Blended Learning and Online Tutoring: Planning Learner Support and Activity Design by Janet MacDonald

Reviewed by Bob Little

Janet MacDonald’s book offers advice on strategies for successful blended learning programmes – dealing, among other things, with synchronous and asynchronous tutoring, assessment design and the professional development of ‘distance tutors’. This further addition to the growing wealth of books on blended learning has the benefit of being written not by a ‘pundit’ but by someone with first-hand experience of being both a distance learner and tutor – and whose doctorate was on online course design and assessment.

Those who like their theory augmented by insights into reality will be delighted at the examples and comments from students and practitioners in both distance and campus-based learning environments, drawn from thirteen countries. As with all books on ‘leading edge’ technologies, this book has had to be updated from its 2006 first edition to take account of Web 2.0 technologies – such as blogs and wikis – and their application to the online learning environment. While this is to be applauded, potential purchasers could easily experience qualms that, with the rapid advancement of technology, even this new edition of the book is likely to look outdated relatively soon. However, this book provides a valid snapshot of issues in the online learning world last year – when, no doubt, the updated text was written.