Open and Distance Learning: What's in a Name?

Daniel, John
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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

THE 11th CAMBRIDGE CONFERENCE, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 20 September 2005, Open and Distance Learning: What's in a Name? By: Sir John Daniel, President and CEO, Commonwealth of Learning // It is a tremendous pleasure to be back at the Cambridge conference, which over its eleven manifestations has truly become an institution in the world of distance education. I congratulate Roger Mills and Alan Tait and all those who have developed and nurtured this event over the years. The Commonwealth of Learning is proud to have given the conference some modest support. // No series of conferences in our field has achieved the same longevity of people and focus. Because the field of open and distance learning has evolved rapidly over the lifetime of these conferences, this longevity has been particularly important. Ours is faddish area of education, partly because of its link with technology. These fads, whether passing fashions or real trends, make the programmes of other conferences on distance weave around between one theme and another. // This conference has maintained a steady focus on student support, or what I usually call the interactive component of distance learning, using the term interaction to mean real communication between real people. This focus has made the Cambridge Conference a steady fountain of good sense about distance education. A nice example of the fecund influence of the water from that fountain was last year's report of the Council on Higher Education in South Africa on Enhancing the contribution of Distance Higher Education in South Africa (2004). This excellent report, one of the most sensible documents written about distance education in recent years, pays a fulsome tribute to the seminar that its authors held in parallel with your 2003 Cambridge Conference. I shall come back to this South African report a little later.

Open and Distance Learning (ODL),Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
United Kingdom