ICDE International Conference (7-9 March 2013, Madrid, Spain)

The UNED-ICDE 2013 International Conference took place 7-9 March 2013 in Madrid, Spain, and the conference attracted over two hundred participants from 44 different countries spanning five continents.

ICDE wishes to extend sincerest thanks and appreciation to the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) for hosting a successful International Conference.

The theme for UNED-ICDE conference was “Mobilizing Distance Education for Social Justice and Innovation” – contributing to mobilize Distance Education in its many modalities and forms, to build and transfer knowledge aimed at achieving valuable goals for societies that defend innovation and social justice.

Opening Ceremony

The conference was inaugurated on 7 March 2013 by Juan Gimeno Ullastres, Rector of the National Distance Education University. In his welcome speech, he said “Social justice and innovation are critical guidance of a good distance education. Our university has a clear commitment to social justice, providing education to anyone regardless of their socioeconomic situation.”

At the Opening Ceremony, Prof. Tian Belawati, President of ICDE and Rector of Universitas Terbuka, Indonesia emphasized that the conference is a great opportunity for higher education institutions engaged in open, distance and flexible learning and the traditional face-to-face education institutions applying methodologies based on Open and Distance Education technologies to share information, knowledge and experience with peers from around the world on mobilizing distance education for social justice and innovation.


The conference Program Committee prepared an excellent program consisting of the engaging plenary and parallel sessions by leading experts. Some of the topics covered were Promoting public policies and multinational organizations for distance education, Improving skills to promote access to distance education and the labour market and Higher education institutions’ success models.

The following moderators and speakers were invited to the plenary sessions:


  • Alejandro Tiana, Head of Rector’s Office, UNED
  • Will Swann, President of the European Association of Distance Education Universities (EADTU)
  • Marta Mena, Director of Virtual Training Program for Researchers at the Secretariat of Science, Technology and Graduate Studies, National Technological University (Argentina)


  • Pierre Mairesse, Director of Educational Policies, European Commission
  • Gard Titlestad, Secretary General, ICDE
  • Montserrat Gomendio, Secretary of State for Education, Vocational Training and Universities
  • Beatriz Morán, Director for Social Affairs, General Secretariat of Iberoamerica
  • Judith Zubieta, Coordinator of the Open University and Distance Education of National Autonomous University of Mexico
  • Francesc Pedró, Chief of Section - Sector Policy Advice and Information and Communication Technology in Education, UNESCO
  • Mandla Makhanya, ICDE Executive Committee and Vice-Chancellor of the University of South Africa (UNISA)
  • Grace Alfonso, Chancellor of the Open University of Phillippines
  • Peter de Shazo, Executive Director of LASPAU, affiliated to Harvard University
  • Claudio Rama, Dean of Faculty of Business University (Uruguay). Former director of the UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC)
  • Carlos Bielschowsky, President of the University Centre for Distance Education of the State of Rio de Janeiro (CEDERJ)
  • Elena Barberá, Director of Research for the eLearn Center and Doctoral Program Faculty Chair on ICT and Education of the Universitat Oberta of Catalonia (UOC)

Closing ceremony

The conference came to an end on 9 March 2013. The conference truly created a space where academics, teachers, researchers, politicians, social and economic actors could collaborate and discuss how to generate and transfer knowledge geared to building inclusive, successful and intelligent societies.

The speakers of the closing ceremony ended the session with the following remarks:

Fernando Monge, Deputy Vice-Rector for International Relations at UNED – “We cannot forget that dignity is work-related. So the mission of the university is to reach as many people as possible, to facilitate their entry into the workforce. The distances universities are universities that incorporate knowledge and talents that are not in other universities."

Mª Teresa Aguado, Vice-Rector for Internationalization and Cooperation of the National Distance Education University – “Education is fundamental and essential to enter the working world. Education should be able to combine the virtual, the face-to-face and the technological aspects. Therefore, distance learning is important to facilitate access to employment."

Alan Tait, ICDE Executive Committee and Professor of Distance Education and Development, Open University in UK –“There are two pillars for social justice – inclusion and solidarity; inclusion is bringing more people to be included, and solidarity is not leaving people behind. Distance education should be based on helping people achieve what they want to be. Everyone should have the right to build their identity."

Gard Titlestad, Secretary General of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) –
“The average age of young people coming out of college and entering into the labour market has risen by five years of waiting. Therefore, the most important part of innovation is to create jobs and services. People should be able to use what they have learned in order to be integrated in the labour market. Fostering positive student outcomes is what we can contribute to the society.”

The UNED-ICDE Conference report by UNED is also available. (in Spanish)