A Clear Footprint of Open, Flexible, and Distance Education

Barcelona (E), June 2022 - The theme of the UNESCO World Higher Education Conference 2022 that took place in Barcelona, 18-20 May, was "Reinventing Higher Education for a Sustainable Future". Against the backdrop of rapidly changing societies, the digital transformation, climate change, and not least the COVID-19 crisis, flexible learning pathways and open, online, and distance education were high on the agenda. ICDE participated in two sessions as part of the main programme.

Together with Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU), ICDE organised a roundtable titled "Quality in Online, Open, and Distance Higher Education across Borders - a Multi-Sectorial, Cross-country Policy Dialogue". The 75-minute interactive panel discussion focused on quality enhancement of open, flexible, and distance higher education across borders and featured contributions by executive leaders from ICDE member institutions from various regions. The roundtable was moderated by ICDE Secretary General, Torunn Gjelsvik.

The discussion’s point of departure was the Consortium for the Benchmarking Framework for Online, Open, Smart, and Technology-Enhanced Higher Education, initiated by HBMSU. The framework is being developed collaboratively by consortium members from different world regions and includes quality dimensions and indicators that particularly reflect online, open, and distance higher education.

The panel discussed both the potential and challenges related to quality assurance of online, open, and distance education from their institutional and regional perspectives. An important insight was how the benchmarking framework can help in building multi-stakeholder collaboration in quality assurance and enhancement of online, open, and distance education regionally and globally.

The session demonstrated to the fullest that global partnerships and international collaboration through openness and transparency are crucial for building trust and obtaining continuous quality enhancement of all provisions of higher education.


Watch the recording here.