ICDE Executive Committee - Introducing the leadership of ICDE from January 2016


The members of ICDE have voted and the results are in!

Prof. Asha Singh Kanwar and Prof. Belinda Tynan have been elected to join the ICDE Executive Committee as institutional representatives. Prof. Alan Tait, who is currently an institutional representative of the Executive Committee, was elected by the individual members to be the individual representative. They will join Prof. Mandla S. Makhanya, Dr. Yang Zhijian and Mr. Maxim Jean-Louis as the Executive Committee of ICDE from January 2016.

Prof. Tian Belawati, the current President of ICDE, and Marta Mena, Executive Committee member (individual representative) will complete their terms in the Executive Committee by end-2015. Both Tian and Marta served two periods (8 years), which is the limit set by the Constitution.

According to the Constitution of ICDE, the Executive Committee will elect the chair amongst its members who will also be the President of ICDE. This will take place at the first Executive Committee meeting for 2016, scheduled for January.

ICDE members can get the full result from the election on the ICDE extranet.

Prof. Asha Singh Kanwar
President & Chief Executive Officer, Commonwealth of Learning. Executive Committee member 2016-2019.

Professor Asha Singh Kanwar became President and Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) on 1 June 2012. She has served COL for 12 years, first as an Education Specialist – Higher Education and Policy and then as its Vice President for six years.

Before joining COL, Professor Kanwar was a consultant in open and distance learning at UNESCO’s Regional Office for Education in Africa (BREDA) in Dakar, Senegal. She has over 30 years of experience in teaching, research and administration.

Professor Kanwar received the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) Prize of Excellence in 2009. In 2014, she received the AAOU Meritorious Service Award for outstanding contributions in the areas of open and distance education. She has been awarded honorary doctorates by two universities.

Prof. Belinda Tynan
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Innovation), Open University UK. Executive Committee member 2016-2019.

Professor Belinda Tynan is the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Innovation) and a Professor of Higher Education at the Open University, UK. Reporting to the Vice-Chancellor, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Innovation) contributes to the strategic vision and mission of the University and has a focus on supporting student success by providing executive leadership in the areas of innovation, strategy and policy development, production, informal learning and research and scholarship in technology enhanced learning. The PVC(LI) is Chair of the Education Committee amongst others and is a driver of initiatives relating to learning and innovation. he Learning and Innovation portfolio comprises: The Learning and Teaching Centre; Learning and Teaching Solutions (LTS) Library Services; Open Media Unit (OMU); Knowledge Media Unit (KMi); Institute of Educational Technology (IET).

Professor Belinda Tynan joined The Open University in April 2013. Previously, she was Pro-Vice-Chancellor Learning, Teaching and Quality at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia. She has a doctorate in education from the University of Western Australia and is an active researcher with expertise in technology enhanced learning, staff development and scholarship and learning and teaching pedagogy. She has70 peer reviewed articles, books and book chapters and in excess 3000 views and more than 2500 downloads on ResearchGate. She is a frequently invited speaker, experienced postgraduate supervisor and has more than thirty years of experience in the education sector in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK. She has significant executive level leadership and management experience and was recently awarded her Principle Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (UK). She has a doctorate from the University of Western Australia, several postgraduate certificates from the University of Melbourne and Australian Catholic University in education, curriculum and higher education and a Masters in online learning. She is on the editorial board of two major journals, a non-executive director of the Executive Committee of the European Distance Education Network and FutureLearn (UK); on the board of the Menzies Centre at Kings College, London and the Singapore Institute of Management International Academic Panel (IAP 2016). She additionally holds a two year appointment as a member of the Polytechnic Quality Assurance Framework (PQAF) External Review Panel for the Ministry of Education, Singapore and recently was invited to be a member of the BIS Advisory Group for the Teaching Excellence Framework.


Prof. Mandla S. Makhanya
Principal and Vice Chancellor, The University of South Africa (Unisa). Executive Committee member. Re-elected 2014-2017.

On 1 January 2011, Professor Mandla Makhanya took up his new position of Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of South Africa (Unisa). He was previously Unisa’s Pro Vice-Chancellor. Prof Makhanya holds a BA and BA (Hons) in Sociology from the University of Fort Hare, a Masters degree in Industrial Sociology from the University of Natal and a DPhil from the University of Pretoria. Recently, the University of Athabasca in Canada conferred an honorary doctorate on Prof Makhanya in recognition of his outstanding leadership at Unisa and his contribution as a distinguished scholar in distance education.

Prof Makhanya previously held the position of Executive Dean of the College of Human Sciences since 2004. Prior to this, he was the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the old Unisa, a position which he occupied from January 2000 to February 2004. Before that Prof Makhanya worked in the sales and marketing division of a multinational company, until he was recruited to the lecturing staff at Unisa.

In addition to the above, Prof Makhanya is Referee for the National Research Foundation (NRF) specialising in refereeing applications for funding, grants and post-graduate scholarships (Sociology, Development Studies, Business Administration & Social Work) and Referee for the Centre for Development and Enterprise. He is an external Examiner in a number of Universities in South Africa.

Prof Makhanya has published widely in accredited journals. His recent publication is entitled: “The importance of basic education in the mitigation of HIV/AIDS among informal sector workers”.

He has also addressed a number of conferences on various topics. He is a member of the South African Sociological Association (SASA) and International Association of Sociology (ISA).

Besides his academic endeavours locally, Prof Makhanya engages in academic and higher education forums in South and Southern Africa, and internationally. In this regard mention can be made of the role that he plays in UNESCO and its activities. He is the Deputy Chair of the South African National Commission for UNESCO, as well as the Chair of the Culture Sector of South African National Commission for UNESCO.

Dr. Yang Zhijian
President, The Open University of China. Executive Committee member. Re-elected 2014-2017.

Dr. Yang Zhijian has been President of the Open University of China (OUC) since July 2010. Prior to that, he served as Deputy Director-General of the Higher Education Department of the Ministry of Education of China.

In 1991 he paid an academic visit to Ohio University in the USA. In 2003 he obtained his doctorate of education at Peking University. He worked within macro management and macro policy-making from 1983 to 2010 at the Ministry of Education. He is very experienced in educational management and educational policy-making, which has been well-recognized. His academic interest mainly focuses on research on higher education and mass higher education. He has published many academic papers in leading academic journals of China and his monograph Research on the Objectives of Cultivating Undergraduates in Chinese Higher Education Institutions (HEI) was published in 2005. In this book, he explored and discussed the formation, evolution, the issues and challenges of undergraduate programmes in HEIs since the establishment of the new China.

Since he took over as President of OUC, he has proactively supported OUC's participation in international activities in the field of the ODL and facilitating the implementation of joint projects, such as the Confucius Institute in Michigan State University and sponsorship of the 24th ICDE World Conference.

Dr. Yang is chief designer of the ongoing innovation at OUC, aiming to establish a new type of open university in China with increased flexibility and openness. According to the National Outline for Medium and Long-term Education Reform and Development, the Chinese Government now pays great attention to the establishment of a lifelong learning society, and OUC is hoping to take the leading role in this. Dr. Yang is now - through his leadership of OUC - exploring the effective operating mechanisms and management model to meet the needs of the lifelong learning society in China.


Mr. Maxim Jean-Louis
President - Chief Executive Officer, Contact North | Contact Nord, Canada. Executive Committee member 2014-2017.

Maxim Jean-Louis is President – Chief Executive Officer of Contact North | Contact Nord, Ontario’s Distance Education & Training Network.

Prior to coming to Contact North | Contact Nord in 1996, Maxim worked in senior management roles for over 15 years at Athabasca University in Alberta, Canada’s open university.

Maxim’s current board memberships include the Canadian Polar Commission, the Ontario Aboriginal Postsecondary Education and Training Working Table and Renewed Computer Technology (RCT). He is a former Chair of the Board of Directors of the World University Service of Canada and of the Optical Regional Advanced Network of Ontario as well as a past member of Ontario’s Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board and he served as a member of the Canadian Advisory Mission to support the implementation of the South African National Qualifications Framework (NQF) by the South African Qualifications Authority.

In 2011, Maxim served as Special Advisor to Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities for an Ontario Online Institute, producing a 125 page report and recommendations to the Minister on opportunities for online learning in the province.

At Contact North | Contact Nord, Maxim leads a team of 300 staff supporting the delivery of education and training opportunities from the province’s 24 public colleges, 22 public universities, and more than 250 literacy and basic skills and other training providers through a network of 112 online learning centres covering 1 million square kilometres. These local centres are equipped with web conferencing, videoconferencing and audio-conferencing distance delivery platforms as well as computer workstations and high-speed internet for students to participate in their synchronous and asynchronous courses. A variety of support services are available in English and French from the local staff at each online learning centre.

Contact North | Contact Nord has worked in partnership with Ontario’s public colleges, universities, literacy and basic skills and other training providers continuously for the past 27 years to deliver their online and distance learning programs and courses to over 600 small, remote, rural, Aboriginal and Francophone communities across the province through the 112 online learning centres. Through its 27 year history, Contact North | Contact Nord has generated more than 315,000 student registrations for its education and training provider partners.

Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has provided annual operating funding to Contact North | Contact Nord continuously for the past 27 years.

The not-for-profit corporation provides information on available online and distance programs and courses and support services from Ontario’s 24 public colleges, 22 public universities, and more than 250 literacy and basic skills and other training providers through the Ontario Online Learning Portal for Students which averages close to 25,000 visitors per month.

Contact North | Contact Nord also helps build capacity for online learning in Ontario by providing resources, training and information to faculty, practitioners, administrators and policy makers on new developments, key issues and emerging trends in online learning. The resources are available on the Ontario Online Learning Portal for Faculty & Instructors which averages 14,000 visitors per month.

Contact North | Contact Nord provides a comprehensive overview of online learning and distance education in Canada with the publication of Online Learning in Canada: At a Tipping Point, A Cross-Country Check-Up 2012.

Ontario is Canada’s largest jurisdiction for post-secondary education with 24 public colleges and 22 public universities who collectively offer more than 18,000 online and distance courses and more than 1,000 online and distance programs. These public colleges and universities generate more than 500,000 student registrations in their online and distance learning courses.

Prof. Alan Tait
Director, International Development and Teacher Education, The Open University, UK. Executive Committee member, co-opted until 2015. Executive Committee member (individual representative), 2016-2019.

Professor Alan Tait is Director, International Development and Teacher Education at the Open University (OU), UK. Prior to this he was Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) responsible for the strategic and operational oversight of the University's undergraduate and postgraduate courses, packs, programmes and qualifications, together with acting as Planning and Resource Officer for the seven faculties.

Alan Tait previously held the position as Dean of the Faculty of Education and Language Studies at the OU. His academic career has been in practitioner and scholarly support of distance and e-learning. He was Chair of the European Distance and E-Learning Network (EDEN) NAP Steering Committee 2002-2005, and he served as President of ICDE associate member, EDEN, from 2007-2010. Prior to this, he was Editor of the journal Open Learning from 1989-1998, joint Series Editor of the Routledge Series Studies in Distance Education and Co-Director of the Cambridge International Conference on Open and Distance Learning.

Alan is Professor of Distance Education and Development at the OU and has published extensively in the field of open and distance learning, in particular in learner support. He is former Chief Editor of the European Journal of Open and Distance Learning (EURODL) and current Editor in Chief of the Commonwealth of Learning's Journal of Learning for Development. He has also worked widely in developing countries for international organizations such as UNESCO, the European Commission and the Commonwealth of Learning. He is currently also Senior Online Consultant for The Open University of China.

Recent most cited publications include ‘What are Open Universities for?’, in Open Learning, 2008, Vol 23:2, pp 85-94, ‘Leadership Development for Distance and E Learning’, 2007, in the International Handbook of Distance Education, Eds. Evans T, Haughey M and Murphy D, pp 499-512, and ‘Planning Student Support for Open and Distance Learning’, in Open Learning, 2000, Vol 15, No 3, pp 287-299.