COL’s Seventh Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF7) will be held in Abuja, Nigeria from 2 - 6 December 2013, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). The Forum will address "Open Learning for Development: Towards Empowerment and Transformation" through five themes: "Girls’ and Women’s Education", "Skills Development", "Promoting Open Educational Resources (OER)", "Innovation and Technology" and "Institutional Development".
PCF website: www.pcf7.net
Delegate registration: www.col.org/pcf7registrations
Abstract submission: www.col.org/pcf7submissions.
In response to several requests, the submission deadline has been extended to 15 June 2013.
COL and NOUN invite abstracts of papers and proposals for various formats of PCF7 participation. All papers and proposals must address one of PCF7's five themes (see below).
PCF7 is a dynamic event with a variety of formats to enable participation, knowledge sharing, learning and networking on the five themes. Apart from paper presentations PCF7 will also have a diverse range of formats that are intended to address the interests and expectations of different participants. The idea is to promote dialogue, sharing, networking and collaboration among all participants. These formats include: plenary and parallel sessions, panel discussions, training workshops, open networking streams, social networking and online media, roundtables, marketplace, “show and tell”, etc. We are open to your suggestions. For a more detailed explanation of proposed PCF7 formats, please see PDF file at the top of the right-hand column on this page.
- 15 June 2013 – Deadline for abstracts and proposals
Deadline extended in response to several requests
30 June 2013 – Notification of acceptance of abstracts proposals with feedback
31 July 2013 – Last date for submission of full papers
31 August 2013 – Notification of acceptance of full papers
Each of the themes will explore in depth a number of past and contemporary issues and challenges and how the potentials of open and distance learning (ODL) and appropriate technology can be harnessed or are being used to address them. In addition there will be under each theme analytical discussions of case studies, models, tools and approaches on the use of ODL to promote learning for development.
Girls’ and Women’s Education:
Recent UN statistics report that around 75 million girls in the developing world are not in school and that the transition to secondary and tertiary education among girls is limited. Similarly, 64% of the adult illiterate in the developing world are women affecting agriculture, health and formal/informal sectors. Closing the gender gap is not only a matter of human rights and equity; it is also one of efficiency and economic productivity. ODL offers part of the solution to address the huge challenge.
This theme will inter alia focus on:
Socio-economic, political, socio-cultural, systemic and curricula constraints that engender and or reinforce gender disparities in education and how the use of ODL can help address them.
Perspectives, methodologies and options presented by Open and Distance Learning for broadening access to education and strengthening girls’ education and women’s learning leading to empowerment, transformation and development.
Policies and strategies that will promote ICT opportunities for women and girls and create an enabling environment to support their self-determination and economic empowerment.
The cost-effective use of ODL to address girls’ and women’s lack of equitable access to education, particularly vocational training and apprenticeship.
How ODL and ICT are used to address gender disparities in formal education and non-formal learning.
Skills for developing countries cover a wide spectrum from high level skills for growth and lower level skills for poverty reduction. This theme will explore how open, distance and flexible learning (ODFL) supports skills development across the spectrum.
Academics, practitioners and policy makers will share case studies and evaluations of innovative approaches of both formal and non-formal skills development which contribute to improving access, quality and efficiency. We hope to hear from both formal sector institutions and NGOs and CBOs.
Of particular interest is teacher education which is delivered through ODFL in most Commonwealth countries. Teacher educators are encouraged to share their expositions of distance teacher training, the challenges they face and how these challenges are overcome. Another focal area is the informal sector which remains a key source of work for the poor in developing countries. We will explore how innovation and the use of educational media and technology in flexible and blended approaches can transform the provision of relevant skills development for the informal sector. Some of the key areas that will be focused on include:
- Technology innovation in ODFL in skills development.
- Using ODL for teacher professional development in the context of EFA and the MDG goals.
- Gender equity in skills development – how do we find the balance?
- Technical and vocational skills development through ODFL.
Promoting Open Educational Resources (OER):
The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement and models have great potential to transform education and improve access at all levels. Learning materials published as OER are widely available and the momentum for developing more OER has never been greater. As well, the learner community is now driving OER through the use of social media. However, use and access alone are insufficient. We need to also focus on quality and the costs of producing quality OER. Some of the important dimensions of OER to be covered include:
- The potentials of OER in promoting access to and enhancing the quality of education, both formal and non-formal.
- The digital divide and the gender gap in the development and use of OER.
- The political economy of OER development, dissemination and utilisation.
- Institutional and national contexts and how they impede or promote OER development, adaptation and utilisation.
- The business case for OER.
Innovation and Technology:
New ideas and tools are critical if learning is to meet the challenges of development. Technology is seen as a strategy to enhance the access in education and learning particularly to reach the unreached such as the semi-literate and illiterate socially disadvantaged groups and communities. From print to mobile devices, including tablets, technology is a central feature of ODL. However innovation also concerns social processes and the ways in which technologies are applied. This broad-based theme will cover a range of issues, some of which include, but not limited to:
- Recent technological developments and their implications for the use of ODL in formal, non-formal and informal learning.
- Innovative and cost effective uses of ODL and technology in education.
- Challenges and constraints in harnessing technology and ODL for development.
- Gender equality considerations in access, technology development, and innovation.
Institutional capacity is an important determinant of the quality, access and learner success in ODL. Resources invested in institutional development, especially in governance structures, quality systems and leadership can create a long term and sustainable impact on ODL growth in a given region and help enhance the credibility of ODL systems. This theme will cover a vast array of issues including:
- The emerging challenges and resultant developmental imperatives facing ODL institutions and development organisations, including civil society organisations.
- Institutional capacity to manage and drive change.
- Adoption and use of technology for institution building.
- Design and management of systems responsive to learners, employees and society.
- Governance and stakeholder relations including accountability and sources of institutional relative advantage.
- Attracting and retaining talent in Institutions/ Making ODL institutions the preferred employers.
- Finance models for institutions and development organisations.
- The culture of quality.
These issues will be examined through best practices and case studies of approaches applied and lessons drawn as well as through proposed strategies for addressing the challenges for institutional development in times to come.
Established in 1988, the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) was inspired by the vision that the peoples of the Commonwealth must and can have access to knowledge, regardless of where they live and whether they are rich or poor. Member governments have given COL a mandate to encourage the development and sharing of open and distance learning knowledge, materials, expertise, technologies and other resources. Working with, and providing services to hundreds of institutions throughout the 54-member Commonwealth, COL is helping to increase the capacities of developing nations to meet the demands for improving access to quality education and training.
COL's Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning is held biennially. It is co-hosted with different partners in different regions of the Commonwealth each time. The five-day programme is designed to explore applications of open and distance learning in widening educational access, bridging the digital divide and advancing the social and economic development of communities and nations at large. The Forum's focus is on topics relating to developing countries and participation of practitioners from these countries. COL's Excellence in Distance Education Awards are also presented at the Forum.
The Sixth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF6) took place from 24 - 28 November 2010 at Le Méridien Cochin Resort & Convention Centre (Kochi, Kerala), India, in partnership with India's Indira Gandhi National Open University. Theme: "Access & Success in Learning: Global Development Perspectives."
The Fifth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF5) was held in London, from 13-17 July 2008, hosted in collaboration with the University of London. Over 700 educators from more than 70 countries explored how open and distance learning can help achieve international development goals and education for all.
The Commonwealth of Learning held the First Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning in Brunei Darussalam, followed by the Second Forum in 2002 in Durban, South Africa. The Third Pan-Commonwealth Forum was held 4-8 July 2004 in Dunedin, New Zealand, and PCF4 was held in Ocho Rios, Jamaica from 30 October - 3 November 2006.