The Open University of Japan (OUJ) hosted the 26th Annual Conference of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) at the Makuhari Messe convention centre in Chiba, Japan from 17-18 October 2012.
More than 280 delegates from some 65 open universities and other educational institutions from across 25 countries in Asia, Canada, Europe, Middle East and Africa attended the conference themed “Expanding the Frontiers of Knowledge through Open and Distance Learning in Changing Societies”. Wawasan Open University was represented by a 10-member delegation led by Vice Chancellor Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye.
At the opening, Prof Ho, the newly-appointed AAOU President, presented the meritorious service award to Prof Tian Belawati, President of Universitas Terbuka, Indonesia. The main address was delivered by Takafumi Goda, Director-General of Lifelong Learning Policy Bureau, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan.
As one of the plenary speakers, WOU’s Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan spoke on ‘Building Knowledge Societies in E-merging Asia: Is OER a Solution or is Wishful Thinking?’ He examined the situation in the emerging parts of Asia where the building of knowledge societies through knowledge generation, dissemination and sharing freely is crucial if these nations are to escape from poverty or move into higher levels of income.
The conference was divided into sessions based on the eight sub-themes - new trends of ODL studies and practices; organisational management and institutional leadership; technology-enhanced teaching and learning; innovation in curriculum development and pedagogy; student support and learning communities; Quality Assurance; Open Educational Resources (OER) and ODL; and Crisis and risk management.
The closing ceremony saw Prof Ho, as the President of AAOU, presenting the Best Paper and Young Innovator awards. A total of 139 papers had been submitted for selection.
For the Best Paper category, six were shortlisted for oral presentation. WOU once again grabbed the gold medal for ‘Development of An Assessment Tool to Measure the Prior Experiential Learning of Adult Learners: The Case of Wawasan Open University’ by Dr Andy Liew, Prof Phalachandra Bhandigadi and Dr Teoh Ai Ping (Universiti Sains Malaysia).
The silver was awarded to “OERScout: Autonomous Clustering of Open Educational Resources using Keyword-Document Matrix” by Ishan Abeywardena and Prof Tham Choy Yoong of WOU, Chan Chee Seng (Universiti Malaya) and Venkataraman Balaji (COL). The paperby Young-Sook Jung, Jihoon Sung, and Younghee Woo of Korea National Open University and Sungkyul University grabbed a silver as well.
For the Young Innovator Award, the gold was won by Dr Nantha Kumar Subramaniam from Open University Malaysia (OUM), and the silver by Kaushalendra Pratap Singhfrom Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and by Ria Mae H. Borromeo from University of the Philippines Open University.
The 27th AAOU Annual Conference next year will be hosted by Allama Iqbal Open University, Pakistan.
Earlier at the AAOU Executive Board Meeting on October 16th, the Board appointed Prof Ho as President of AAOU and endorsed the appointment of Dr Andy Liew as secretary-general of AAOU.