25th ICDE World Conference (16-18 October 2013, Tianjin, China)

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Host: Tianjin Open University 

The 25th ICDE World Conference on Open and Distance Learning began on 16 October with an opening keynote by Asha Kanwar, President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning. It is being hosted this year by Tianjin Open University in provincial capital 120km from Beijing, with approximately 700 participants. 

Pre- Conference information


The 25th ICDE World Conference took place in Tianjin, China 16- 18 October 2013. The Conference will be an exciting meeting place, taking the temperature on the development in our field, exchanging knowledge on key themes and finding new ways forward in developing high quality open, distance and online education in all regions of the world.  The Conference will be an important milestone in distance education - ICDE will celebrate its 75 years anniversary at the same time as we are entering a new era of education in an increasingly more open and online world.  

The theme of the 25th ICDE World Conference is “New Strategies for Global Open, Flexible and Distance Learning” and the scope is to provide a broad platform for educators, policy makers, administrators and stakeholders from all over the world who are engaged with and interested in open, distance and online education and who desire to follow the very rapid development of this field.

Important dates

The deadline for submitting your abstract is 30 April 2013.

Notification of abstract acceptance: 15 May 2013

Deadline for paper submission: 30 June 2013

Early-bird Registration Deadline: before midnight, 31 July 2013


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Conference Theme


The theme of the 25th ICDE World Conference is “New Strategies for Global Open, Flexible and Distance Learning”, with seven sub-themes:

  1. The Culture of ODL

  2.  The Quality in ODL

  3. Educational Technology in ODL

  4. OER of ODL

  5. Study Support to ODL

  6. Regulatory Environment and Strategies for Innovative, Open and Flexible Learning

  7. Assistive Learning

Keynote speakers

  • Pauline Gonzalez-Pose, Chief, Section for Higher Education, UNESCO

  • Hans d'Orville, Assistant Director-General for Strategic Planning, UNESCO

  • Asha Kanwar, President & CEO, Commonwealth of Learning

  • M.S. Vijay Kumar, Senior Associate Dean and Director, Office of Educational Innovation and Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, U.S.A.

  • George Siemens, Associate Director, Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute, Athabasca University, Canada

  • Yang Zhijian, President, The Open University of China

  • Mpine Makoe, Senior Researcher, Institute for Open and Distance Learning, University of South Africa

Open educational resources panel experts

  • Rory McGreal, UNESCO/ Commonwealth of Learning Chair in Open Educational Resources; Professor, Centre for Distance Education, Athabasca University, Canada

  • Uf Daniel Ehlers, President, European Foundation for Quality in E-learning

  • Griff Richards, Manager, Technology, Teaching and Learning Resources, African Virtual University

  • Wayne Mackintosh, Commonwealth of Learning Chair in Open Educational Resources; Director of the OER Foundation

  • Fred Mulder, UNESCO OER Chair holder; Former Rector of Open Universiteit Nederland

Study support panel experts

  • Grace Javier Alfonso, Chancellor, University of the Philippines Open University

  • Alan Tait, Professor of Distance Education and Development, The Open University UK

  • Weiyuan Zhang, Head and Chief Researcher, Centre for Research in Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning, School of Professional and Continuing Education, University of Hong Kong

  • Yngve Troye Nordkvelle, Professor, Lillehammer University College, Norway; Chair of the Expert Group on Quality in ICT-supported education, Norway Opening Universities.

Accepted papers

Almost 400 papers were accepted for presentation in the ten parallel sessions of the conference.



ICDE Prize of Excellence

2013 ICDE Prize for Innovation and Best Practice 2013. Mark Brown, Helen Hughes, Mike Keppell, Natasha Hard and Liz Smith were awarded the ICDE Prize under the theme of ‘Impact’ for the paper: In their own words: Student stories of seeking learning support at the 25th ICDE World Conference, Tianjin, China, 16-18 October 2013.

Prof Dhanarajan honoured for lifelong contribution to ODL

The International Council on Open and Distance Education (ICDE) bestowed Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Dr Gajarai Dhanarajan with the biennial ICDE Prize for Excellence for Lifelong Contribution to the field of open and distance learning (ODL).


He received the prize at the 25th ICDE World Conference on Open and Distance Learning held from 16-18 October 2013 in Tianjin, China. The conference was attended by over 700 participants from 40 countries. The winners were selected by an independent international jury appointed by the ICDE Executive Committee.

The jury, in a eulogy read by Brenda Gourley, former Vice Chancellor of Open University UK and a member of the International Advisory Board of WOU, noted that Prof Dhanarajan started his dedication to ODL when working at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and while there he started his mission of developing distance education programmes in an astonishing number of countries. “He became the highly successful head of what is now known as the Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK), went on to become the President of the Commonwealth of Learning with the specific mandate of supporting, enhancing and promoting open learning in the member states of the Commonwealth – a task he discharged with distinction.”

Remarking that most people with such accolades would have retired to a quiet life, the jury said that Prof Dhanarajan however took on yet another challenge, which is to establish a new university, WOU, and become its first Vice Chancellor. Prof Dhanarajan has also presented at conferences and written not only on ODL “but about access, learning paradigms, building knowledge societies, open educational resources, educational policy, leadership, quality assurance and much more”.

“Indeed there can be no other person who has worked in so many countries, published so widely and addressed so many audiences, over so many years, so successfully and with such dedication to the cause of open and distance learning as Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Dr Gajaraj Dhanarajan. To the list of fellowships, honorary degrees (from universities in five continents) and prestigious titles, it is with great pleasure that the ICDE adds its tribute to this extraordinary man.”

In accepting the prize, Prof Dhanarajan stated that his journey of slightly over four decades into ODL was shaped by colleagues who worked with him in USM, OUHK and COL. “I want to thank all of these people who supported me these 40 years; this prize is theirs; I am merely accepting it on their behalf.”



Conference Proceedings

At this time, the conference proceedings are unavailable. If found, please contact the Secretariat and they can be uploaded to the site.