Global driving forces, ICDE and INN, hold International Summit on Lifelong Learning

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The International Council for Open and Distance Education, ICDE, stands out as a global name among the multitude of Nordic organisations in the field of education, even within the global context. The organisation has its head office in Oslo, and it is probably more useful and relevant than ever in this era of internationalisation, digital transformation and knowledge-intensive economy. 

ICDE has a worldwide scope, and its goal is to be a global force for lifelong, open and flexible learning. During its eighty-year history, the organisation has developed an extensive network as well as in-depth knowledge of cooperation and experience-sharing across national borders and continents.

Lifelong learning will be put on the agenda in February, when ICDE and Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences will bring together people from all over the world to an International Summit in Lillehammer. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has confirmed that she will attend the summit and give a talk on the importance of lifelong learning to the competitiveness of individuals and society. Her government is currently working on a lifelong learning reform that aims to increase labour market participation by making working life more inclusive. Many international experts will attend the summit, including President & CEO of the extensive intergovernmental organisation Commonwealth of Learning, Asha Kanwar. She will talk about lifelong learning and good education strategies in relation to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

The Prime Minister’s attendance also draws a historical line back to the ICDE World Conference in Oslo in 1988, which was attended by both Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland and King Olav. The local organiser was Norsk forbund for fjernundervisning (now Fleksibel utdanning Norge), and the conference was so successful that it was talked about for many years afterwards. After this momentous World Conference, the Norwegian government wanted to highlight distance learning as an important focus area by giving ICDE state funding in return for the head office being moved to Norway. Since then, the organisation’s activities have been governed from Oslo.

The conference at Lillehammer also has a certain historical aura about it, since it will open exactly 25 years after the Lillehammer Olympics. The conference has attracted considerable interest, and over one hundred papers and proposals for workshops and other events have been received so far. This time, it is not sports that are on the agenda, but experience-sharing and debate on lifelong learning and lifelong employability. The conference is organised as three parallel tracks. One track will deal with global trends in education and working life at societal level. This will include relevant research and debate on digital transformation and automation in business and industry as well as in society at large. Other interesting topics are quality-assurance of lifelong learning and flexible education programmes.

The second track will look at on supply and demand, focusing on how the educational institutions can best meet the needs of the labour market. Key words include career guidance and self-directed learning, with presentations of good examples from all over the world. The third track is entitled ‘Learners meet educators – success criteria for inclusive learning environments’.

The event organisers aim to create an arena where the education sector can meet business and industry, and where South meets North. Registration has opened, and the ambition is to gather at least 400 conference participants in Lillehammer next February.

ICDE is a driving force and co-organiser of several major conferences in the near future. In early December, the Open Education Leadership Summit will be held in Paris in cooperation with the French Ministry for Higher Education and Research. In November 2019, there is another World Conference on the topic of Online learning – transforming Lives & Societies. The local organisation in charge of the World Conference is the National Institute for Digital Learning in Dublin.

New knowledge is also exchange through ICDE’s journal, Open Praxis, which publishes peer-reviewed research articles about challenges and experience relating to web-based teaching and e-learning. The journal has just announced a call for papers.

It is demanding to complete a doctoral degree. ICDE, in cooperation with some of its members, has established a global network called the Global Doctoral Consortium (GDC) for doctoral students engaged in research in the fields of open, flexible and technology-enhanced learning. GDC provides a unique arena for experience-sharing and will also encourage others to choose a topic from these research areas for their doctoral degrees.

ICDE's members are from across the globe. They include universities and institutions of higher education, networks, adult education organisations, government agencies and ministries, national and international organisations, and individuals.

More information:
About the conference in Lillehammer: 
About Commonwealth for Learning:
About the World Conference on Online Learning 2019 in Dublin:
About Open Praxis:
Call for papers for Open Praxis:

Original article:

 By Torhild Slåtto