VIP Forum

International Conference on Open and Innovative Education VIP Forum

VIP Forum

This forum will be on the important topic of “The Future of Open Education”. Education technology, especially AI, has brought about a paradigm shift in educational delivery. This trend applies to both open-learning institutions and conventional education institutions. Conventional institutions also extensively employ open or online approaches in their education delivery. The distinction between open education institutions and conventional ones is becoming blurred. Some open-learning institutions even attempt to transform themselves to also partially offer conventional study programmes. This drives educators to seriously raise the question: what is the future of open universities?
Lily Chan
Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive
Wawasan Open University
Professor Dr Lily Chan is the Chief Executive and Vice Chancellor of Wawasan Open University (WOU) in Penang, Malaysia.
She has been the driving force behind the University's mission of providing lifelong learning opportunities to Malaysians through distance learning for professional and personal development. She aspires to reach out to youths and adult learners who had missed out on tertiary qualifications and those seeking to equip themselves with skills to keep pace with the rapidly changing work environment.
She recently set up the School of Digital Technology (DiGiT) at WOU, a faculty which offers intensive, skills-centric degree programmes in Digital Business and Software Engineering. The DiGiT School has forged agreements with industry partners for the training and placement of its students, enabling them to acquire hands-on work experience.
WOU's innovative tagline, 'Think Tomorrow', speaks of the University's commitment to produce industry-ready graduates who can compete in today's digitally-transformed workplaces. Its online learning platforms are interactive and engaging, designed to offer an enriching student learning experience.
Professor Chan was previously the CEO of NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore until March 2019. She transformed this division into one of the most esteemed higher education entrepreneurial ecosystems that nurtured hundreds of startup companies.
Before helming NUS Enterprise, she was the Managing Director of Bio*ONE Investments, an investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board with a focus on expanding the growth of the biomedical science industry in Singapore.
In recognition of her talents and contribution, she was honoured with the Public Administration Medal (Silver) at the Singapore National Day Awards Ceremony in 2018.
With over 30 years of leadership experience in the triple helix sphere of academia, industry and government, she is focused on implementing digital distance learning initiatives to transform WOUinto a leading educational institution in the country.
In the post-pandemic era, despite increased online adoption by conventional universities, open universities are set to advance through enhanced online platforms utilizing AI and even VR, fostering greater student accessibility and engagement. Partnerships with traditional universities and industries will create specialized programs meeting job market needs and enabling smooth credit transfers. Personalized learning driven by data analytics and adaptive technologies will likely provide tailored support for students. The future of open universities promises innovation, collaboration, and a steadfast commitment to democratizing education by expanding access to diverse global learners through flexible and inclusive educational opportunities.
Melinda dela Peña Bandalaria
Chancellor
University of the Philippines Open University
Professor Melinda dela Peña Bandalaria is full professor at the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) and has been its Chancellor since 2016. She is also an Ambassador for Open Educational Resources (OERs) (2021–2024) and a member of the Executive Board (2022–2025) of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE). She was also appointed as Member of the Governing Board of the SEAMEO Regional Open Learning Centre (SEAMOLEC) for the period 2022–2025 and continues to serve as member of the Executive Committee of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU). Professor Bandalaria also served as AAOU President from 2017–2019. She spearheaded the formation of the Consortium of Distance Education Providers in the Philippines (CODEPP) which provides the platform for collaboration among academic institutions involved in offering inclusive and quality learning opportunities through this mode of instruction and the development and offering of Philippine MOOCs model. Her experience in Open Flexible and Distance eLearning spans more than 25 years doing teaching, developing course packages and research in this mode of delivering instruction. She has published numerous book chapters, journal articles and is often invited to speak in international fora and conferences. Her research interests include Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in an OFDeL setting; open distance eLearning; ICT for Education and Development; and Corporate Social Responsibility Communication. Her contributions to the field of OFDeL had been recognized through the Meritorious Service Award conferred by the AAOU in 2021; and the Prize of Excellence conferred by the ICDE also in 2021.
The intensive use of modern ICTs during the COVID-19 pandemic has enabled conventional universities to continue doing online learning as another business model and ensure sustainability of operations in the face of other possible learning disruptions. With the integration of the technologies to the education ecosystem, offering programs in the distance education mode to reach more learners including those beyond the usual geographical limits has become possible.
Is this a threat to Open Universities? Open Universities offer more than just providing an option in terms of instructional delivery. Anchored on the philosophy of openness and inclusion, which is the essence of their establishment, Open Universities had always been challenged to be innovative in the use of technologies to perform this mission resulting to transformative models of education delivery. This will continue to define the distinct position of open universities. This presentation will discuss these transformative models which can also be an articulation of the future of learning.
Olugbemiro Jegede
Former Secretary General, Association of African Universities
Former President of the African Council for Distance Education
Foundation Vice Chancellor, National Open University of Nigeria
Olugbemiro Jegede, is a global academician and a diplomat who has made significant contributions to the development of Nigeria, Africa and the global community in many ways. He propounded two major theories. The first is the Theory of Collateral Learning in 1995 to explain how children from the non-western cultures, (especially from Africa, the Caribbean, Asia and the South Pacific) cope with the learning of science through the lenses of their socio-cultural background. The second is the Theory of Webagogy in 1999 for the integration of all the viable theories and ideas about information processing, knowledge and symbolic representation under-guarding philosophy, pedagogy and the use of technology (web-based pedagogy).
Professor Jegede was awarded the 2015 International Council for Distance Education (ICDE) Prize for Excellence for Life long Contribution to Open and Distance Learning worldwide, and also awarded the Association of African Universities (AAU) Excellence, and its ambassador in Open and Distance Learning in 2023. He was appointed Emeritus Professor in 2015 by the National Open University of Nigeria.
In addition to being the UNESCO Chair of Open and Distance Learning from 2002 to 2007, Professor Jegede is privileged to be amongst few academics in the world, who have distinguished themselves by holding two Professorial chairs in two distinct areas of expertise. He is therefore a Chair Professor of Science Education (appointed by the University of Abuja in 1990) and a Chair Professor of Research in Open and Distance Learning (appointed by the Open University of Hong Kong in 1997).
He is a fellow of many professional organisations, received honorary doctorate degrees, published more than 25 books, given over 200 keynote addresses and convocation lectures; and published over 186 articles in foremost journals in the world. He has received several awards for his contributions to education.
Open and Distance Learning through correspondence studies in 1728 when Caleb Philips advertised for learners to study Shorthand has metamorphosised into what is now known as Open Flexible and Distance Learning (OFDL). Open education began in earnest in 1969 with the first open university, The Open University of the United Kingdon. Since then, the horizon of open education continues to expand, improve in quality and sophistication mainly due to emerging technologies. The main fulcrum of open education is to enhance access. Ensuring that no one is left out. open education has emerged as a transformative force, reshaping traditional paradigms and fostering a more inclusive and accessible learning environment.
The trends in open education reflect a global movement towards democratising knowledge, breaking down barriers to entry, and embracing innovative pedagogical approaches. The overarching theme of the future of open education is open education practice. Through open educational practice, there is a promise of a more equitable and interconnected educational ecosystem, where learners from diverse backgrounds can access high-quality resources, collaborate seamlessly, and chart personalised learning journeys. The trends in open education which will revolutionise the future of open education practices include measurable skills and micro-credentials, artificial intelligence, block chain, virtual and augmented reality, IoT, new LMS, and intelligent and smart use of social media and network. The effects of these will be multi-dimensional and transformative, hugely profound affecting every human on the globe. Institutions must braze themselves for the avalanche of what is to come as the education of the future, which is already upon us.
Forum facilitator
Li Kam-cheong
Dean, School of Open Learning
Director, Institute for Research in Open and Innovative Education
Hong Kong Metropolitan University