UNESCO IITE participated in the 26th ICDE World Conference “Growing Capacities for Sustainable E-Learning Provision” organized in a partnership between the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) and University of South Africa (Unisa). The conference – the first of its kind in Africa – brought together 900 experts, academics and practitioners from 67 countries. The conference addressed the sustainability, character and nature of ODL practice in the 21st century in the context of increasing demands for access, decreasing state resources and growing concern about the quality of provision. It was focused on the sustainability of the ODL philosophy with respect to access, flexibility and student-centeredness.
The conference included pre-conference workshops, provided a platform for panel discussions and parallel sessions, and keynotes by highly respected keynote speakers, including Audrey Watters, Laura Czerniewicz, Joyce Seitzinger, Aziza Ellozy, Mandla Makhanya, Wayne Mackintosh and Harold Jarche, to share their diverse views and innovative approaches to teaching and learning in an ODL environment.
One of the pre-conference workshops – “Access, equity and quality: Envisioning the sustainable future of postsecondary education in a digital age” – was organized by UNESCO IITE. The session started with an introductory speech of Dr. Svetlana Knyazeva about UNESCO IITE, its main activities and the project “Envisioning the sustainable future of postsecondary education in the digital age”, including the survey. The survey deals with the issues of validation and credentialing of learning results and open educational resources; curriculum and institutional change and teacher development. UNESCO IITE expert Mr. Victor van Rij (University of Amsterdam) followed up with an explanation of the foresight approach of the project and moderated discussion of the most urgent questions selected by the audience. The participants expressed their satisfaction with the outcomes of the workshop, some remarked that there is certainly a need to have more in depth discussion in South Africa about the future of education also with respect of the ICT related to ODL, the foresight methods used seem suitable to do this.
In parallel with and at the same venue as the 26th ICDE World Conference the Presidents’ Summit for senior managers and leaders in higher education institutions was held to concentrate particularly on opportunities and challenges in leadership and governance in higher education.
A doctoral consortium that specifically targeted support to doctoral students provided a space for constructive feedback from prominent scholars, and helped to facilitate new networks of young researchers.
More information about the Conference is available at UNISA website.
The next ICDE Conference will be held in 2017 in Toronto, Canada.