Online education books

Reflections after 25 years with online teaching

During the fall of 1987, I developed and taught my first online course for NKI Nettstudier. As far as I know, it was the very first online distance education course in Europe. To celebrate the 25th aniversary, we have now scanned and uploaded the first English report Torstein Rekkedal and I wrote about our pioneering experiences wich is titled The Electronic College: Selected articles from the Ekko project. You may also be interested in the very first article I wrote for an international journal in 1987: In Search of a Virtual School.

More articles in Norwegian and Englis are also available at

Since I now design and teach the first courses for Campus NooA, I have made the following reflections about the developments during these 25 years:

The ICT systems have continuously become faster and more powerful. The most important breakthrough for online education came with the web in the middle of the nineties. The second most important development was the proliferation of the learning management systems. Later, open educational resources and social media became increasingly more important for learning. It is also important to point out that the technology gradually has become more mobile and wireless. However, the most significant difference is that very few people were online in 1987. Now, almost everybody is online – all the time.

There has been a lot of focus on technology and digital learning resources, but I will speak up for people who suceed in utilizing the systems well. Learning platforms are important, but I will argue that it is more important how we implement and use the systems. Well organized models, effective student and teacher support, quality content and teachers who really care about their students – are crucial for high quality online education.

Maybe this is why online pedagogy hasn’t changes so much as I expected 25 years ago. The classroom metaphores and mindsets are still too strong. E-mail and online discussion forums are still central elements in online courses and the teacher workload remains high. The students get too litle flexibility, especially regarding individual start and progression. At the same time, they want swift and insightfull feedback from teachers and support personnel. As far as I can see, we have not improved much in these areas during the last 25 years. I therfore urge online educators to focus on how we can organize online education better, for the benefit of all the excellent and hard working online students and teachers.