A surrogate teacher is something which has the role of teacher. For instance, when instructional radio was introduced in 1932 in the USA, it was described as The Assistant Teacher. Television had a similar role when Samoa was faced with a teacher shortage. In the 1960s, between a quarter and a third of the Samoan school day was spent watching televised lessons and the remaining time was given to activities based on them (Cuban, 1986). Australia and New Zealand have supported education in remote communities in similar ways (Teather, 1989). Distance learning systems tend to be, in effect, teachers for those who must learn at home. These systems can include a wide range of learning aids such as video recordings, computer-based instruction and textual materials to provide what Kaye (1989) has called a ‘guided didactic conversation’. Thinking of such materials as surrogate teachers can point the way to making them
effective. However, as with all analogies, it has its limits. These depend on the nature of the surrogate but some deficiencies may be overcome with support from a live teacher. In effect, the teacher and surrogate act in concert although the teacher usually has overall responsibility for who does what. In practice, surrogate teachers can have a very significant role, particularly in independent learning and amongst older students (Newton, D., 1993a). In this chapter, text will be used to exemplify the surrogate teacher analogy and illustrate how it could support understanding. The analogy, however, does not capture all that information and communication technology may offer and other aspects of ICT are also discussed.