26th ICDE World Conference – a complete success!


The 26th ICDE World Conference, hosted by the University of South Africa (UNISA), took place at Sun City in South Africa from 14 to 16 October 2015 under the theme ‘growing capacities for sustainable distance e-learning provision.’

The conference, attended by nearly 1,000 participants from 67 countries across the globe, was a ‘three in one’ event. Three events ran at the same time – the world conference itself, the ICDE Presidents’ Summit and the High Level Policy Forum.

Prof. Tian Belawati, ICDE President and Universitas Terbuka Rector, officially opened the conference and Dr. Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and Training in South Africa, delivered the opening address.

Over three days, the participants were treated to plenaries with keynotes including Tressie McMillan Cottom, Audrey Watters, Laura Czerniewicz, Joyce Seitzinger, Aziza Ellozy, Harold Jarche and Wayne Mackintosh, and engaging parallel sessions. Major highlights of the conference included MOOCs4D stream and the Doctoral Consortium.

26th ICDE World Conference news:

  • Blending higher education into an uncertain future

  • Education expansion can balance access with equality

  • Tech imperialism vs education idealism in California

  • Robust debate boosts the MOOCs agenda in development

  • The ethical quandary over student learning analytics

  • Open learning must support global ethics and development

During the closing ceremony, the African Virtual University, Nigerian higher education leader Olugbemiro Jegede and Russian academic Irina Smirnova (Head of the department for international projects at Moscow State University of Economics, Statistics and Informatics) were awarded the ICDE Prize of Excellence for outstanding achievements in online, open and flexible education. For more information, see Winners of the ICDE Prize Excellence.

Five papers were also awarded the ICDE Prize for Innovation and Best Practice in Open, Distance, Flexible, Online Education and E-learning. The papers were selected by the Open Praxis Editorial Board, and they will be published in the next issue of Open Praxis. For more information, see ICDE Prizes for Innovation and Best Practice 2015.

Over 80 participants, including Presidents, Rectors and Vice Chancellors, from 45 countries attended the Presidents’ Summit which was also held at Sun City. On Thursday 15 October, the Presidents, Rectors and Vice Chancellors (or their formal replacement) and the heads of distance education departments attended the closed Presidents' meeting.

ICDE Presidents' meeting

On the day following the conference, 130 higher education leaders participated in the High Level Policy Forum in Pretoria. The Forum was organized by ICDE in partnership with UNESCO, Open Education Consortium and Commonwealth of Learning, and hosted by UNISA. The theme of the Forum was ‘Higher education for the sustainable future we want. The way ahead for Online, Open and Flexible learning: Opportunities and Actions’, and its purpose was to give voice to the regions. The delegates agreed that policies aimed at enabling access to online learning, support for learner mobility and the strengthening of transnational qualifications agreements were essential components of a 21st century higher education strategy. For news from the Forum, see How online, open and flexible support learning will support a sustainable future - a call for action.

Reza Moridi, the Minister of Training, Colleges & Universities, for Ontario, Canada, gives his opening remarks to a full and engaged audience at the High Level Policy Forum.

ICDE would like to thank the University of South Africa (UNISA), the host of the 26th ICDE World Conference, as well as everyone who attended and contributed towards making the conference a complete success! Visit the conference website for photos, presentations and news. Twitter was buzzing with activity during the conference with the hashtag #icdeunisa.

Canada’s Contact North I Contact Nord has been announced as the host of the 27th ICDE World Conference in Toronto, Canada from October 17 – 19, 2017. For more information, see 27th ICDE World Conference to be held in Canada in 2017.