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ICDE: Are we flexible enough?


ICDE Presidents' Forum 

Academic Dean, Amélé Ekué represented Globethics.net at this year's ICDE Presidents' Forum which was hosted online on the 12 April 2021. The theme this year was titled 'Creating a Global Advocacy Framework for Open, Flexible and Distance Learning', and the session was chaired by Ebba Ossiannilsson, ICDE Board and Torunn Gjelsvik, ICDE Secretary General. The idea of contributing to a global advocacy framework for Open, Flexible and Distant Learning (OFDL) was a main outcome of last year's ICDE Presidents' Forum. The Forum gathered experts to share and learn from their perspectives and experiences. 

The session attended by Globethics.net Academic Dean, Amélé Ekué focused on how to draft a global advocacy framework for OFDL, and identifying who would lead the efforts of developing regional and local tasks forces to determine the societal benefits and social responsibility factors of sustainable OFDL models. Disucssions centered around quality indicators which could be utilised to assess OFDL models. Such indicators included systems supporting asynchronous and synchronous learning activities and communication between teachers and learners; regulatory frameworks that acknowledge distance; and a culture of sharing resources, tools and best practices. Further discussions also focused on the need to address the inequality in access to learning opportunities. Breakout sessions also concluded that more stakeholders need to be included in the debates and in the advocacy initiatives, as well as increased inter-regional exchange on the standards and regulatory frameworks adapted to specific contexts. Lastly, participants emphasised the need to consider the learners' perspective at the centre throughout the process. 

You can read more about the ICDE President's Forum by clicking here

ICDE Leadership Summit

Deputy Executive Director, Lucy Howe López represented Globethics.net at the ICDE Leadership Summit, entitled 'Leadership for Responsiveness: How flexible are we?', hosted by Open Polytechnic from 8-9 April 2021. Flexibility continues to be a universally relevant theme; as things continue to change, more flexibility is needed. Efforts to understand flexibility require seeing its complexity, there are different forms of flexibility and it is not easy to strike the right balance at different stages of the education cycle. Dr Mark Nichols, Open Polytechnic and ICDE ExCom member recommended to start with learners rather than with the supply side of education. He identified the three dimensions of flexibility as scope, approach and practice. He noted that flexibility is more than students being able to watch videos in their own time. Greater flexibility is required to enable students to manage their studies alongside jobs and family commitments, to be able to pause when life events intervene. Ensuring flexibility can only be sustained through an intentional commitment, and it is important not to overestimate the capacity of technological solutions to provide flexibility.

Professor Mpine Makoe, Commonwealth of Learning chair at UNISA in South Africa, described the online and distance learning landscape in Southern Africa, and explained that the recent pandemic exposed the inequalities resulting from legacies of colonialism and apartheid with regard to access. Flexibility in practice means focusing on the space, with students being able to study anywhere, anyplace and anytime. Very few universities include flexibility as part of their mission, and it remains a largely neglected concept. Her recommendations for improving flexibility included strengthening blended and online learning, personalisation and customisation of learning, acceleration of the use of digital technologies, developing more flexible structures and systems, and addressing the social justice mandate based on open education. 

You can read more about the ICDE Leadership Summit by clicking here