The Long Journey of Distance Learning From Fringe to Mainstream




distance learning, online learning, history, Aotearoa New Zealand, DEANZ, FLANZ


Following the widespread adoption of distance and flexible learning techniques during the COVID-19 pandemic, some aspects of open, flexible, and distance learning were incorporated into mainstream teaching. This brings the long history of distance learning from the fringe into the daylight of modern mainstream education. In acknowledgement of this change, this special issue of the journal looks back at the history and development of distance learning from the pages of the journal. Also included, for the first time, is a history of distance learning in New Zealand entwined with its professional association—the Flexible Learning Association of New Zealand (FLANZ), formerly the Distance Education Association of New Zealand (DEANZ). Seven reprinted articles covering aspects of the history of distance learning complete the issue.

Author Biographies

Alison Fields, Infosolutions Ltd

Alison is an information scientist and Director of Research at InfoSolutions. She conducts research in health information, and contracts in the education sector. She is a fellow of the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) and has a Doctorate in Education. Her research areas encompass elearning, online learner support, health information, library services, and continuing professional development. Alison is an executive member of FLANZ and joint Editor of the Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning.

Simon Paul Atkinson,

Simon is a higher education strategist with over 25 years’ experience as an academic developer, educational technologist, teacher, and researcher. He has held senior leadership roles in both the United Kingdom and Aotearoa New Zealand and has lectured and presented in over 15 countries, as well as online to global audiences. He has a Doctorate in Museum Studies (Adult Education) and is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He is also joint Editor of the Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning.