Butts, David, 1920-2016, teacher, radio and television producer, educational technologist

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Butts, David, 1920-2016, teacher, radio and television producer, educational technologist

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David Butts joined Jordanhill College of Education as Director of Educational Television in 1966, following a spell in teaching, and later with the BBC Schools’ Service.

He began by designing a television studio at Jordanhill, as well as in classrooms and on location, and he and his producers were soon developing programmes - an output which College lecturers built into their teaching. These programmes were also sent, via cable, from Jordanhill to the Glasgow Educational Television Service in Bath Street for onward transmission to Glasgow schools – where they were used for in-service training of teachers. The programmes won many national awards.

David realised the need for a strategy to develop the use of audio-visual methods in education. For this, he turned to the relatively new discipline of educational technology, which used a ‘systems approach’ to teaching and learning.

In 1969, David organised an international conference on educational technology in Glasgow which established Jordanhill’s reputation as a leader in the field and his own standing as an educational thinker and innovator.

By this time, his strategy for audio-visual developments within the college had led him to set up practical courses for students in the use of audio-visual technology in the classroom. The department’s name soon changed from Television Unit to Audio-Visual Media Department to reflect that wider role.

In 1976, David started to develop a post-graduate Diploma in Educational Technology for serving teachers, lecturers, librarians and trainers. In order to accommodate peoples’ working patterns, David planned that the course be delivered by distance learning, a technique pioneered by the Open University which had started in 1972. The course started in 1978 and was delivered via weekly course booklets with built-in student activities and feedback, slides, audio tapes and very early experiments with telephone audio-conferencing. Tutorials and the practical elements of the course were delivered at regular weekends and Easter and Summer schools in College. The course was subsequently validated by the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA), the body which enabled University level degrees and diplomas to be awarded by colleges and polytechnics. He also initiated a Diploma in Media Education aimed at both students and teachers and lecturers.

In 1980, he retired from Jordanhill and moved to the University of Stirling, to teach and to do research work in Media Education - as well as taking on an evaluation role in a collaborative project of the University in teacher education. As a result of that body of work in media and educational technology, David was awarded an OBE in 1983 for services to education.

David continued to teach media studies at the University of Stirling and attend conferences until his retirement in 1996 at the age of 77.


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Jordanhill College of Education, Glasgow (1907-1993)

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Butts was the Director of Educational Television at the College.

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Jordanhill College of Education, Glasgow | Audio Visual Media

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GB 249

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ISAAR(CPF): International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2003); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).


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Created by Carol Stewart, April 2023.




Information supplied by Susan Butts, daughter of the late David Butts.

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