Leaders in Open and Distance Education in North America

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Ally, Mohamed
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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

The North American leaders in open and distance contributed to leadership, theory and research in open and distance education. Early distance education in North America can be traced back to Charles Wedemeyer who was a Professor of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He used technology available at the time to improve access to education for those who were not able to participate in the traditional education system. In the 1960s he predicted that individuals would be able to access education from anywhere and any time using technology. As we all know this is a reality today. The vast geographical areas of North America, especially Canada with many remote locations, motivated North Americans to make the rapid shift to open and distance education (ODE). This new paradigm required excellent and bold leadership to move ODE into the future. The early leadership was started by Sir John Daniel who brought his international leadership experience to benefit open and distance education in North America. At the same time, Michael Moore developed and introduced many theoretical ideas that shaped ODE in North America. Researchers and implementers such as Rory McGreal, Marti Cleveland-Innes, Terry Anderson, Badrul Khan, and Heather Kanuka implemented many innovative research and development projects to move open and distance education into the 21st century. The contributions made by the North American leaders in open and distance education are helping to achieve Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This goal is to provide inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. The most effective method to help achieve this goal is to implement open and distance education to educate everyone regardless of location, ethnic status, economic background, gender, and age.

Leadership,Open and Distance Learning (ODL)
Caribbean and Americas
Journal of Learning for Development;vol. 4, no. 2