Transforming Asia through Open and Distance Learning

John Daniel, AAOU, Sept 29, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Interesting talk from former Open University Chancellor John Daniel at the AAOU annual conference. He first remarks on Amartya Sen's idea of development as freedom. "Viewing development as the expansion of freedoms puts the focus on the purposes that make development important rather than on some of the means of achieving it." He then looks at recent work from Tony Bates on private distance and online leading providers. "The study by Tony Bates that I quoted suggests that private providers offer eLearning more professionally than conventional public universities." Against that, he offer's Paul Stacey's picture of the university open: "He points out that the combination of open source software, open access publishing, open educational resources, and the general trend to open government creates the potential for a new paradigm in higher education." The universities best placed to leverage this approach are traditionally open universities, says Daniel. "It would be difficult for a university that has put scarcity at the centre of its business model suddenly to embrace openness." Accordingly, he cites Jim Taylor's call for "an umbrella organization for a network of participating institutions with longstanding reputations and accreditation."
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