This paper defines and examines three generations of distance education pedagogy. Unlike earlier classifications of distance education based on the technology used, this analysis focuses on the pedagogy that defines the learning experiences encapsulated in the learning design. The three generations of cognitive-behaviourist, social constructivist, and connectivist pedagogy are examined, using the familiar community of inquiry model (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000) with its focus on social, cognitive, and teaching presences. Although this typology of pedagogies could also be usefully applied to campus-based education, the need for and practice of openness and explicitness in distance education content and process makes the work especially relevant to distance education designers, teachers, and developers. The article concludes that high-quality distance education exploits all three generations as determined by the learning content, context, and learning expectations.
- distance education theory