An interesting book I've just finished reading: Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education: Foundations for Success, by A.W. (Tony) Bates and Gary Poole.
The book is both a theoretical and a practical guide to many aspects of online learning as it currently exists. I like it first for its open-minded approach to the foundations of learning (Part I); for example, it avoids dogmatic obeisance to a single theory or philosophy of learning and instead acknowledges that a variety of methods may be appropriate and work well in different situations.
If ... different approaches to learning need to be used in different contexts, we have to be careful to identify relevant approaches for specific learning tasks and groups of students, and then analyze how technology could be used to meet those needs. (p. 35)
The book also acknowledges the role of faculty as teachers in the design of online courses, and not merely as "content providers", an issue I've written about elsewhere.
Although we are both faculty facilitators, we deeply believe that the best ideas about how to teach a subject come from professors with a deep understanding of the subject matter. Our role has been to help colleagues see the potential of technology for their teaching, but the true test of good teaching is the extent to which it enlightens and challenges students, and this has to come from subject experts. (p. xviii)
There's much more - the book is a treasure trove of common sense. I like particularly that it is experience-based: its "best practices" are indeed practices and not, as is so often the case elsewhere, "best theories". (In my book, experience trumps theory any day.) It's a refreshing change from much earlier work on technology-based education, which often seemed more intent on portraying webspace as the ideal venue for the particular author's favourite educational theory than on actually building exemplars there. Few of those writers bothered much about concrete implementation details, bringing to mind the oft-quoted statement that "vision without implementation is hallucination". Both authors of this book, however, have extensive practical experience in actually implementing online learning, and are able to synthesize that experience coherently and readably. Combined with their ability to relate their experience to a multifaceted perspective on the theoretical foundations of teaching and learning, that makes for a very satisfying read.