By | July 9, 2021

Around the world, open, distance and e-learning (ODeL) has come into its own, propelled to the forefront of higher education by the ongoing global pandemic. Unisa, which aspires to be a leader in the global and African ODeL landscape, is preparing to host its 2021 ODeL Virtual Conference.

This virtual gathering of scholars, researchers, practitioners and emergent scholars will take place from 4 to 6 August 2021, under the theme “Mediating Open, Distance and e-Learning in the Advent of Global Crises”.

The current global health crisis has precipitated unprecedented disruption in the higher education sector, but it is not the only crisis facing the world. The pandemic has exposed a myriad of other crises that have been hiding in plain sight, such as the persistent inequities that millions of people encounter in attempting to access various socioeconomic opportunities, including opportunities to acquire higher education.

We know that ODeL has the potential to contribute to redressing these and other inequities, provided ODeL institutions focus candidly and resolutely on quality, improved teaching and learning and optimal faculty and support structures to support their students’ success.

Therefore, the purpose of the 2021 e-conference is to generate debate and consider practical and sustainable solutions for ODeL teaching, learning and research in times of global crises, using pre-conference workshops, plenary sessions and breakaway sessions to explore the theme and various subthemes.

Subthemes under discussion range from the hi-tech to the human and organisational.

On the technology side, speakers and delegates will explore topics such as learning analytics, e-assessment, digital literacy and proficiency, technology-supported trends in ODeL and the place and role of massive open online courses (MOOCs) and open education resources (OERs).

The human and organisational elements will encompass the inclusion of marginalised students, the experiences of ODeL teaching staff during the pandemic and topics such as emerging ODeL business models, the nexus between quality, access and equity, professional development and capacity building, among others.

The programme for the e-conference is still being finalised and details about speakers, topics and time slots will be announced as and when these become available.

In the meantime, please block off 4 to 6 August 2021 in your diaries. The Unisa 2021 ODeL Virtual Conference is an event not to be missed.