ICDE congratulates European Distance Education Network (EDEN) for its 25th Anniversary and looks back at the historic relation between ICDE and EDEN


As a tribute to the 25th anniversary of the European Distance Education Network (EDEN), Sir John Daniel, former president of ICDE (1982-1985), founder of EDEN but also former Vice-Chancellor of the Open University UK, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education and President of the Commonwealth of Learning, looks back at the context in which the Network was created and the historic relations between ICDE and EDEN:  

“In the 1970s the calm world of commercial correspondence courses was disrupted by the arrival of large, public-sector institutions, often called ‘open universities’, that offered multi-media learning and sophisticated student support. Open and distance learning (ODL) was transformed. The rapidly increasing number of ODL professionals sought ways to organise international communities of practice. At its 1982 world conference in Vancouver the International Council for Correspondence Education (ICCE) took up the challenge. David Sewart, Kevin Smith and I campaigned successfully for the ICCE to change its name to the International Council for Distance Education (ICDE) and to offer a broad tent that could bring together all distance learning institutions and practitioners worldwide.

“ICDE quickly developed into the major network for global collaboration between professionals working at all levels of distance education and training in both the public and private sectors. As regional associations for ODL later emerged they naturally developed links with ICDE. One such, the European Distance Education Network (EDEN), celebrates the Silver Jubilee of its establishment in 1991 at a conference in Budapest this month. 

“The stimulus for the creation of EDEN was the pulling down of the Berlin Wall. As Europe was re-united, countries in central and eastern Europe saw distance learning as a powerful tool for implementing their modernisation agenda. The European Association for Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) had been established in 1987 to foster collaboration between ODL institutions but more was needed. In the late 1980s a group calling itself the Budapest Platform met in Hungary to campaign for the creation of a network that would link individual ODL professionals in east and west so that they could share good practice. This initiative mutated into EDEN in 1991 and I was proud to work with Alan Tait and Andras Szucs, who have been pillars of EDEN ever since, to put the new organisation on a solid legal footing. 

"EDEN has done tremendous work over the last 25 years in creating a vibrant community of practice among distance education professionals across Europe from east to west. Now it faces new challenges. In my after-dinner address at the EDEN conference I shall suggest that ODL has an important role to play in the education, training and settlement of the migrants that have flooded into Europe. The network of skilled and dedicated professionals that EDEN represents can make a real difference in overcoming this challenge, just as it helped to re-unite East and West a quarter of a century ago."

NewsRita ChanEDEN