Winners of the ICDE Prizes of Excellence 2023: Lifelong Contribution to the Field

The ICDE Prize for Lifelong Contribution to the field awards significant achievements and contributions both to the OFDL field and to the wider international community. This year the ICDE Prizes of Excellence Jury decided to award two individuals this special prize.

Dr. Lorenzo García Aretio

Dr. Lorenzo García Aretio is Professor of Education Theory and Distance Education at the Faculty of Education of UNED, Spain, and Professor Emeritus since 2015. He recently held the special role as Director of the UNESCO Chair of Distance Education (CUED) until February 2021.

His academic career includes impressive achievements such as contributing to 46 books, 18 of these as the sole author or primary author, as well as dozens of articles in scientific journals, and articles related to the OFDL field. Dr. Aretio has participated at different levels in more than 20 research projects, 13 international and five national, either as Principal Investigator (PI) or as a collaborating researcher. In his support of international knowledge transfer and open access, much of his scientific and dissemination work is available online. He has continuously shared open-access documents of interest related to OFDL with the wider community and through his social networks.

21 years of Dr. Aretio’s professional life were devoted to university management and governance in different academic positions at UNED. Whilst his career speaks for itself, it is his outstanding contribution to the development of quality open and distance education within Latin America that brings a uniqueness to his contribution to this field. 

Dr. Aretio has supported many educational institutions in this region and contributed to developing quality distance education, receiving five Honorary Doctorates from universities in five different Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, and Ecuador.

Dr. Aretio represents the true spirit of not only the field of OFDL, but also of the key values that lie at the heart of ICDE – knowledge sharing and support to development of OFDL across borders.

Professor Don Olcott Jr., FRSA

The second prize in the category of the Lifelong contribution to the field Prize is awarded to Professor Don Olcott, Jr., FRSA.

Dr. Don Olcott Jr’s international contributions to OFDL spans over 40 years and  have included major leadership, faculty, and administrative posts in Australia, the U.S., Germany, Romania, the United Arab Emirates, and the UK.  

Dr. Olcott Jr has published for over 35 years in OFDL, served on the editorial boards of the major journals, and been an active leader and member of numerous global organizations including USDLA, EDEN, COL, ACU, UPCEA, ODLAA, ICDE and others.  He is passionate about supporting the next generation of young OFDL leaders, improving diversity and inclusivity, and reducing the digital divide in all regions of the world.  

Ten years ago, in 2013, he was awarded ICDE’s Individual Prize of Excellence for his global leadership, collaboration and as an ambassador for OFDL. The ICDE Jury noted ‘Dr. Olcott’s career exemplifies his commitment to the spirit of borderless collaboration that is the hallmark of open and distance learning in the Information Age.’  A sentiment still true today. This recognition for Dr. Olcott Jr’s contribution spans decades and reflects his long-standing impact in the OFDL field. As early as 2010, Western Washington University honoured him with the Lifetime Achievement alumni award for outstanding contributions to American and global higher education.  

During the past forty years, Dr. Olcott Jr has held faculty and key leadership appointments and contributed to global work experience in OFDL through a range of countries.  

His global vision truly is education for all – for everyone. An important vision for us to aspire to and as relevant today as it was back in 2006 when he published his book, ‘Dancing on the Glass Ceiling:  Women, Leadership and Technology’, one of the first major publications to examine the roles of women in OFDL leadership roles.  We congratulate Dr Don Olcott Jr.

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