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Conferences, connections and celebrations: ICDE’s 2023 Highlights

2023 was a big year for ICDE: not only did we celebrate our 85th anniversary, we also hosted the first ICDE World Conference in four years. As the year comes to a close, we have rounded up a selection of ICDE highlights from 2023.

Growing our membership

In 2023, we welcomed 27 new Institutional Members to our global community for Open, Flexible and Distance Learning (OFDL). In addition, our individual and student membership rose to over 100 members! 

You can explore our membership base on the ICDE Members Community page

Organising international conferences

This year, ICDE organised two international, in-person conferences: the Lillehammer Lifelong Learning ICDE Conference in Lillehammer, Norway and the 29th ICDE World Conference in San José, Costa Rica. 

The Lillehammer Lifelong Learning ICDE Conference took place in February 2023, and gathered nearly 400 participants from all over the world to the small town of Lillehammer in Norway. During the three conference days, delegates exchanged knowledge and experiences, learned from expert speakers, and immersed themselves in the present and future of lifelong learning for lifelong employability.

Throughout the conference, participants were encouraged to share key messages, learnings and thoughts on the future of lifelong learning, by contributing to the Lillehammer Lifelong Learning Road Map.

After a four-year wait, the ICDE World Conference returned in November 2023, hosted by UNED Costa Rica. Under the theme “Joining Hands in Peace for the Futures of Education”, over 600 delegates from all world regions heard fascinating keynote presentations, participated in a range of parallel sessions covering important topics within OFDL, and were introduced to the warm hospitality and vibrant culture of Costa Rica.

During the conference, the ICDE Prizes of Excellence and ICDE Honorary Membership were awarded to deserving recipients, and we also announced the location of the next ICDE World Conference – we look forward to welcoming you all to Wellington, New Zealand in 2025

Take a look at the summary article for the 29th ICDE World Conference to learn more about what we learnt, prize winners, pre-conference events and the way forward. 

Hosting virtual events

From Ask the ICDE Experts to Members’ Forums and Global Doctoral Consortium seminars, ICDE hosted or co-hosted a total of 15 virtual events in 2023. 

Our new event series Ask the ICDE Experts, has featured experts from the ICDE Quality Network covering topics related to quality of OFDL in an interactive format. 

You can find many of our event recordings on Vimeo, or on the Members Area of the ICDE website. 

Celebrating ICDE’s 85th anniversary 

August 2023 officially marked 85 years since the first-ever ICDE World Conference. ICDE’s 85th anniversary – a momentous milestone for the organisation – has been celebrated throughout 2023. We ran a social media campaign in the autumn, and published a dedicated anniversary website, featuring an interactive timeline of the organisation’s history, a message from the ICDE President and Board Members, member testimonials, and resources to learn more. 

Additionally, the anniversary was celebrated during the 29th ICDE World Conference in Costa Rica, where a special session was held, titled “ICDE at 85: The story and impact of open and distance education”. ICDE veterans Alan Tait, Morten Flate Paulsen and Sir John Daniel shared their lived experience of ICDE over the years – from as early as 1975 – in a lively discussion moderated by Anna Fredriksen from the ICDE Secretariat. They also spoke about the key developments they have witnessed in the field over the years, and their hopes and concerns for the future of OFDL. 

Left to right: Anna Fredriksen, Morten Flate Paulsen, Alan Tait and Sir John Daniel

Meeting members around the world

2023 has been the year when international travel picked up following the pandemic. This has impacted the activity of the ICDE Secretariat, who collectively travelled to a total of 12 countries to attend conferences, high-level events and to meet with our members: 

  • Turkey
  • China
  • Costa Rica
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Mauritius
  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Norway
  • France

Advancing the ICDE Global Advocacy Campaign (GAC)

In addition to supporting our seven existing ICDE GAC task forces across the globe, a new task force was created in 2023: the North America task force.

We are also proud to announce that the ICDE advocacy toolkit recently has been translated into French, in addition to Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese. You can find it on the ICDE GAC webpage

Growing the ICDE Global Doctoral Consortium (GDC)

In 2023, ICDE hosted nine interactive seminars and sessions with our GDC Core Partners, and invited over 60 new student members to join this special network for PhD/EdD students within online, flexible and distance learning.

Additionally, ICDE gathered over 30 students interested in the field for our first in-person GDC event since 2017, in conjunction with the ICDE World Conference in Costa Rica. 

ICDE Board Member, Som Naidu, presents during the GDC session in Costa Rica

Spotlight on Quality

Last year, the ICDE Quality Review Service was commissioned by Universitas Terbuka for the fifth time. A team of quality reviewers, consisting of Prof. Dr. Ebba Ossiannilsson, Prof. Morten Flate Paulsen, and Prof. KC Li, completed the ICDE Quality Review Service in July 2023, which included a comprehensive visit to the various campuses of Universitas Terbuka

Find out more about the ICDE Quality Review Service

Closing ceremony following the ICDE Quality Review at Universitas Terbuka (UT). Photo credit: The Jakarta Post

Quality Network: This year, ICDE has published a Quality Area on its website exclusively for ICDE Members, with curated quality resources divided by regions. In addition, ICDE and the Quality Network hosted a series of virtual Ask the ICDE Experts events for members on the topics: “How to get started with quality assurance of OFDL”, “Quality of online assessment and the impact of ChatGPT” and “Quality Models in Regional frameworks”.  

Last but not least, during the ICDE World Conference in Costa Rica, the Quality Network offered a panel session, where the Focal Points of Quality gave regional perspectives of quality assurance, with five regions represented in-person. 

Projects and activities on Open Educational Resources (OER)

2023 has been the final year of the ENCORE+ project, which has been coordinated by ICDE. After three years of targeted work on OER in Europe, the project came to an official end during the ENCORE+ Final Conference, which spanned four days and featured eight separate sessions. If you didn’t manage to attend at the time, all the sessions are available on the ENCORE+ Showcase on Vimeo

Additionally, the ICDE Francophone OER Project worked throughout 2023 to adapt an OER course on basic OER knowledge to the French-speaking audience, together with our members and partners. This initiative has been recognised by experts and mentioned by two countries in reporting to UNESCO on the implementation of the OER recommendation. Read more about the project and access the courses here.

Last but not least, the ICDE Open Educational Resources (OER) Advocacy Committee (OERAC), offered a panel session at the ICDE World Conference in Costa Rica on OER and Artificial Intelligence, and have advocated for OER on behalf of ICDE in many international events throughout the year. 

Open Praxis

This year, the editorial hosting of ICDE’s open scholarly journal, Open Praxis, was transferred from UNED Spain to Anadolu University, Turkey. The editorial team now consists of Professor Aras Bozkurt as Lead Editor, with support from Associate Editors, Professor Cengiz Hakan, Associate Professor Hasan Ucar and Associate Professor Serpil Kocdar. 

Four issues of Open Praxis have been published in 2023, which can be found on the journal’s website

Introducing new ICDE Board members

With the terms of three ICDE Board members expiring at the end of 2023, ICDE held an election in September and October. ICDE members were invited to vote for their favourites among 12 candidates, and we are pleased to welcome Mpine Makoe, Andreia Inamorato (individual member representative) and Mark Nichols (returning Board member) to the ICDE Board from 1 January 2024. 

Want to join us in 2024? 

Next year will bring exciting events, such as the ICDE Leadership Summit in Geneva in June, and we will also start the important work of shaping ICDE’s Strategic Plan 2025 – 2028. Not least, there will be more virtual events, opportunities for networking and knowledge exchange within our global community. 

It’s a great time to join ICDE as a member! Find out more or contact us at

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