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ICDE Secretary General at OFDL events in Turkey and Mauritius

During September and October 2023, ICDE Secretary General, Torunn Gjelsvik, attended the AAOU Annual Conference in Istanbul, Turkey, and the Commonwealth of Learning High-Level Roundtable for Vice-Chancellors in Mauritius.

36th AAOU Annual Conference

The theme of the 36th AAOU Annual Conference, hosted by Anadolu University, was “The Future of Open Universities in the Age of Digitilized Higher Education”. Between 28-30 September, a diverse community of educators, scholars, and visionaries from around the world gathered in Istanbul, Turkey to explore the power of open universities in this digital age. 

Gjelsvik was invited to the conference as a keynote speaker, and held a presentation titled “The DNA of Open Universities – and why it is critically needed in the age of digitalized Higher Education”. 

The conference was also an opportunity for the Secretary General to meet with the editorial team of Open Praxis, ICDE’s peer-reviewed, open access scholarly journal. Gjelsvik met with editor, Aras Bozkurt, along with associate editors Hasan Ucar, Serpil Koçdar and Cengiz Hakan Aydin. 

Pictured above (left to right): Hasan Ucar, Aras Bozkurt, Torunn Gjelsvik, Serpil Koçdar, Cengiz Hakan Aydin.

Furthermore, the AAOU conference was an opportunity to engage with current ICDE members and partners, including representatives from UP Open University (UPOU), Wawasan Open University, Universitas Terbuka, Commonwealth of Learning, and many more!

Pictured above (left to right): Melinda Bandalaria (UP Open University), Lily Chan (Wawasan Open University), Tian Belawati (Universitas Terbuka), Asha Kanwar (Commonwealth of Learning), Torunn Gjelsvik (ICDE).

Commonwealth of Learning High-Level Roundtable for Vice-Chancellors

This year’s Commonwealth of Learning (COL) High-Level Roundtable for Vice-Chancellors and Senior Officials  was held on the beautiful island of Mauritius between 4-5 October, and hosted by one of ICDE’s members, the Open University of Mauritius. 

President and CEO of COL, Professor Asha Kanwar, welcomed 24 attendees from 15 different countries to the roundtable, focusing on four selected topics for Open and Distance Learning: relevance, technology, climate change and leadership.

Delegates gathered at the 2023 Commonwealth of Learning Roundtable for Vice-Chancellors

The Secretary General moderated the leadership panel, and summarized from the discussions that university leadership is a complex matter, and that it for OFDL leaders can be a double struggle to overcome both internal and external resistance to change. On the other hand, the panel demonstrated a great deal of optimism related to passion for transformative leadership and belief in effective advocacy for open and distance education.

Pictured above (left to right, top row): Ami Upadhyay (Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University, India), Syed Humayun Akhter (Bangladesh Open University), Asha Kanwar (COL), Elijah I. Omwenga (Open University of Kenya). Front row: Puleng LenkaBula (University of South Africa), Lily Chan (Wawasan Open University, Malaysia), Kgomotso H. Moahi (Botswana Open University), Torunn Gjelsvik (ICDE)

The high-level event concluded with several recommendations, including the need for universities to adopt forward-thinking and adaptable strategies to navigate global disruptions and changing student demographics. The recommendations also urged embracing technological innovations like generative artificial intelligence and effective data utilisation, supporting the Green Learning Agenda, and building upon effective leadership practices for increased institutional efficiency and effectiveness.

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