To knowledge center


3 days, 30 sessions, 32 countries

On Wednesday 15 February, almost 400 participants from all world regions gathered in the small town of Lillehammer, Norway for the Lillehammer Lifelong Learning ICDE Conference 2023. During the three days that followed, delegates exchanged knowledge and experiences, learned from expert speakers, and immersed themselves in the present and future of lifelong learning for lifelong employability.

International gathering in Lillehammer

This was the second time ICDE and the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences (INN) joined forces to organise the Lillehammer Lifelong Learning ICDE Conference. The conference covered a broad range of topics related to lifelong learning key issues, trends, and best practices.

The topics were divided into the following three levels:

  • Authorities and transnational organisations (policy-making)
  • Education sector and public/private enterprises (development and support)
  • Educators and learners (implementation; teaching and learning)

For three days, the conference delegates absorbed knowledge from experts, built local and international connections, attended interesting sessions and workshops, and addressed solutions towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 4

Inspiring and informative keynotes 

The plenary programme was filled with international experts within the field of lifelong learning. Co-chaired by ICDE President, Neil Fassina, and Deputy Head of INN’s Centre for Lifelong Learning, Kathinka Blichfeldt, delegates were guided through thought-provoking, inspiring and informative keynotes. 

The plenary programme on Wednesday was kicked off by Professor Norman Jackson, who spoke about “Creating a Life with Meaning: A lifewide-ecological concept of lifelong learning”. 

Professor Norman Jackson. Photo credit: Lars T. Johansen

Norman’s session was followed by a panel discussion on Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Development, new jobs and the green shift. Moderated by ICDE Secretary General, Torunn Gjelsvik, the panel included presentations from Asha Kanwar (Director and CEO, Commonwealth of Learning), David Atchoarena (Director, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning), and El Iza Mohamedou (Head, OECD Centre for Skills). 

Director and CEO of Commonwealth of Learning, Asha Kanwar. Photo credit: Lars T. Johansen

Other plenary programme highlights included a “demand and supply” battle, and keynotes speeches by Petter Bae Brandtzæg (University of Oslo), Guy Standing (SOAS University of London, Basic Income Earth Network), Pedro Moreno da Fonseca (ILO), Sveinung Skule (Norwegian Directorate for Higher Education), Silvija Seres (Mathematician and Technology Investor), and a closing video message from Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO. 

Three days, 30 sessions 

After receiving over 100 submissions from 31 countries during the call for proposals, the conference programme catered to many different interests, and provided valuable, transnational perspectives. The proposals were condensed into more than 30 parallel sessions divided across the three-day programme, so there was plenty for delegates to choose from.

Watch the #LifelongLearning2023 highlights:

ICDE members were well-represented in the programme, with sessions held by institutional members such as Dublin City University (Ireland), Flexible Education Norway, Athabasca University (Canada), Otago Polytechnic (New Zealand), Open University of Catalonia (Spain), and the Swedish Association for Open, Flexible and Distance Education.

Other ICDE members who had travelled far to attend the conference included Universidade Federal do Rio Grande de Norte (Brazil), Online Learning Consortium (USA), and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University (India) – to name a few. 

The ENCORE+ project also facilitated several sessions and workshops, taking participants through and building on their important work on open educational resources (OER) in Europe. 

Connecting with colleagues around the world

During the conference, participants spoke of their excitement to learn more about micro-credentials, open educational resources (OER), sustainable development, new technologies and advancements in policy. 

There’s incredible energy and great conversations going on. And so many different topics, but actually all coming back to lifelong learning. Really interesting and inspiring.” – Claire Goode, Otago Polytechnic

Photo credit: Lars T. Johansen

However, delegates equally expressed the importance of having the opportunity to come together and make new contacts in a physical space. When asked about what he hoped to get out of the conference, one participant replied:
To connect with colleagues around the world, and get fresh ideas that I can implement at my own institution – and for my own lifelong learning.

Looking ahead: The Lillehammer Lifelong Learning Road Map

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. Delegates had the opportunity to contribute by putting up Post-It notes on a board in the conference hall, or by visiting a dedicated website. 

Photo credit: Lars T. Johansen

The results of these contributions will be summarised into a Road Map report – a set of recommendations to achieve lifelong learning for lifelong employability, intended for policy makers, education and public/private enterprises, and for educators and learners. 

ICDE will share the results of the Road Map once it is ready. Make sure you’re signed up to our newsletter and follow us on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook) to keep up to date on the latest news! 

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