Teaching and learning practice in distance education has evolved over the last century, depending upon the ingenuity of teachers and the technologies available to them.

  • Introduction

    No matter the changes in the tools of teaching and learning, positive relationships between teacher, students and parents have always been the essential ingredient. As our enrolments have expanded and our cohort has evolved to include school-based students in partner schools, positive, caring relationships remain at the core of what we do.
  • Teacher, student and parent relationships

    Teacher, student and parent relationshipsTeacher, student and parent relationships
    Mr Eakins, the first Headmaster of the Correspondence School reflected on the importance of positive relationships during the early days of distance education. He wrote “The key to success in correspondence work for primary children is the friendly personal relationships which grow up between teacher, pupils and parents.”

    (The WA Correspondence School: its earliest years, 1964)
  • Working with parents

    Jenny discusses the important role of parents as Home Tutors of primary students in distance education. She compares the 1970s with the 2000s.
  • Support to students in regional areas

    Pam Clarke talks about the crucial role of school-based supervisors and parents in distance education especially those she met in regional areas in the 1990s and 2000s.
  • Relationships with a remote community

    Student Coordinator Gay Tierney reflects on her relationship with students and families in a remote community in the Kimberley.
  • Teacher relationship with parents

    Erin Jones, a parent of two overseas based students comments on the importance of teacher relationships with parents.
  • The Correspondence Lessons

    The Correspondence Lessons
    Initially the Curriculum offered through correspondence was limited and lessons to students were handwritten.

    As enrolments increased a hand-operated duplicator was installed and an Education Department typist typed the wax duplicator master with lessons provided by the teachers.

    duplicated lesson

    Duplicated lesson

  • Teaching sets and teacher feedback

    Teaching sets and teacher feedback
    Lessons were organised into fortnightly units of work called ‘sets’. These were posted to students rolled up in white wrappers like a newspaper to prevent creasing of the lessons. Students were expected to complete work in the fortnight and return it wrapped in a roll. All the teacher feedback was received by students as comments on their work or in handwritten letters from the teachers. Students also had to correct their work after teacher feedback and re-submit it; a long process through the post!

    Shared stories:
    Lukis family (Arithmetic)
    Mary West (wrappers)
  • School camps - Educational tours

    School camps - Educational tours
    In the 1920s camps took place for the first time but these were rare events until the 1970s. A boys' tour took place in 1926 followed by a girls' tour in 1928.

    09 Mar 1928 - A HOLIDAY CAMP. - Trove

    Boys camp

  • ABC School Broadcasts

    ABC school broadcasts meant that the Correspondence School students could listen to their teachers speaking on the radio across the state, focussing on specific lessons related to the students' curriculum.

    duplicated lesson

    Sample Scripts for an ABC School Broadcast

    Read Anita's story.
  • Itinerant teachers

    Itinerant teachers
    Itinerant teachers were appointed to remote regions such as the Gascoyne, Pilbara and Kimberley to support students in very remote areas. They visited children in their homes at least once a year, checking their lessons and bringing books and other resources to them.

    Green F A, Itinerant teacher, The Western Mail, 20 December 1956 - Trove

  • Schools of the Air radio lessons

    Schools of the Air radio lessonsSchools of the Air radio lessons

    Second image on mouseover: Susan (Year 4) talking to Miss Boas at Kalgoorlie SOTA, 1968

    In the late 1950s the use of pedal radio was used to enable teachers based in regional towns with Royal Flying Doctor bases, to talk to students directly. Schools of the Air were established initially as part of the WA Correspondence School to provide daily lessons to students in these areas.
  • ISMS, camps and resources

    Throughout the 1970s changes took place in distance education. The Isolated Students Matriculation Scheme, and then the Distance Education Centre developed a model of supporting students through the professional production of materials, regular orientation and other camps, and, regular visits to regional students.

    ISMS audio tape and course booklets

    ISMS audio tape and course booklets

  • Technology: telephones and photocopiers

    Technology: telephones and photocopiers
    Shared and individual telephones became more available in the late 1970s and 1980s so that teachers could phone students and their parents. This was a more rapid way of discussing lessons.

    poetry by students

    Collection of students writing in ISMS during 1976-1977

    The introduction and availability of photocopiers and fax machines allowed teachers to communicate and share student work so that students could see what other students were producing.
  • Print materials with illustrations

    In the video Janet discusses her work as an illustrator at the WA Correspondence School in the late 1970s.

    English print materials

    WACS English print materials with illustrations

    Sets became professionally produced and artists were employed to create illustrations. While the production and delivery of print materials changed over time, sending print lessons was common in teaching and learning resources into the 2000s.
  • Videos and interactive TV broadcasts

    Videos and interactive TV broadcasts
    Videos were sometimes produced by individual teachers. 1980s lesson content was broadcast state-wide on regional television channels.

    Telling the time

    Telling the Time

    Watch videos from our archives.
  • Resource kits

    In the late 1970s sets and lesson materials began to be sent in batches so that instead of sending a two-week set for each subject, a term or semester’s work would be sent in one parcel.

    Audio and video tapes and science laboratory equipment supplemented print resources in resource kits sent to students. They were gradually replaced by online resources and activities in the 2000s.

    Resource Kit

    Kits for a number of subjects

  • Regional visits and camps

    Regional visits became commonplace.

    Regional visit

    Thundalarra Station Mini Camp

    Lower Secondary School Camp

    Lower Secondary School Camp in the Goldfields

  • Telematics

    The advent of new technology had a significant impact on distance education, especially in the teaching of languages. Telematics incorporated an early Apple Macintosh computer and a hands-free telephone to deliver language lessons to students in regional schools. For the first time, whole classes could interact with their teachers in real time.

    Telematics room Parburdoo Japanese Crop

    Telematics classroom

  • Interactive TV

    In the late 1990’s, four live television programs were produced each week from the SIDE studio. These broadcasts allowed students to see and interact with their teachers. Each episode included roleplays and cultural information, and incorporated video and special guests. Students viewing in schools could interact by phoning in and participating in quizzes.

    Michael on set

    Interactive statewide TV broadcast on Japanese lesson

    Watch videos from our archives.
  • Regional visits and student camps

    Activities such as regional visits and student camps continued during this period.

    Tyre change during regional trip

    Tyre change near Meekatharra (Auguest 1991)

  • Information technology

    The emergence of widely available information technology meant opportunities for teachers and students to engage in regular real-time lessons, and for students to access courses at any time, day or night.
  • Video conferencing

    Video conferencingVideo conferencing
    Video conferencing allowed Languages teachers to work with larger classes in partner schools and see their students whilst doing so.

    Digital video conferencing is still used to deliver Indonesian language lessons to primary schools in the Pilbara.
  • SatWeb

    SatWeb, a computing and Internet initiative in the early 2000s, enabled teachers to communicate on a regular basis with students using a satellite connection and simple conferencing software. Students could only talk to other SatWeb users and required a satellite dish to participate.

    Teacher and student in lesson using SatWeb

    Teacher and student in lesson using SatWeb

    Read more about SatWeb.
  • Web based classroom - Saba

    Internet-based web-conferencing platform Centra (later called Saba Classroom) was introduced in 2007. For the first time, all students could participate in real-time lessons using vision, sound, text and shared ‘whiteboards’.

    Students participating in Saba classroom

    Students participating in Saba classroom

    Teachers upload lesson materials and conduct lessons with students across Australia and the world. Distance education is no longer isolated education. Students form peer groups, collaborate and interact like students in any school.
  • E-Learning system

    E-Learning system
    Developed by former School of the Air student Martin Dougiamas, the world-leading Moodle virtual classroom was adopted in 2009. Learning materials and activities, assignments and tests are all accessed by students in a safe, authenticated environment. More than just a place to exchange documents, Moodle provides a complete suite of tools for 24x7 online teaching and learning, and has helped transform SIDE into an ‘eSchool’.
  • The changes

    Jonathan reflects on changes from correspondence to online learning.
  • Eyes on the prize

    Distance education is constantly evolving, and so are the circumstances of our students. What hasn’t changed throughout the past century is our focus on meeting the needs of learners who may be disadvantaged by isolation and distance.
  • Our students

    2017 students talk about their time at SIDE; memorable moments, the way they were taught, and how SIDE supported their life goals.
  • The future

    Current SIDE Principal Noel Chamberlain discusses the future of distance education.
  • Acknowledgements

    With thanks to the following:

    SIDE Media Production

    Westco Productions Perth

    The many individuals who have provided their stories about distance education by video or text.