Invitations have been extended to speakers from various international Open/Distance learning Institutes/universities, ministries and department of education. We are expecting confirmations from eminent scholars in the ODL space from across the globe to speak and share their view points at the conference.




Dr. Swati Mujumdar
Director, SCDL, Vice President, Symbiosis Foundation, Principal Director, Symbiosis Open Education Society, Founding Pro- Chancellor, Symbiosis University of Applied Sciences Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India, Member, National Advisory Committee Skill Development, GOI.

Dr. Swati Mujumdar is the Director of Symbiosis Center for Distance Learning (SCDL), an institute which has been imparting quality distance education programs, since 2001. Dr. Swati has introduced several innovative practices in ODL, and under her able leadership SCDL has grown exponentially in the last decade and half, to become India’s leading distance education institute. She is now setting up a Private Skills and Open University in Pune, India.

A visionary in the field of education, Dr. Swati has set up India’s first Skill Development University in Madhya Pradesh, India, and is the founding Pro- Chancellor of the University, She has chaired the Vocational Education & Skill Development Committee of Govt. of Maharashtra for defining the State’s Policy in this regard. She was also a member of the working group of MHRD and Planning Commission for providing inputs in the area of Vocational Education and Skill Development to GOI for the XII Five year plan. Dr. Swati has been a recipient of several awards.

"Being the prime mover of the Conference, Dr. Swati will share with the delegates, her insights on the takeaway from the Conference."

Prof. Mandla Makhanya
Principal and Vice Chancellor, the University of South Africa (Unisa). President of the Executive Committee of ICDE.

Professor Mandla Makhanya is Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of South Africa (Unisa). He was previously Unisa’s Pro Vice-Chancellor. Recently, the University of Athabasca in Canada conferred an honorary doctorate on Prof Makhanya in recognition of his outstanding leadership at Unisa and his contribution as a distinguished scholar in distance education.

Prof Makhanya is Referee for the National Research Foundation (NRF) specialising in refereeing applications for funding, grants and post-graduate scholarships (Sociology, Development Studies, and Business Administration & Social Work) and Referee for the Centre for Development and Enterprise. He is an external Examiner in a number of Universities in South Africa.

Professor Mandla Makhanya believes “The opportunities delivered by digital, open and flexible learning will increase access, equity, quality and relevance, and narrow the gap between what is taught at tertiary education institutions and what economies and societies demand. Open Distance and Flexible higher Education has claimed its space and its operations in the higher education domain as a distinct entity that has not impacted negatively on the higher education sector in general. Rather we have seen the emergence of a growing synergy and convergence between the two sectors that alludes to what we view as the future of higher education”.

Professor Mandla Makhanya will be the Guest of Honour at the Inaugural of ICDE International Conference.


Prof. Gard Titlestad
Secretary General, ICDE

Gard Titlestad is the Secretary General of ICDE. ICDE works in close partnership with UNESCO in having online, open and flexible higher education contributing to the new Sustainable Development Goal 4, Education 2030: Towards inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all Gard is a member of the Governing Board for the UNESCO Institute for IT in Education, IITE. ICDE publish the platinum open access journal Open Praxis. He is member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Indian Journal of Open Learning and the Editorial board of the American Journal of Distance Education.

Gard is also a recognized speaker on trends and developments in education, in particular related to digitalization – and also to issues and projects ICDE involves into.

Gard joined ICDE in 2011 after serving at the Nordic Council of Ministers, NCM, in Copenhagen, Denmark, as director for the Department of Knowledge and Welfare.

Prof. Gard will be a part of the panel sharing his views on the take away from the Conference.


Prof. Belinda Tynan
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education) and Vice President, RMIT

Professor Belinda Tynan is currently Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education) and Vice President at RMIT. Previously Pro Vice Chancellor at the Open University in the UK. She has 30 years of experience within the education sector and is a champion of open and distance education. She has 70+ refereed publications to her name. She is currently a member of the ICDE Executive Committee and a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK).

Prof Belinda Tynan is a plenary speaker at the ICDE Conference. She will be addressing the delegates on 10th March 2016 on the topic given below.

Title: Innovation, context and learners

“The drivers of innovation are many and contextualised. Certainly the way in which technologies have altered the way that we engage with the world we live in is forcing a rethink of how we go about education. Technologies can in part support our aspirations for amazing learning outcomes for our learners. Understanding who our learners are and how they use technologies in their day-to-day remains instructive even though it may seem like going over old ground. The future of open and distance education is certainly changing and innovation is essential for its own transformation to meet the emerging behaviours and needs of the next generation of learners”.


Prof. Alan Tait
Emeritus Professor of Distance Education and Development Open University, UK

Alan Tait is Emeritus Professor of Distance Education and Development at the Open University, UK, and was Director of International Development and Teacher Education, responsible for the strategic direction of major projects in sub-Saharan Africa, Bangladesh, and India, from 2013-2015. He was formerly Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Dean of Faculty, and is Visiting Professor at Aalborg University, Denmark, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Open University of Kong Kong, and a senior member of St Edmunds College, University of Cambridge. Alan has edited Open Learning, the European Journal of Distance and E-Learning (EURODL) and was founding Editor in Chief of the Journal of Learning and Development.

Alan is a trained mentor and coach, and volunteers with Mind. He was Chair of the European Distance and E-Learning Network (EDEN) NAP Steering Committee 2002-2005, and he served as President of ICDE associate member, EDEN, from 2007-2010. Prior to this, he was Editor of the journal Open learning from 1989-1998, joint Series Editor of the Routledge Series Studies in Distance Education and Co-Director of the Cambridge International Conference on Open and Distance Learning.

Prof Alan will be speaking on the topic given below
"Technology in support of learning is nothing new, in fact it goes back millennia. Technology has also supported the mobility of knowledge and the reach of education for many thousands of years. But we are faced with challenges set by the UN Sustainable Development Goals for the next 15 years that demand a step change in the ways that societies view scale of opportunity and reach to social sectors, gender equity and rural areas. All of this has to be managed with quality of learning and teaching equally high on the agenda. This forms the background to the new UNESCO led initiative on quality in Higher Education, with ICDE as a senior partner, on which a progress report will be given."


Tan Sri Emeritus Prof. Dr. Gajaraj Dhanarajan
Chairman, Board of Governors & Former Vice Chancellor, Wawasan Open University

Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Dr Gajaraj Dhanarajan is Chairman, Board of Governors & Former Vice Chancellor, Wawasan Open University.

As one of the world’s leading advocate and expert on Open and Distance Learning, he has contributed to global discussion on the subject and further associated with the work of international development agencies.

Prof. Dhanrajan believes that “The demand for better products, improved services, greater transparency and clearer accountability is no longer an item of just academic debate; it is an item for serious academic practice. His presentation will explore the challenges confronting those who provide open higher education to put in place systems and products reflecting the highest levels quality in real and virtual space.”

Prof Dr Gajaraj Dhanarajan will address the conference on ‘Quality in ODL’ in the plenary session on Quality.

Prof. will also be panelist in the discussion on Takeaways from the Conference and share his thoughts on the take away from the Conference.


Padmashree Professor N R Madhava Menon
Chairman, Distance Education Reform Committee, MHRD, Founder Vice-Chancellor, NLIU, Bangalore and National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata, Hon Professor and IBA Chair on Continuing Legal Education, NLSIU, Bangalore and Chairman, Menon Institute of Legal Advocacy Training, Trivandrum.

Prof. Madhava Menon was appointed by the Union Government as a member of the Commission on Centre-State Relations. He has also served as the Chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, and later, as the Chairman of the Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram. He headed the central government committee constituted to draft the National Policy on Criminal Justice and served as the Commission on Equal Opportunity. He is a former member of Law Commission of India and has been a member of the Committee on Restructuring of Higher Education in India as well as the Criminal Justice Reform committee. He was a member of the Delhi University panel which liaised with universities from the United States such as Harvard, Columbia, Michigan and Yale. Madhava Menon is also an advisor to the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute, Canada.

Prof. Madhava Menon is the founder Director of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) and the National Judicial Academy, Bhopal and the founder Vice Chancellor of the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS).

Prof. Menon will deliver his expertise on the
'Policy Framework in ODL & best practices in Asia'.


Wang Libing
Professor of Education, Zhejiang University, P.R. China

Prof. Wang Libing has been closely linked with UNESCO as he was appointed as Director of UNESCO-APEID Associated Centre at Zhejiang University and Secretary of the Global University Network for Innovation – Asia and the Pacific (GUNI-AP), a UNESCO-initiated regional network that brings together leading universities in this region for experience sharing and partnership building. Dr. Wang Libing received his doctoral degree at Hangzhou University, China, in 1994. He specializes in comparative education, higher education policies and teacher education. He is currently a university professor at the College of Education, Zhejiang University, China. He was a visiting fellow at the University of Sussex, UK from 1992 to 1993 and at the University of Warwick, UK from 1998 to 1999. Since 2000.

He will deliver his keynote address on
‘Policy Framework in ODL & best practices in Asia’.


Prof. Anil Dattatraya Sahasrabudhe
Chairman of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati joined All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) as Chairman on 17th July 2015.

Prof. Anil D. Sahasrabudhe is presently working as Chairman & Expert Member on Various National Level Committees. Some of these include; Chairman, Basic Scientific Research (BSR), Empowered Committee of UGC, and MHRD Committees. As a Member/Fellow he is actively involved in the activities of many Professional Bodies/Societies, such as ISTE, ASME, ASI, IET, and Institution of Engineers (IE).

He will share his expertise on
'Quality practices in Distance Education’.

Prof. Prasad V.S.
Former Director National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Vice President Asia Pacific Quality Nations

Prof. Prasad will deliver keynote address on the ‘Quality practices in Distance education’. Dr. Prasad is closely associated with Open and Distance Learning in India since 1982. He is actively participated in the development of first open university in India, ie Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University and held many important academic and administrative positions in that university.

There will be many other international speakers who will be sharing their insights at the conference.
Symbiosis Centre for Distance Learning, Symbiosis Bhavan, 1065 B, Gokhale Cross Road, Model Colony, Pune - 411016, Maharashtra, India.
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