26th ICDE World Conference, ICDE Presidents' Summit and High Level Policy Forum (13-17 October 2015, South Africa)


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:

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.

Five papers were 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.

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.

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 all the news, see Pretoria Forum.

ICDE would like to thank the University of South Africa (UNISA), the host of the 26thICDE 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