more concerned with technical processes and performance than even the slightest regard for pedagogics, and regretfully they often even do this consciously and out of conviction. There is an anti-sociological feeling behind this, and even an anti-educational attitude. This pedagogic core becomes even more important in the face of the intensive efforts being made by the relevant industry, led by hardware manufacturers, governments at national and European levels, and communications science. These efforts are aimed at creating a tightly knit information network for which distance education is simply nothing more than a new market. It appears to the representatives of such organizations that pedagogics is standing in the path of commercial or political success, or academic prestige, and considerations are therefore left by the wayside - if they get thought about at all.

1.2 The concept of the 'three generations'

Of course, it is no longer sufficient simply to refer to the pedagogic core of distance education as described here, because trends are always developing still further, especially in the theory but to a considerable extent in practice as well. D Randy Garrison (1 993a, 1989, 1985), the Canadian distance-education expert, therefore differentiates between three generations of distance education. The traditional core referred to above is Garrison's first generation, which is not replaced by the second and third generations but continues to have an effect alongside, or in correlation with, these. The second generation is based above all on the possibilities provided by the different versions of teleconferencing. According to Garrison, they have such a great effect on distance education that we should really refer to a new paradigm for it, which itself might be a reason for rethinking and redefining the concept of distance education. At first glance this proposal may appear attractive, because it would mean that more personal communication and academic discourse - something that traditional distance education is lacking - might be combined with second-generation distance education.

However, we must ask ourselves what type this second-generation distance education should be. Here we come up against a fundamental problem of distance-teaching pedagogics, something that we shall be returning to again and again in the following chapters. At this stage, we can restrict ourselves in preparation to a few consequences, for the concept says goodbye to looking after very large groups of students, in other words to the principle of mass higher education, and instead brings together a manageable number of students in a virtual room and makes use of the opportunities of technologically imparted, simultaneous and dynamic dialogues between lecturers and students and amongst the students themselves. Can this be reconciled with the main d'etre of distance education?

The third generation of distance education goes on to integrate the opportunities provided by learning with the help of personal computers, which are able to intensify trends in both the first and the second generation. Firstly, by providing suitable software they can give direction and, through interaction, added value to the self-teaching of the student who is learning in isolation; and they also make databases (including bibliographical databases, in a possible scientific or academic intranet) easily available to help students gain knowledge independently of their teachers. In addition, they can supplement second-generation distance education by means of computer-mediated communication (CMC). From the point of view of the concepts shown here for the first and second generation, the third generation is neutral in terms of pedagogics, which permits distance education even greater flexibility and an enormous potential for change.

Without doubt, because of these trends distance education will considerably alter its pedagogic structure. There is enormous scope for creative pedagogic design opening up in front of us in immeasurable ways. How will this development of design be used? Where will its focal points be? Should further development depend on the contingencies of the 'trial-and-error' method? Or will it be defined by corresponding industrial standards? On the basis of previous experience, educational policy necessities, and educational objectives, would it not be much better if we grew into the phases of the second and third generations with clear pedagogic concepts? Detailed technological knowledge, which many acquire instead of this, is absolutely essential, but does not help us any further in this matter. For this reason, we will have to reclaim the primacy of pedagogics in the further development of distance education.

The concepts of the second and third generation have already had a serious effect on theoreticians and practitioners of distance education and altered their views. For many of them, first-generation distance education already appears antiquated.

1.3 A dilemma

D. Randy Garrison (1 993b), who was mentioned above because of his 'three generations' concept, has also highlighted two conspicuous features of distance education and related them to one another: the particularly high degree of accessibility, and the quality of each interactive learning and teaching process. In this way he has got to the nub of a major distance-learning/teaching problem.

In practice it is true that the greater the accessibility of students to their subject matter (for example, through the use of mass media such as print, radio and television), the greater the number of students and the more sporadic, fragmentary and thinner the direct and indirect interaction between teachers and students. This trend, which can be seen in larger distance-teaching universities, is criticized by several distance-education experts. Their attitude is that it is not sufficient simply to enable students to study in isolation with the help of distance-learning materials: students must be enabled in the first place to discuss with their teachers and other students, because this is the real foundation of academic teaching. This is why their rule of thumb is that the greater the accessibility, the poorer the quality of the studies. This brings educational policy and priorities into conflict with one another; it is characteristic for distance education on the whole and is the source of many disputes.

Garrison himself uses the rule of thumb. For him, a person's own grasp of the acquired and assimilated knowledge can only develop in discussion, whereby additional cognitive processes take place - often spontaneously and therefore not foreseeably, and certainly not empirically comprehensible, which he regards as being imperative for successful learning. He even regards this as the ideal of university teaching.

Consciously, or in part unconsciously, attempts have always been made, when distance-education institutes are being planned, to set up a balance between the degree of accessibility and the type and quality of the teaching-related dialogues being constructed. Distance universities that focus on guided self-study maintain study centres in which optional or obligatory seminars, tutorials, individual and group counselling can take place, and they also arrange study weeks at another university (eg the UlCs Open University summer schools, or the weekend conferences held by the FemUniversi6t Hagen at the University of Oldenburg). Distance-education institutes that focus on face-to-face events make efforts to maintain carefully (and expensively) prepared study documents, and often make use of the help of experts in appropriate centres. In this way, different combinations are created, which group themselves around two ideal models.

One grouping is formed around the model that uses most funds and most effort for the professional development and production of qualitatively excellent teaching materials for the purposes of self-study, which are then distributed by post or other methods. No particular value is placed on attendance phases, although they are not dispensed with completely. The distance-teaching university of South Africa may serve as an example here: in the 1970s this university sent out a quarter of a million printed lectures each year but did not establish a single study centre.

The contrary model is exemplified by the distance teaching at the Radio and Television University in China, which provides for compulsory attendance for 24 hours each month in group lessons in a 'television class' in which the students discuss lectures broadcast by radio and television with a leader and several tutors. In fact, we should definitely refer to consultation studies in the countries of the former Eastern European communist bloc, in which the proportion of attendance events was relatively high, and in the former GDR amounted to as much as one-fifth of the courses to be taken at traditional universities, while printed course materials played a relatively subordinate role. Consultation studies can also be found in Vietnam. The proportion of a course requiring student attendance is therefore the cornerstone of this model. Many supporters of the first model in fact ask rather pointedly whether the second approach is distance education at all.

An interesting task for distance-teaching pedagogics might be to make clear through theoretical and experimental work whether - and if so where - the pedagogic optimum can be found between these two extremes. However, the local environment would have to be taken into account because the optimum articulation in teaching is naturally influenced by the dominant culture of learning found in traditional universities in each country. Universities that regard students as individuals to whom they grant the greatest freedom in the choice of and attendance at lectures, and which have not developed special additional counselling measures, have abso- lutely nothing against favouring the first model described above. In contrast, universities will favour the second model if their teaching takes place mainly in classes in which, it is claimed, the central point of teaching for both teachers and students is the class discussion, and in which the tradition of tutoring still has an effect. Similarly, universities in countries in which, for ideological reasons, the collective takes precedence before the individual are also likely to operate according to the second model.

A combination of increased accessibility and improved quality through greater stress on face-to-face phases can be achieved if a university decides not only to offer traditional studies and distance studies simultaneously (a 'dual mode'), but also to integrate the two types, which has taken place in several Australian universities.

1.4 The student

As we have already seen, those taking part in distance education are a special group. They differ from students in traditional universities because they are usually older adults. On average they are in their thirties, but it must be said that there is hardly ever an upper age limit - for example, a 68 year-old former teacher recently received her doctorate at the FernUniversitat. The higher average age alters the pedagogic starting position as against traditional universities primarily in the following ways:

All these together show that we are dealing with a type of student for distance education who differs in several ways from the norm of those attending a campus-based university. In fact, the differences are so great that it is unreasonable validly to compare distance students with students at traditional universities. We are therefore faced with a primary learning and teaching problem. Should we offer these students the same teaching as in traditional universities? Or should we take into account their age, their greater experience of life and employment, their different motivational situation, and even their double or triple load of studies, job and family? Put bluntly, should we develop a learning and teaching programme tai- lored to their special needs? Is it essential to plan and establish adult studies? Every educationalist will answer these questions with a 'yes'. It is quite natural that teaching is developed with regard to students in their special situations. But how this is done is then a complicated problem that also has pedagogic aspects.

The demand for the adaptation of studies to the special requirements of adults in employment has an unusual explosive effect in a distance-teaching university, because most university teachers reject it from the start. Why? Their attitude is connected to their academic socialization in traditional universities. As Schulmeister (1 983: 350) makes clear, traditional university education has primarily laid claim to a scientific approach to teaching, assuming that students are capable of learning, and has undervalued (or even ignored) the educational aspects. Expository teaching processes were the most suitable for this method.

The primacy of this 'scientific' approach to teaching was internalized by university teachers and created an attitude among them that there was only one form of teaching, which arises from the relevant research. This form of teaching must in principle be the same for all students. And in their opinion the reception of teaching and the acquisition of the corresponding knowledge is a matter for the students. This means that preparatory instruction has a low value, learning aids are not provided, and no concessions are made. Because in addition these university teachers deliberately teach in a science-oriented and teacher-oriented manner, they hold this viewpoint out of conviction. For this reason, adapting teaching to the different starting situation of older students and where necessary providing help for them to overcome learning difficulties specific to distance education does not usually enter their minds. For example, they find it difficult to plan greater occupational or practical references for distance students, to name just two dimensions of necessary adjustment.

This attitude can be seen in the FernUniversitat as well. Help for students to overcome learning difficulties specific to distance education has therefore been developed to a slight extent only, or for some courses is not even available. The expository teaching process that dominates in traditional universities remains in place, in compliance with the wishes of the university's teachers. With great commitment they concentrate on developing printed distance-teaching units, but reject improved counselling and active support for students learning under particularly stressful or limiting local conditions; and if they do provide support, they do so halfheartedly. How students acquire knowledge is on the whole left to them, and this applies in the FernUniversitat as well as other traditional universities. In the face of this startling situation, we can hardly expect student-oriented teaching at the FernUniversitat. Most of the university's teachers would regard this as an undesirable school-like structuring of university teaching and would be greatly concerned about their academic dignity.

In this extremely difficult situation, the pedagogics of distance teaching has the task of making clear how learning and teaching can be adult-oriented and distance education-oriented, at the same time without losing any of its scientific character.

1.4. / Adult-oriented teaching

Distance education can be adult-oriented if some of the principles of adult education pedagogics are taken into account that place the participants in the foreground from the very start. They can show the degree of activation, application and empathy on the part of teachers that is regarded as desirable, and the important part played by the subjectivity, identity and autonomy of adult students -who, after all, are the crucial element in the process. if we succeeded in transferring just a hint of this attitude to distance education, we would have achieved something.

A look at the pedagogics of vocational training can also be stimulating, in particular as distance students are also found in this area as jobholders. The problem of adult-oriented learning (see Lipsmeier, 1991: 131) is familiar here as well and students' psycho-social situation is taken into account, identity-supporting forms of learning are preferred, and teaching contents are derived from existing vocational experience. And not only this: for some time, experts have referred to a 'changed learning culture' in which students in employment receive not only knowledge but also 'methodological and social competence' (Arnold, 1995- 303). In addition, a great deal of value is placed on the development of the students 'personalities.' These aims cannot be achieved solely through the method of the presentation and reception of neutral knowledge.

1.4.2 Distance education-oriented teaching

Learning and teaching is distance education-oriented if it takes account of the special conditions of the world in which distance students live and of the special conditions appertaining to distance teaching.

There are some interesting examples of this at the FernUniversitat. Where topics for degree theses in the faculties of electrical engineering, computer science and economics are selected from the students' own working areas, students can capitalize on their own working experience. The vocational orientation of courses cannot be any more intensive. And where additional teaching software is developed in the computer technology department and supplied on disks containing training programs that help students when they have difficulties working through the teaching texts, this support is certainly distance education-oriented.

With distance education-oriented teaching, students must be continuously motivated, guided during studies they have planned and organized themselves, stimulated to communicate and cooperate formally and informally with fellow students, and, with the help of a differentiating counselling system, must be observed, addressed individually, and taken seriously. This is not possible without work in the study centres. And it is not only necessary to make learning more effective but also to intensify the degree of academic socialization, which is considerably less than in traditional universities, because it has to maintain its ground alongside vocational socialization (Miller, 1991: 50).

The special sociographical preconditions for students studying by distance learning are important for academic teaching and should not be neglected when planning, developing and evaluating this teaching method.

1.5 Three types of operating mode within institutions

Whether a university is planned and developed from the very start exclusively for distance education (single mode), whether a traditional university also provides distance teaching (dual mode), or whether a university provides several forms of studying parallel to one another and leaves it up to students to use these forms in accordance with their own needs and opportunities (mixed mode), these are all operating modes that are in general decided upon through the criteria being set in educational policies and planning, higher educational or institutional and professional policies, and organizations and logistics. The pedagogical advantages or disadvantages are treated as secondary factors. Nevertheless, the pedagogical structure of distance education is different in each of these three institutional types, and this quite naturally has an effect on the processes of learning and teaching.

In fact, specific questions relating to distance-teaching pedagogics result from the different forms of the institutionalization, and these must be borne in mind. Put simply, three very different attitudes towards distance education and towards the expected learning and teaching behaviour may be combined here.

Many students take part in single-mode distance education, as practised in the larger distance and open universities. In fact, some of these universities have hundreds of thousands of students. Students are more or less left to their own devices because the counselling systems are insufficient. The type of distance students who work through their courses at home, separated from the university and isolated from teachers and fellow students, is the norm here. Guided self-study is characteristic of this type of learning and teaching.

The learning and teaching behaviour at a dual-mode university (such as those that have been developed in Australia, for example) is totally different. Here, only as many students are admitted to courses as can be taught in the respective classes. This means that the number of students is low. Their contact with the teachers who are responsible for them and with the university is closer and less likely to be broken off because they have to attend teaching events at the university on a regular basis. According to this concept, external students also 'attend' classes at the university, but at arm's length by making use of lecture notes, tapes and other teaching materials. The decisive pattern here is indirect attendance at teaching events in a traditional university. From the point of view of pedagogics, this is a fundamentally different concept. Another form of distance education will be created in universities of the future, which will provide both face-to-face and distance teaching and make greater use of networked electronic information and communications media (mixed-mode universities). Such universities will be able to react extremely flexibly to the require- ments of students, including adult students of any age. The dominant pedagogic pattern here will be autonomous, self-guided learning, in which students will decide whether they wish to make use of teaching offers available through various media and will use the considerable latitude on the basis of their own strategies - from intensive social contact in a small tutorial through to self-guided studies in a digital learning environment and the exchange of experience with other students using CMC and a network.

The task of distance-teaching pedagogics would be to examine these structurally extremely different types of distance education to discover their advantages and disadvantages, to describe the pedagogic guiding principles, traditions, conventions and ideologies behind them, and to analyse and compare the respective dominant learning and teaching strategies. However, they should certainly not be presented in an abstract form and with a purely theoretical intention; on the contrary, it will be necessary to interpret them in their respective historico-cultural context. The results to be achieved here could act as a catalyst in the expected process of the integration of methods of traditional university teaching and distance teaching.

1.6 Summary

Most authors who attempt to explain the phenomenon of distance education see the main characteristic as being the spatial separation of teachers and students and derive their fundamental concepts from this factor. This makes an infrastructural, and therefore fundamentally external, factor the starting point for efforts to determine the nature of distance education. Here I have attempted to describe distance education using the categories of pedagogics. The results show the following decisive peculiarities which distinguish distance education from traditional university teaching:

Those who maintain in the face of the above that there are no essential differences between distance education and traditional university teaching are not thinking pedagogically but following different agenda. As the examples used and explained in this chapter show, distance-teaching pedagogics must be concerned with solving problems of its own nature which are not found in other combinations of teaching and studying. From the point of view of pedagogics, distance education is in fact a form of learning and teaching sui generis. For this reason, solving outstanding problems of distance-teaching pedagogics will have to be carried out with special theoretical approaches, interpretations, concepts and experience.