International Summit on distance and open learning

Published 28 February 2011

dehubAcademics from 18 countries met in Sydney earlier this month to discuss and demonstrate cutting-edge ideas in distance education.

The inaugural Education 2011 to 2021 International Summit was organised by the collaborative Distance Education Hub (DEHub) led by the University of New England, and the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia (ODLAA).

The distinguished Australian educationist Professor Denise Bradley AC and UNESCO’s Chair in e-learning, Professor Rory McGreal from Athabasca University (Canada’s Open University), were among the 230 participants.

Keynote speakers included Professor Terry Anderson and Dr Mohamed Ally from Athabasca University, Professor Gráinne Conole from the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University in the UK, Phil Ice, Director of Course Design, Research and Development in the American Public University System, Professor Diana Laurillard from the London Knowledge Lab, and Professor Olaf Zawacki-Richter from Oldenburg University in Germany. Professor Anderson spoke about “emerging technologies for enhancing distance education pedagogies”, and Professor Laurillard spoke about “the critical role of the teacher in optimising technologies for open learning”.

The event ran for four days (15-18 February), and the presentations, seminars, workshops, and debates were grouped under three themes: anticipating the future, quality issues, and virtual worlds. Each of the DEHub partner institutions (the University of New England, Charles Sturt University, the University of Southern Queensland, Central Queensland University, and New Zealand’s Massey University) ran workshops with a focus on leadership and change.

“Key areas that remain ripe for collaboration and future research centre on strategies  for educating and influencing senior policy makers, government ministers, and institutional leaders about the benefits of open and distance education,” said UNE’s Professor Tynan, the Director of DEHub.

Professor Tynan said she and her team were “delighted that delegates thought it was an outstanding event”. For example, Trish Treagus from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council said that the Summit had been “one of the best organised and most interesting conferences” she had been to.

The Summit was part of DEHub’s program of activities – a program funded by a grant from the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. The second Summit is planned for February 2013.

Clicking on the image displayed here reveals a photograph taken during the DEHub Pre-Summit meeting  at UNE on February 10 and 11. The people in the photograph are:

Front row (left to right): Professor Rory McGreal UNESCO’s Chair in e-learning, from Athabasca University, Canada; Professor Belinda Tynan, Director of DEHub, UNE; Professor Stella Porto from University of Maryland University College, USA; Professor Annabelle Duncan, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), UNE; Associate Professor Anne Forster from University of Maryland University College, USA.

Centre row (left to right): Dr Josep Maria Duart Montoliu from Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain; Professor Jim Barber, Vice-Chancellor, UNE; Professor Maria Collebechi, from Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina; Dr Mpine Makoe, Institute for Open and Distance Learning, University of South Africa.

Back row (left to right): Professor Thomas Huelsmann from Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Germany; Professor Terry Anderson from Athabasca University, Canada; Dr Don Olcott, formerly of the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE), USA; Professor Graham Webb, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), UNE.