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Distances et Savoirs

A cessé de paraître en 2012

 ARTICLE VOL 7/4 - 2009  - pp.533-536

This special issue of Distances et Savoirs (D&S) has been planned as a contribution to the celebration of the journal’s seventh birthday. On behalf of the American Journal of Distance Education, (AJDE) now in its 24th year, and also the many American scholars that AJDE represents, I extend our warmest congratulations to everyone who has contributed to D & S achieving what editor Martine Vidal has described as “l’âge de raison”. We extend congratulations especially to Martine, and also to members of the editorial board, the journal’s staff and all those who have had their articles published over the past seven years. As editor of The American Journal of Distance Education I am especially pleased to have observed the success of a new journal of high quality in our field, where there has been such a proliferation of inferior electronic journals, (most of which, incidentally, disseminate articles that have previously been evaluated and rejected by mainstream journals like ours). Having existed for decades on the margins of the educational establishment, distance education today faces a new and unfamiliar threat, coming from the uncritical explosion in popularity in the idea of learning at a distance, resulting from the Web generation’s exuberance with technology. This is manifested in another explosion, that of innumerable hastily designed courses delivered in unsuitably structured systems, taught by instructors who are usually inadequately trained who have to struggle to compensate for the inadequacies inherent in their institution’s systems. More than ever before, the times call for research that will guide practice, research of quality that can only come if it is grounded in sound theory. That, in turn, demands academic journals that have editors and staff with the competence to discriminate between what is well grounded and what is not. The problem that is all too familiar to those of us who teach about distance education, is how to enable our students to know how to discriminate what is valid and reliable information among the vast deluge of information available online, most of which is of dubious value and validity. The birth and growth of Distances et Savoirs places a significant weight on the more positive side of this struggle between reliability and unreliability, and on the side of better understanding of what is expected in good quality research. For it is worth emphasising that as well as an explosion of poor research, there has also been growth in research that is of better quality, research that has made positive additions to the theory of distance learning, teaching and learning, management and policy. Where there has been such improvements much of the credit can be attributed to the leadership and the stimulus that has been provided by the principal scholarly journals, providing as they do, a reservoir and flow of information that is both trustworthy and carefully modulated in its claims in what is too often a field of hyperbole and misinformation.




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