Open University to host Asia’s most influential open and distance learning conference

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The 34th Annual Conference of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU), the biggest and the most influential Open and Distance Learning (ODL) forum in the region, will be hosted by The Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) from 1 to 3 June. 

Owing to the pandemic crisis, the conference will be an entirely online event controlled and run at the central campus of OUSL in Colombo by the university staff. 

The conference brings together over 100 paper presenters from Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, China, Vietnam and Japan. In addition, there will be six keynote speakers, a panel discussion and two workshops representing the ODL discipline in the modern world. 

The theme of the conference is ‘Opening minds for a sustainable future: Re-orienting ODL to surmount challenges.’ This theme relates to the concept of holistic and transformational education as defined by UNESCO including the following: 

  • Learning content and outcomes that empower informed decisions and responsible actions on critical issues such as climate change, biodiversity, disaster risk reduction. 
  • Pedagogy and learning environments that focus on learner-centred teaching enabling exploratory, action oriented and transformative learning. 
  • Engagement in learning and promoting core competencies such as critical and systematic thinking, collaborative decision making, and taking responsibility for present and future generations. 
  • Empowerment of learners of any age, in any educational context, to transform themselves and the society they live in. 

These address the Education 2030 Agenda of UNESCO, targeting the Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which aim to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all. 

It is our belief that the 34th Annual Conference of AAOU will provide the much-needed forum for Open and Distance Learning (ODL) practitioners, leaders, experts, influencers, providers and decision makers to discuss opportunities, possibilities and challenges, and exchange views and ideas in relation to the progression in achieving the goals of SDG 

Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) is a non-profit organisation of higher learning institutions founded in 1987. It promotes education by distance teaching systems, as well as professional and ethical standards; develops potentialities of ODL; cooperates with official bodies and others, directly or indirectly interested in ODL; and facilitates cooperation with other similar regional and international bodies. It also strives to widen the educational opportunities available to all people in Asia and to improve the quality of the institutions in terms of their educational management, teaching and research. 

At present, AAOU has a total of 61 member institutions, with 46 being Full Members and 15 being Associate Members. The seven founding members of the AAOU are Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) of India, Universitas Terbuka (UT) of Indonesia, Japan University of the Air (now the Open University of Japan – OUJ), Korean Air and Correspondence University (now the Korean National Open University – KNOU), Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) of Pakistan, The Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) and the Sukothai Thammathirat Open University (STOU) of Thailand. 

The Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) is the premier distance education institution in Sri Lanka providing higher educational opportunities to a large spectrum of students in the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode. Being an institution that promotes lifelong learning, there are no strict admission criteria, other than being over 18 years of age, with the entry point to the university being decided by the prior qualifications of the applicant. OUSL celebrated its 40 years of existence in 2020 as a progressive and inclusive educational institution. The university hopes to absorb the new learning of this conference and continue to provide the nation with enhanced teaching and learning experiences.

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