First World Summit of Mega Universities Heads of world’s largest universities meet in Shanghai
In response to UNESCO's call for international cooperation, the Chinese National Commission of UNESCO, China Central Radio and TV University, Shanghai Distance Education Group, Shanghai TV University and UNESCO Headquarters in Paris jointly organized the 2003 World Summit of Mega Universities – those with the largest enrolments of students in the world and offering education at a distance. The two-day event was held in Shanghai, China, on 6-7 November 2003 with the theme “Innovation and Collaboration – JointAction for the Future of DistanceEducation.”
Participating in the World Summit were the
Presidents or Vice Chancellors of mega universities from several countries including China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Pakistan, Spain, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States of America. A high-level delegation from UNESCO Headquarters consisting of UNESCO's two Assistant Director Generals
for Education and Communication, namely Sir John Daniel, and Dr. A.W.Khan, along with other senior officials of UNESCO were present. Government representatives
and university leaders from Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Vietnam and Uzbekistan also attended the summit as observers.
The objective of the summit was to provide a forum for presidents or vice-chancellors of mega universities to exchange best practices, ideas, visions and innovative strategies to tap the potential of distance education, open learning and on-line teaching/learning in the provision of life-long education and the development of a learning society. Besides this, the summit participants
explored the possibilities of international cooperation and networking.
After the two-day deliberations, the Presidents and Vice Chancellors of Mega Universities signed the 2003 Shanghai Declaration, which officially launched the establishment of the worldwide network called Global Mega University
Net (GMUNET) to promote mututal understanding and academic solidarity. The areas for cooperation (related to open and distance learning curriculum development; ICT and training; joint ventures and policies) were also prioritised in the declaration.
The next World Summit of Mega Universities will be hosted in 2005 by Indira Gandhi National Open University with Prof H.P. Dixit as chairperson.
Regional training workshop on ODL, Shanghai Policy makers review the Asia-Pacific ODL KB website
3-7 November 2003. Open and distance learning (ODL) policy makers from 14 countries flew to Shanghai to look closely at ODL information tools developed through UNESCO including the Asia-Pacific Open and Distance Learning for Higher Education Knowledge Base or the ODL KB website.
3 November 2003. Opening Ceremony of the Training Workshop for Policy Makers on Distance Education and Open Learning
The policy makers –from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam – gave the Asia-Pacific ODL KB a positive rating overall, but suggested many points of improvement in content, design and usability features. The workshop participants also contributed country information for the databases housed within the ODL KB website. Workshop participants are guided through navigating and reviewing the Asia-Pacific Open and Distance Learning for Higher Education Knowledge Base
At the end of the five-day workshop, participants came up with a list of recommendations including future directions for the ODL KB website as well as future meetings.
In addition to reviewing the ODL KB website, the training workshop also allowed participants to gain knowledge and share country papers on open and distance learning in the region.
Keynote speakers and resource persons for the training workshop included: Prof. Wang Yibing (Adviser for the Secretariat of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO and Shanghai Distance Education Group); Prof. Insung Jung of the International Christian University in Tokyo; Prof. Chaiyong Brahmawong, a founder and former Vice-President for Academic Affairs, Sukhothai Thammathirat University, Thailand; Ms. Carmelita Villanueva of UNESCO Bangkok; and Ms. Zeynep Varoglu of UNESCO Paris.
The workshop was deliberately scheduled within the same week and venue as the First World Summit so that the participants could join the first-day events (as observers) of the summit.
The training workshop was organized by UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education and hosted by the Shanghai TV University and the Shanghai Distance Education Group.
AAOU 2003 conference papers online Access more than 70 AAOU papers with a click
Following the 17th AAOU annual conference on 12-14 November 2003, the host organization, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, has made uploaded more than 70 conference papers for public access. Papers for the plenary sessions, concurrent sessions and poster sessions may be viewed from the AAOU 2003 website.
Attended by more than 200 delegates across Asia- Pacific, the papers for the 17th AAOU Annual Conference were in line with the main theme, “Networking and Partnership for Strengthening Collaboration in Open and Distance Education” and four sub-themes:
Community and Industry-based ODE Programmes
Collaboration in the Digital Era
Collaboration in Media, Methods, Assessment and Quality
Policy, Strategy and Scope
Speakers for the plenary sessions included: Professor Dr. Wichit Srisa-an, Member of the Thai Parliament and Chairman of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education in Thailand; Dato Professor Dr. Gajaraj Dhanarajan President and Chief Executive Officer, The Commonwealth of Learning; Professor Dr. Michael W. Churton, Director of Distance Learning, University of South Florida; and Professor Paul Bacsich, Director of Special Projects at UK eUniversities Worldwide Limited.
During the conference, Prof. Ram Takwale, Founder Vice-Chancellor of the Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, was granted the 2003 AAOU Meritorious Service Award for his role in advancing the cause of open and distance learning in Asia.
The 18th AAOU annual conference will be hosted by Shanghai TV University on 2-4 December 2004 with the theme, “Equal access to quality education – mission and challenge to open universities.”