Activity Plan 2016

Download the ICDE Activity Plan 2016


The ICDE Executive Committee determines a yearly Activity Plan on the basis of the current Strategic Plan and available budget capacity.
ICDE is a hub for its network of members and cooperating organizations, which means that the organization has a valuable pool of resources and competence. The ICDE Secretariat relies heavily on close collaboration with member institutions to carry out activities and to achieve established goals.
Furthermore, it is imperative that the Secretariat maintains good and fluid relations with key donors to avoid a decrease in funding. The Norwegian Ministry of Education is ICDE’s most significant donor and the organization must therefore ensure that the Norwegian sponsor’s objectives and priorities are fully considered.
An increase in membership and the identification of new funding sources are vital for ICDE to attain the objectives and to carry out the activities described in its Strategic Plan, as well as to provide quality service to its members and to support their initiatives.
ICDE is a non-governmental organization (NGO) having consultative partnership status with UNESCO with which it shares its key aim – the attainment of quality education for all – as stated in UNESCO’s Declaration of Learner’s Rights and Responsibilities. The partnership is important to support shared values and goals and increase chances for having success. Active support for UNESCO’s work has high priority.
ICDE must be perceived as a relevant organization in order to retain existing members and to attract new members. Annual membership driven activities should be organized to increase ICDE’s membership.
ICDE has members in all regions of the world and ICDE must consider intercultural aspects in all activities.
The yearly Activity Plan creates the basis for projects and initiatives that in principle follow the model below: 

Activity plan 2016

Activities, initiatives and projects that are described in the 2016 Activity Plan are activities that are initiated or ongoing in 2016. Initiatives and projects are described in general and may continue over several years. Specific targets, deliverables and resources limited to 2016 are specified where possible.

The structure of the Activity Plan is:
  • N.        Strategic objective
  • N.N.     Specific objective
  • N.N.N.  Action: Project, initiative or activity.
A calendar, a list of projects and the approved budget for 2016 are attached.
The description of actions is brief. More insight on actions may be found on the ICDE website where information on projects and other actions will be published when appropriate and possible, or by directing an enquiry to the ICDE Secretariat.
The ICDE Executive Committee has decided to give high priority to, and have special focus on, the following specific objectives during 2016:
  • Quality, in particular the events in partnership with UNESCO.
  • The Doctoral Consortium, having it established as a project during 2016.
  • The study on Models for online, open, flexible and technology enhanced education.
  • ICDE events in 2016 and 2017, in particular the 27 ICDE World Conference 2017 in Toronto, Canada. 
  • Engage and promote members, in particular by utilizing the new ICDE Community Platform.
  • Coherent and dynamic information and communication to all ICDE stakeholders.
In addition, the ICDE Presidents´ Summit, Sun City, South Africa, in October 2015, discussed priorities for ICDE for the next years, in particular 2016 – 2017, and a number of suggestions were supported:
  • Quality
    • Quality events UNESCO and ICDE
  • Study on Models for online, open, flexible and technology enhanced education
  • Research and Innovation
    • Doctoral Consortium
    • Insight briefs
    • OER chairs
    • Open Praxis (OP)
    • Facilitate collaboration on possible R&I initiatives
  • Leadership
    • Key issue at ICDE Presidents Summits 2016 and 2017. Consider possible initiatives.
  • North – South – South
    • Partnership UNESCO, Teachers, Africa and others
  • Professional development
    • Community of practices
  • ICDE Events
    • Presidents´ Summit 2016 and 2017, 27 ICDE World Conference 2017, International Conference India 2017 and others.
  • Membership and ICDE
    • Consolidation of ICDE – Develop and decide new ICDE Strategic Plan 2017 - 2020
    • Relations international associations
    • ICDE Operational Network
    • Increase membership

Transversal activities

Activities that have impact on several of the strategic objectives in the Strategic Plan are described as transversal activities. 

0.1.          Cooperation between members on research and innovation (R&I)

A Task Force on Research and Innovation undertook a survey and a meta-analysis during 2014 – 2015. The Task Force suggested a number of recommendations for the direction, policy and possible actions regarding research and innovation in its report. The Executive Committee gave its general support for these recommendations to be developed into concrete actions.  The recommendations are:

  • That the survey is conducted bi-annually to update research and innovation themes for foci.
  • That further information be provided through the commissioning of short insight reports to provide guidance, etc. with regards to the prioritised areas such as use of learning analytics, blended learning, staff professional development.
  • That a member of the ICDE Executive become the sponsor of the Research and Innovation Taskforce to:

 1)     Commission insight papers from the membership or from other experts for a fee.

2)     Coordinate the bi-annual running of the survey.

3)     Develop a communication and engagement plan.

4)     Consider possible joint programmes and projects for funding across different regions of the ICDE membership (eg. ICDE Doctoral Consortium).

Based on an initiative from the University of South Africa, UNISA, a Doctoral Consortium was organised during the 26 ICDE World Conference in South Africa, October 2015. The Executive Committee supported the Global Doctoral Consortium initiative concept, and approved for the ICDE Secretariat to establish a dialogue with the relevant partners to launch a Doctoral Consortium during 2016.

Other direct research and innovation related activities are the suggested OER impact study and Open Praxis, ref. 3.1.  

0.2.      Partnership development

Cooperation and partnerships represent a core working method and strategy for ICDE. Facilitating, cultivating and developing competencies in cooperation and partnership in ICDE as a body, and between ICDE members, is a horizontal activity that has impact across all the strategic objectives. ICDE aims for:

  • Maintain and develop relations with UNESCO, the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), the European Union (EU), Commonwealth of Learning (CoL), the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), the Open Education Consortium (OEC), the African Virtual University (AVU), international associations within the field of online, open and flexible education and others.
  • Continue partnership development based on shared values and goals.
  • Increase chances for success through focused partnerships on priority areas.
  • Cultivating competencies in partnering with key stakeholders.
  • Consider and initiate events that provide partnership opportunities for members and relevant institutions and organizations. Events should preferably be linked to ICDE’s existing events.

0.3.      Information and communication

ICDE considers Information and communication as a core priority in its strategic planning exercise (annual Activity Plan).

For 2016 ICDE has launched a new website, including a contact and membership database, new tools for information and communication and tools for membership collaboration and communities. The new website and tools have been branded the ICDE Community Platform. To utilize the Community Platform in broad is a key activity during 2016.

To increase the outreach of ICDE is in the long run critical for the organisation. e.g. through mutually beneficial information and communication partnerships with stakeholders. ICDE will work to identify these key stakeholders (e.g. StudyPortals, international sister organisations), and encourage cross promotion via their digital channels. The measurement for success is the relevance and numbers of partnerships developed and the mutually supporting information and communications work.

ICDE will expand, build on the communications already conducted by the Secretariat and build its international reach to allow for further inclusiveness and accessibility. The ICDE Operational Network will be important in allowing for a more regional and global focus. Ref. the Activity Plan 5.5. ICDE Operational Network – ICDE ON.

To facilitate increased networking, initiatives and activities by individual members and experts together with engaging and promoting members through communities, will be a priority activity in 2016. Chaired by a Executive Committee member elected by individual members, these members are offered an ICDE Community and opportunities to engage. 

Strategic objective 1: To promote the importance of open, distance, flexible, and online education, including e-learning in educational policy.

The global landscape of post-secondary education is in a period of dramatic change, with learning no longer confined to the campus classroom. Global trends towards a more open, online and complex world increases the demand for relevant, clear policies, strategies and leadership at governmental and institutional levels to facilitate the further development of high-quality open, distance, flexible, blended and online learning, including e-learning. Rapid developments in many fields make the need for a global, open space for dialogue, knowledge exchange and discussion ever more urgent.

1.1.      ICDE actively to support members’ and associate members’ participation in promotional activities with the purpose of increasing key stakeholders’ awareness and understanding of the importance of open, distance, flexible, and online education, including e-learning in educational policy. International awareness for quality open, distance and online learning.


  • To increase visibility and recognition of online, open, and flexible learning (ODL), institutions offering ODL and embracing ODL practices, and demonstrate their relevance in modern education.


  • Demonstrate that higher education represents significant value for the individual and society, and in particular through ODL.
  • Promote barrier-free access to higher education and the impact that higher education has on skills development.
  • Create awareness of innovative practices and innovation in ODL, e.g. MOOC, learning analytics and further developments.
  • Engage in the development of MOOCs as a component of online learning development.
  • Create understanding of quality in open, distance and online learning.

1.2.      ICDE together with key partners and stakeholders to facilitate policy discussions among a selection of representatives from governments, universities and public and private sector, on the topic of the current and future development of open, distance, flexible and online education, including e-learning.

The joint ICDE-UNESCO Policy Forum at the ICDE Presidents’ Summit 2014 issued the Bali-message: “Ensure Equitable Quality Education and Lifelong Learning for All by 2030: The Contribution of Open, Online and Flexible Higher Education to the Post-2015 Global Education Agenda”.

The Global High Level Policy Forum organised by UNESCO in partnership with ICDE in Paris June 2015 issued the Paris-Message: “Online, Open and Flexible Higher Education for the Future We Want. From Statements to Action: Equity, Access and Quality Learning Outcomes.” The Paris-Forum suggested a number of actions, addressing governments, institutions, faculty and learners as well as International Governmental, (IGOs), and Non Governmental Organisations, (NGOs).

The High Level Policy Forum in Pretoria, South Africa in October 2016 organised by ICDE in partnership with UNESCO, CoL and OEC, was hosted by UNISA. The forum focused on regional perspectives and issued the Pretoria media release: “How online, open and flexible support learning will support a sustainable future - a call for action”. The Pretoria-Forum suggested input for regional agendas for actions in a number of areas.

ICDE participated in the global events leading up to the decision of the new Sustainable Development goal 4, Education 2030: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Ref. the Incheon and Qingdao declarations and the Education 2030 The Framework For Action. In December 2015, ICDE also participated in and supported specific follow up actions of the Qingdao declaration “Seize digital opportunities, lead education transformation”.

The direction set during this comprehensive process, and the actions suggested on a global and regional level, will be monitored and followed up in collaborations with partners, and also create valuable input and background for the new ICDE Strategic Plan. 

Based on the experiences from two piloting surveys (IDEAL and the Limited Sample Survey) on the take up of online, open and flexible higher education in 2014 – 2015, ICDE will consider developing definitions and standards to have more reliable information and data on the take up, in particular in partnership with UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

Strategic objective 2: To encourage quality in open, distance, flexible and online education, including e-learning

High-quality online, open and flexible education is a core priority for ICDE members, in particular in the current situation with rapid growth in online, open and flexible education, rapid development in methodologies and technologies and disruptive, innovative initiatives with the potential for significant impact on higher education. The global trend seen is an increasing focus on accountability, quality, and performance, and there is a demand for standards, guidelines and accreditation. ICDE has an important role in facilitating knowledge exchange and sharing of good practices to achieve excellence in online, open and flexible learning. ICDE should facilitate members and international associations building upon one another’s achievements. Key stakeholders, e.g. accreditation agencies, should be addressed with criteria and benchmarks for quality, and institutions should be addressed with methodologies and concepts for quality development.

2.1.      To establish an overview of the global situation with regards to existing relevant standards and guidelines for open, distance, flexible, and online education, including e-learning by 2015.

While ICDE in 2015 published a global overview of quality models, several recommendations from that study are to be considered, and at the same time follow up on policy recommendations e.g. from the Paris message regarding quality.

The idea is for UNESCO and ICDE to partner up to organise a number of regional Quality Assurance events in view of organizing a Quality Assurance Summits – tentative for 2018. The overall objective of this activity from an ICDE point of view is to enhance the understanding and facilitate collaboration among key stakeholders for Quality in Online, Open and Flexible Higher education, aiming for having a policy direction – a program of action for each particular region. This action will be a preparatory work and eventually lead to a broad Quality Assurance Summit where online, open and flexible learning will be a component. The idea is in development in partnership with UNESCO.

2.2.      Offer quality reviews as a member service.

2.3.      To launch a best practice database for quality assurance in open, distance, flexible, and online education, including e-learning.

2.4.      Obtain international recognition for best practices in online, open and flexible learning.

2.5.      Brand and develop ICDE on leadership issues - support ICDE members’ leadership and leadership for change.

Strategic objective 3: To support the development of new methodologies and technologies

In a time where online, open and flexible learning is in rapid development, information about emerging technologies and new methodologies should be successfully and periodically communicated to members. ICDE should promote the study of apparent and unpredictable/unprecedented innovations and future disruptions in open, distance, flexible and online education, including e-learning.

ICDE gives priority to promoting Open Educational Resources (OER) through several initiatives and through its members. The expected outcome is increased uptake of OER. Despite the rapid uptake of Internet and mobile technologies, there is a need for increased awareness of the digital divide and steps taken to minimize the divide. Furthermore, ICDE can play an important role in the facilitation of members’ initiatives to increase competence and professional development in distance and online teaching and learning.

Open Praxis will have an important role to support the development of new methodologies and technologies. Open Praxis is now re-established, hosted by Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), Madrid, Spain, and with an international editorial board and reviewers from all over the world. The journal is expected to play a strategic role in supporting academic scholarship, research and innovation among ICDE members and partners. A plan for the Open Praxis as a sustainable quality scientific journal was developed in 2015.

3.1.      Open Praxis to be recognized as a quality scientific journal by 2016.

In 2015 a plan for Open Praxis was developed to serve the purpose for a sustainable quality scientific  journal, to be recognised by 2016.  The ICDE Executive Committee supported the plan and considered the positive development of OP, the landscape of scientific journals in the field, and the plan outlined to define a new vision: Open Praxis as a unique, global, quality, scientific journal.

The huge benefits of Open Praxis as a platinum open access journal should be widely used in the promotion of OP and ICDE.

3.2.      ICDE to take part in one significant Open Educational Resources initiative.

The appointment of three ICDE Chairs, already appointed as UNESCO Chairs in OER, was announced at the 2013 ICDE Standing Conference of Presidents meeting.  An open call for the nomination of additional ICDE Chairs was launched at the end of 2013, resulting in the appointment of two new ICDE Chairs in OER, adding to the already three appointed. A new open call, in particular targeting global south, was launched to contribute to having global balance and distribution of Chairs in OER. Appointment of new ICDE Chairs in OER took place in 2015. 7 ICDE Chairs have been appointed and are now active. The ICDE Chairs for OER network and enhance OER initiatives around the world, supplementing and supporting the UNESCO Chair instrument and initiative for OER.

ICDE is a partner in the project LangOER: Enhance Teaching and Learning of Less Used Languages through OER/OEP. This 3-year project (January 2014- December 2016) is supported by action KA2 Languages of the Lifelong Learning Programme, European Commission. How can less used languages, including regional and minority languages, benefit from Open Educational Practices (OEP)? How can Open Educational Resources (OER) be shaped to foster linguistic and cultural diversity? What policies are favourable to the uptake of quality OER in less used language communities?

  • ICDE is the responsible partner for and has published the policy brief “Open Educational Resources in your Own Language, in your Way” in 2015.
  • ICDE will in partnership with Open Education Consortium to conduct a workshop on the issue in April 2016.
    • ICDE will contribute before the project is closed by end 2016. Contributions will be made towards a workshop in April and to the mainstreaming of policies at a final conference planned  for 26 – 27 September 2016.
  • Information and communication activities to support the dissemination and uptake of the policy brief. 

Strategic objective 4: To facilitate cooperation and networking among members

ICDE acts as a hub for its network of members and cooperating organizations. The close collaboration with and among member institutions to carry out activities and to achieve established goals is the critical success factor for the ICDE Strategic Plan. There is a need for strengthened north-south collaboration between institutions – to support knowledge exchange, and development in the south hemisphere, particularly.

Conferences and meetings should offer good opportunities for membership cooperation and networking in relevant fields and should support the achievements of the ICDE Strategic Plan. To increase participation and deliver easy access to ICDE conferences, virtual participation shall be considered and developed. Ref. transversal activities, 0.3 information and communication.

Building on experiences from the ICDE Quality Review service, new consultative services will be considered.

There is a significant opportunity for synergies in increasing the cooperation between ICDE, national and international regional organizations. ICDE will facilitate regular consultations between international associations. Dual membership of ICDE and international associations should also be considered.

Based on membership interests, ICDE will establish virtual task forces, target groups, working groups, and other work formats where appropriate, to make progress towards the fulfilment of the Strategic Plan. Virtual groups should have a clear mandate, as a rule be self-governed and could, if possible, meet physically in connection with major ICDE events.

4.1.      Evaluate and consider changes to the model for ICDE events (can have consequences for 4.2., 4.3. and 4.4.)

4.2.      ICDE Presidents´ Summit to be organized once a year, hosted by a member institution.

4.3.      The ICDE World Conference to be organized every second year, hosted by a member institution.

4.4.       At least one regional ICDE conference to be held each year, hosted by a member institution.

4.5.      Identify and give support to one flagship initiative to promote closer collaboration between institutions in the northern and southern hemispheres.      

4.6.      Increase the participation of members from developing countries, and non-members, in ICDEs´ events.

Strategic objective 5: To strengthen ICDE membership and governance, and engage members in collaborative activity and organizational development

Based on its values, to be member-focused and transparent, ICDE needs to continue to develop itself as a professional and well-governed body. To strengthen the voice of ICDE members in the international and regional community, ICDE needs to expand as a membership organization. To achieve progress on the attainment of strategic objectives, there is a need for a more sustainable ICDE with a more diverse revenue base. To involve members in open and transparent processes on important issues for the membership and ICDE will be a key working method for ICDE. To continuously improve ICDE, the Executive Committee, the Board of Trustees and the Election Committee will self-evaluate their own activities yearly and report on these to the membership.

5.1.      Rules, procedures and practices for governance and election process and procedures in ICDE to be described and published for easy access by stakeholders.

5.2.      Annual membership satisfaction survey.

5.3.      Increase the institutional membership of ICDE by 25% before the end of 2013 and by 15%             annually from 2014 to 2016.

  • Traditional universities developing distance education are a priority group.
  • Dual membership of ICDE and international associations to be considered.
  • Individual membership to be stimulated and new opportunities for individual members to be facilitated.
  • ICDE Operational Network – ICDE ON to be integrated and active in this line, ref. 5.5.

5.4.      Increase the total funding of ICDE by 20% by the end of 2014, and increase revenue from membership and new sources by 50% by 2015.

Technically ICDE has achieved this target, but since a part of the achievement can be explained by currency fluctuation, and because the funding needs have significantly increased, a plan for fundraising and sustainable funding is needed.

5.5.       ICDE Operational Network – ICDE ON.

To be relevant, put members first and strengthen achievements on the ground, ICDE has invited members to express their interest in taking part in the ICDE ON, and together with the ICDE Secretariat, create the ICDE ON. ICDE ON was launched at the 26 ICDE World Conference in South Africa on 16 October, 2015.

The purpose of the ICDE Operational Network is to strengthen ICDE as membership driven organization and offer a regional localised support structure. In addition, it will strengthen the visibility and representation of ICDE around the world and increase ICDE’s operational capacity, global insight and it will support global knowledge exchange.  At the launch, the Operational Networks are known as:

  • ICDE Operational Network Mediterranean and Southern Europe – hosted by Uninettuno, Italy
  • ICDE Operational Network Boldic – hosted by Swedish Association for Distance Education, Sweden
  • ICDE Operational Network Asia Pacific – hosted by Universitas Terbuka, UT, Indonesia
  • ICDE Operational Network Africa – hosted by African Virtual University, AVU, Kenya

An activity plan in synergy with the ICDE Activity Plan for 2016 and 2017 to be agreed. An evaluation to take place before 2 years of operations. 



Last Updated on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 08:16 AM