Integrating Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in education is highly challenging, especially in the higher education sector. While there are several factors for successful integration of ICTs in teaching and learning, strong leadership support and institutional commitment play significant role. Leadership in education has been regarded as a critical component in successful ICT integration in education. While distributed leadership and shared responsibility are necessary to sustain any innovation and implementation of technology plan in higher education, the vision of leadership with reference to ICTs become important in taking initiatives, and develop action plan for implementation. A successful ICT leader in education should be able to lead from the front to not only give vision, but also manage change and influence major stakeholders to buy-in. With this background, our regional centre in New Delhi – the Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia – started a comprehensive engagement with top leaders of higher education institutions in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh over a period of three years (2012-2015). We organized regional workshops for Vice Chancellors, Pro Vice Chancellors and Deans of Open Universities and other universities to provide them a platform to discuss issues related to use of ICTs in teaching and learning in higher education; and assist them in developing a strategic plan and roadmap for ICT application in all activities of their universities.
These engagements resulted in working with over 100 top higher education leaders of the three countries, including the Ministries of Education, University Grants Commission, and the Universities. Two major issues discussed in the deliberations were developing institutional strategic plan for eLearning and creating environment for sharing educational and research resources.
As a result of these engagements, two Open Universities in India – the Vardhaman Mahaveer Open University, Kota and Krishna Kanta Handiqui State Open University, Gauhati developed OER policy. The Krishna University, Machilipatnam (an affiliating university located in Andhra Pradesh, India) developed an ICT Policy for this new university catering largely to rural population. In Bangladesh, it was for the first time that all the universities leaders attended a meeting organized by the Bangladesh Open University and appreciated the role of Open and Distance Learning. These leaders from Bangladesh are now planning to integrate eLearning extensively in their course offerings. In Sri Lanka, which has developed an Open and Distance Learning policy for higher education, the leaders are now looking forward to strengthen the distance education provisions in the public universities.