Curtain ready to rise on 2022 Virtual ODeL Conference

Clear your desks, close the door on unnecessary distractions and prepare to give your undivided attention to the single most important event taking place at Unisa in the first week of August - the 2022 Unisa Virtual ODeL Conference.

As a quick glance at the programme shows, the conference, taking place virtually from Tuesday 2 August to Friday 5 August 2022, gives new meaning to the phrase "spoilt for choice". Many delegates will find themselves in a dilemma, wishing they could attend two or more sessions or workshops at once.

For the pre-conference workshops on 2 August, Unisa’s colleges have outdone themselves to mobilise expert speakers to discuss critical ODeL issues such as the lingering legacy of whiteness in higher education (College of Education) and what to do about the outbreak of opportunities for academic dishonesty and misconduct (College of Economic and Management Sciences).  

Then there is the challenge of lecturing to students who do not necessarily know how to learn effectively (College of Human Sciences) and the pressure on academics to "adapt or die" in the era of artificial intelligence (Graduate School of Business Leadership). Let’s not forget the burning issue of education for development (College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences) and the chronic shortage of qualified teachers in the global south, particularly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. (This workshop is being presented by the University of Eswatini and the North-West University.)

The conference then moves into full swing with the plenary session on Wednesday, 3 August. One of the highlights will be the keynote speech by Prof Asha Singh Kanwar, President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning Canada, whose topic is "All things research in Open and Distance Learning". She will set the scene for a panel discussion on emerging research approaches in ODeL, with panellists from Eswatini, Canada and South Africa.

Another plenary session and panel discussion are planned for the morning of Thursday 4 August. After Dr Marti Cleveland-Innes of Athabasca University in Canada has delivered the keynote address, an all-African panel from South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe will discuss the so-called "iron triangle" of cost, quality and access in ODeL.

In the afternoon, delegates will again be spoilt for choice. They can either attend the paper presentations or the ODeL Postgraduate Student Consortium Programme.

When the final day of the conference dawns on Friday 5 August, conference-goers can look forward to the plenary address by one of the world’s leading ODeL theorists, Prof Dr Olaf Zawacki-Richter of the University of Oldenburg in Germany. After that, experts from India, Russia, South Africa and the United States will take part in a panel discussion on professional research development in ODeL.

Fittingly for a Friday afternoon, the final session in the afternoon is only an hour and a half long, consisting of paper presentations or the last gathering of the ODeL Consortium.

As this brief summary shows, the 2022 Unisa Virtual ODeL Conference has something for everyone, from established ODeL researchers to newcomers to the field. May it inform and inspire you!

* By Clairwyn Rapley, Directorate Research Support

Publish date: 2022-07-27 00:00:00.0