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New address, from December 2014

Please note that COL is moving offices in December.
New address:
   4710 Kingsway, Suite 2500
   Burnaby, BC  V5H 4M2

All other contact details remain the same.

COL Employment opportunities

Education Specialist – Healthy Communities
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Application deadline: 25 November 2014

Linda Sissons named Chair of the Commonwealth of Learning

Dr. Linda Sissons, CNZM, Chief Executive Officer of New Zealand’s Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec), has been named Chair of the Board of Governors of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL). She takes on her new role as the Honourable Burchell Whiteman, OJ, steps down after 12 years on the Board and eight years as Chair.

Connections/EdTech News

Connections/EdTech News, July 2014:
COL newsletter, July 2014; includes: Consultations held with COL Focal Points; Pacific Island Ministers call for ICT and OER; Gender guidelines for open schools; Lifelong Learning for Farmers and broom magic; Antigua & Barbuda produces “Open Textbooks”; Editorial: National OER policies needed; In Focus: How ROYTEC joined VUSSC, embraced OER; Issues in eLearning video series; New Resources; People; EdTech News: Big Data and Linked Data: How important is data in education for development?; Aptus testers find it “relevant” and “robust”; Moodle 2.7, A welcome release; ownClowd; and more...

MOOC on MOOCs: What You Need to Know About MOOCs

This MOOC about MOOCs is offered and certified by the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur and the Commonwealth of Learning, with the TEQIP (Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme, Government of India). It runs from 5 September 2014, for four weeks, with approximately four hours per week learner time expected. This course is about key concepts, methods and practices in the MOOC paradigm. Its focus will be on explaining principles and practices for both the non-technical as well as technical audience. Registration is open; the course is free of charge and there are no prerequisites.

Aptus testers find it “relevant” and “robust”

During April to June, COL’s Aptus system was made available for performance testing to volunteers at 20 sites in 15 countries. Aptus is a “Classroom Without Walls” that facilitates content sharing and learning interaction through WiFi, without requiring Internet connections.

Gender resources

COL's Gender page and Gender Micro-site have recently been updated.  Useful and relevant information about COL’s work to advance gender equality and girls’ and women’s empowerment through open and distance learning, along with gender-related resource materials and links are presented in a way that is more accessible and user-friendly.

COL President announces new Pacific Centre for Flexible & Open Learning for Development

COL was represented at the recent annual meeting of Pacific Island Ministers of Education, hosted by the Government of the Cook Islands, under the aegis of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, and announced the establishment of a regional centre for open and distance learning. COL President, Professor Asha Kanwar, delivered the keynote address and also provided updates of the work of COL in the region, which addresses country needs. COL is particularly active in the Pacific with initiatives that help provide flexible options in open schooling and technical/vocational education, as well as in coordinating the activities of the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC).


COL’s Seventh Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning was held in Abuja, Nigeria from 2 – 6, December 2013. It was a dynamic event with a variety of formats that enabled participation, knowledge sharing, learning and networking on the five themes. Keynote presentations – including a Forum sum-up, "Takeaways, Prospects" by COL President, Professor Asha Kanwar – daily newsletters, social media links, Excellence in Distance Education Award winners and photos are available online.

Excellence in Distance Education Awards

At PCF7, COL recognised nine individuals and five institutions for Excellence in Distance Education. 

New Journal from COL

COL has launched the Journal of Learning for Development. The new online journal provides a forum for the publication of research with a focus on innovation in learning, in particular but not exclusively open and distance learning, and its contribution to development. Content includes interventions that change social and/or economic relations, especially in terms of improving equity.

COL Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Congratulatory messages and special Prezi" presentation.

L3Farmers wins “Making a Difference Award” award

At a gala event held in London at the end of June – far away from the developing rural communities it serves – COL’s Lifelong Learning for Farmers programme, and specifically its work with learning through mobile phones, won a 2013 Nexus Commonwealth Award for “Making a Difference” for a project that has delivered particular impact over the past year, and has the potential to be replicated across the Commonwealth.

New resources


Knowledge Series:
   - Creating, Using and Sharing Open Educational Resources
   - Marketing and Branding of Open and Distance Learning

Perspectives on Open and Distance Learning: Increasing Access through Mobile Learning
Increasing Access through Mobile Learning contributes to the advancement of the mLearning field by presenting comprehensive, up-to-date information about its current state and emerging potential. This book will help educators and trainers in designing, developing and implementing high-quality mLearning curricula, materials and delivery modes that use the latest mobile applications and technologies. The 16 chapters, written by 30 contributors from around the world, address a wide range of topics, from operational practicalities and best practices to challenges and future opportunities.

Perspectives on Open and Distance Learning: Open Schooling with Open Educational Resources: Opening doors, creating opportunities
Open educational resources (OER) offer a practical, workable solution to the challenges of educating outlying populations. Six countries — Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Seychelles, Trinidad and Tobago and Zambia — participated in this ambitious, ground-breaking project to train educators to create a bank of OER that could be used in both conventional and open schools by both school-age children and adult learners. 

Perspectives on Open and Distance Learning: Women and Leadership in Open and Distance Learning and Development
Women’s empowerment and gender equality are central to the Commonwealth of Learning’s agenda of “learning for development”. Women and Leadership in Open and Distance Learning and Development clearly and eloquently demonstrates that women’s leadership is a critical step in promoting gender equality. The authors and editors of this book are such leaders. Women and Leadership provides a unique set of insights into the aspirations, visions, setbacks, disappointments, breakthroughs and successes of 12 remarkable women who are, or have been, engaged in open and distance education and in helping other women to become leaders.

Perspectives on Open and Distance Learning: Open Educational Resources: Innovation, Research and Practice
Open Educational Resources (OER) – that is, teaching, learning and research materials that their owners make free to others to use, revise and share – offer a powerful means of expanding the reach and effectiveness of worldwide education. This book, initiated by the UNESCO/COL Chair in OER, is one in a series of publications by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) examining OER. It describes the movement in detail, providing readers with insight into OER’s significant benefits, its theory and practice, and its achievements and challenges. The 16 chapters, written by some of the leading international experts on the subject, are organised into four parts by theme: OER in Academia, OER in Practice, Diffusion of OER, Producing, Sharing and Using OER.

Perspectives on Open and Distance Learning: Open Educational Resources: An Asian Perspective
The 25 contributors to this book bring an impressive level and breadth of expertise, innovation and dedication to researching, developing and advocating for OER. Through a combination of quantitative studies and qualitative analyses, they provide valuable, instructive information and insights from throughout Asia. Open Educational Resources: An Asian Perspective demonstrates that OER development is thriving in Asia — in different economies, amongst different types of stakeholders and with varied approaches to open licensing.

Perspectives on Open and Distance Learning: Open Educational Resources and Change in Higher Education: Reflections from Practice
The 28 contributors to this book bring to many questions about open educational resources (OER) a wealth of knowledge, experience and insights about OER policy and practice at both national and international levels. With some astute caveats, their findings collectively affirm the promise of OER as a way of providing enhanced quality education to potentially greater numbers of students. Policy makers and practitioners will be able to draw many precepts and possibilities from the rich variety of experience and reflection contained within this volume.

Survey on Governments’ Open Educational Resources (OER) Policies
This report provides an overview of the findings of the COL/UNESCO survey on OER policies and activity across all countries of the world, and puts forward some suggestions for promoting the use and development of OER and overcoming current obstacles to its implementation.

Quality Assurance Toolkit for Open and Distance Non-formal Education
Non-formal education and training is an extremely wide field, encompassing themes with an enormous and ever-increasing need, including adult literacy, basic education for out-of-school children, life skills, work skills, gender equity and community development. Evidence of direct and tangible benefits to individuals, communities and economies must be demonstrated if these programmes are to receive the funding and support that they need. QA systems applied in educational contexts are generally concerned with inputs — how much money is spent, what staffing, resources and support are provided, what kinds of teaching and learning are involved, and so on. There is an assumption — not always fulfilled — that the higher the standards of the inputs, the higher the quality of the outputs. In this toolkit, we propose a different approach: the evaluation of the programmes’ outcomes, outputs and impacts.

Guidelines for OER in Higher Education
Stemming from the open educational resources (OER) policy forum last December and wide consultation, UNESCO and COL have developed Guidelines for OER in Higher Education. The guidelines are intended to help key stakeholder groups (governments, higher education institutions, teaching staff, student bodies, quality assurance/accreditation bodies and academic recognition bodies) as they assess the implications of OER for their future policies and actions. Sir John Daniel and UNESCO Director-General Ms. Irina Bokova will launch the publication at the UNESCO General Conference on 1 November.

A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER)
Prepared by Neil Butcher for the Commonwealth of Learning & UNESCO
Edited by Asha Kanwar (COL) and Stamenka Uvalić-Trumbić (UNESCO)
A summary of the key issues as FAQs: to provide readers with a quick and user-friendly introduction to Open Educational Resources (OER) and some of the key issues to think about when exploring how to use OER most effectively.
Plus: A comprehensive analysis of these issues.
And: A set of appendices, containing more detail.

Instructional Design Tool
Developing quality course materials requires a specific set of skills. COL’s new Instructional Design Tool is a rigorous, yet simple resource that supports the development of quality courses and learning materials. Through this tool, COL is encouraging institutions to maximise the effectiveness, efficiency and appeal of the learning experience.

The Commonwealth of Learning Review and Improvement Model (COL RIM) for Higher Education Institutions

COL blog

COL’s blog is encouraging interaction, discussion and knowledge sharing on issues related to education for development. The blog explores areas such as e-learning, gender, educational technology, livelihoods, best practices, news and book reviews. COL’s Educational Specialists will also contribute podcasts to help expand dialogue on relevant issues.

Gender micro-site

COL's Gender micro-site has been designed to provide a one-stop, comprehensive platform to access print and electronic resources on gender and open, distance and technology-mediated learning (ODL) with a special emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT). The main purpose of developing this gender micro-site is to provide knowledge and information on gender and ODL/ICT so as to raise awareness and to provide tools to ODL policymakers and practitioners to help them address gender concerns in their areas of competence.

Quality Assurance micro-site

COL's Quality Assurance micro-site has been designed to provide a single, convenient access point to existing resources in quality assurance in open and distance learning (ODL).  We hope that it will be of particular use to institutions, researchers and governments seeking to establish benchmarks for quality provision and to all those who are interested in devising effective systems for the review and evaluation of ODL programmes.

Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC)

On behalf of Commonwealth Ministers of Education, COL is co-ordinating the development of a Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC). Twenty six countries are now actively engaged in making the VUSSC a reality. VUSSC countries have chosen to focus on creating postsecondary, skills-related courses in areas such as tourism, entrepreneurship, professional development, disaster management and a range of technical and vocational subjects. These non-proprietary, electronically-held course materials, which can readily be adapted to the specific context of each country, are used in the offering of credit-bearing qualifications in the countries' post-secondary institutions, strengthening their educational capacity and outreach. Small states thus become active contributors to global development and leaders in educational reform through the innovative use of information and communications technologies (ICTs). The VUSSC is throwing a wide bridge across the digital divide.


  COL publications:

  Consultants' reports and research studies:

Speeches and presentations:


COL issues regular electronic bulletins. To be added to COL's mailing list and/or electronic (email) distribution list please send your request to:


COL offers a CD-ROM (updated regularly) that contains our most popular knowledge resources and recent publications and reports, along with a video on COL and its work. It is available upon request from COL:



The Commonwealth of Learning's focus is in strengthening institutions in developing Commonwealth countries that are striving to provide affordable education to larger numbers of their citizens.

COL IS NOT an educational institution. It does not register students and does not directly offer courses, programmes of study, scholarships or bursaries.

COL DOES NOT provide an accreditation service and does not endorse institutions or programmes. COL is also unable to provide directories of courses available in the Commonwealth.

Please see: About COL for more information.