This conference invites all educators working and researching from Early Childhood Education to Higher Education level to present their work in various forms i.e. paper presentations, round table discussions, and poster presentations. Please be clear this conference is not confined to open distance learning only. We are inviting researchers from all modes of education. Proceedings of the conference will not only be included in an abstract book but also the best selected papers will be published in the conference book as well as in the journals of AIOU.

Creating conditions for collaboration: Leadership and governance to advance learning and effectiveness


Collaboration in higher education—while having clear and tangible benefits for students, faculty, and institutional leadership—can also be one of the more difficult practices to establish and sustain. This represents a paradox facing institutional leaders and governing agents, who must develop an understanding of implementation challenges that exist, despite an interest in collaboration among both internal and external stakeholders (Kezar and Lester, 2009). This is particularly critical for student learning, where progress is difficult, if not impossible, without a sense of shared responsibility by everyone on campus (American Association for Higher Education, et al., 1998). Learning is also advanced through partnerships that develop among faculty, between institutions, and between institutions and other stakeholders, such as employers. Building shared responsibility—and encouraging and incenting collaboration—requires strong leadership among faculty, administration, and governing agents. Without proper leadership, decision-making can be frayed and drive political agendas more than ensure the quality of learning (Usman, 2014). This presentation will address the collaboration “paradox”, and the role of institutional leadership and governing agents in creating conditions for collaboration to flourish. This can occur through shared visioning, incentive systems, accountability mechanisms, and strong and effective partnerships between and among internal and external stakeholders, including faculty and students, institutional leadership, and governing entities.  

Enabling collaborative online learning – extending the discussion


As education moves from a teacher-centred to an increasingly learner-centred pedagogy, the focus also moves from traditional information transfer to collaborative discovery and production. This transition is enabled largely by the use of digital media and online learning environments. Students need to learn how to find and critically assess information, how to build professional networks, how to collaborate effectively and how to focus in a rich and often highly distracting online environment. Teachers need competence development and support to manage a more challenging and complex role as they move from being subject authorities to also functioning as mentors, tutors, facilitators and advisors. These new competences are often termed 21st century skills, but are in fact the application of traditional academic skills but applied to the wider context of the internet. Effective learning requires a social context and each learner needs to feel recognized and respectedparticipants in a supportive community. Only when this happens can truly collaborative learning take place since collaboration is so strongly dependent on trust, security and respect. In many ways, the process of transforming a course into a genuine community of practice is very similar in both physical and online settings. Teachers need to devote time and energy to helping students get acquainted with their new learning environment, get to know their fellow students and learn the meta-skills required for the course (learning activities, study skills, collaboration). To enable this, teachers need to develop their skills in course design in line with the models proposed by, amongst others, D. Laurillard (2013), G. Salmon (2013) and G. Conole (2012). In addition teachers need to move towards greater collaboration in course design, working in multi-skilled teams together with librarians, educational technicians and media specialists. The limitation of traditional learning spaces is that there is a very limited amount of contact time between teachers and students. The pedagogical use of online tools can extend this contact time almost indefinitely, enabling teachers to provide pre-recorded input to students (flipped classroom), start an online discussion of the main issues in preparation for the classroom meeting and continue the classroom discussion online afterwards. In this way, all students have a voice, including those who prefer to reflect first and are thus reluctant to speak in front of their peers in the physical classroom. The classroom session can thus focus on activity, investigation and deeper discussion and this can also be the case if the classroom session is replaced by a synchronous online seminar.

Research as Transformative Professional Development for the 21st Century


Powerful economic, technological and sustainability imperatives are competing to rapidly transform our world. We face the huge challenge of designing modern curricula and teaching methods that prepare young people (i) to participate successfully in the emerging digital workforce and economies of the 21st Century and (ii) to live in ways that ensure the wellbeing of themselves and the planet in light of global crises arising from our unsustainable production and consumption practices. In this presentation, I will draw on 30 years of experience providing postgraduate professional development programs to teachers in universities and schools throughout Asia, Africa, Middle East, South Pacific, USA and Australia. During this time, I have developed a model of research as transformative learning that enables emerging educational leaders to find local answers to global questions: (i) what are the capabilities that young people need for sustainable living and working in the 21st Century? and (ii) how can professional development programs enable teachers to develop these capabilities?