Editorial: Back to the Future—Predicting Possibilities in Open, Flexible, and Distance Learning


  • Maggie Hartnett Massey University
  • Niki Davis University of Canterbury
  • Alison Fields OpenPolytechnic




futures, scenarios, initial teacher education, cultural dimensions, professional inquiry, social media, blended learning, online learning


In 2010 Ako Aotearoa, the national centre for tertiary teaching excellence, prompted DEANZ, our national association for open, flexible, and distance learning, to look towards the future in 2016. Reminiscent of the 1985 movie Back to the Future, the scenario set produced foresaw a range of practices in Aotearoa New Zealand. Papers in this issue describe and illustrate the scenario set and related trends. These include our increasing cultural diversity and adoption of social media to offer more learner-centred education that also increases engagement with employers, professions, and iwi. A review of Dron and Anderson’s (2014) book supports our view of the trends and is recommended to readers.

Author Biographies

Maggie Hartnett, Massey University

Maggie is a senior lecturer in the Institute of Education at Massey University, New Zealand, where she teaches in the areas of e-learning and digital technologies. Her research interests include motivation and engagement in digital environments, teaching and learning with digital technologies, electronic portfolios, support for digital learners, digital places, and spaces of learning. Maggie is an executive member of DEANZ and an Associate Editor of the Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning.

Niki Davis, University of Canterbury

Niki is Distinguished Professor of e-Learning and Director of the e-Learning Lab in the University of Canterbury College of Education, Health and Human Development in Christchurch, New Zealand. In addition to researching e-learning in teacher education and professional development, Niki teaches and researches about change with digital technologies in education and related areas of scholarship. Niki is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning.

Alison Fields, OpenPolytechnic

Alison is a senior lecturer at the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand where she teaches Information and Library Studies. She also sits on the Professional Registration Board of the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA). Her research areas encompass e-learning, library services, and continuing professional development. She is currently enrolled in EdD studies at the University of Otago. Alison is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning.