(27-28 October 2010)
The 24th Annual Conference of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) was hosted by Hanoi Open University at the Melia Hotel, Hanoi, Vietnam. The conference with the theme ‘Open Distance Learning Towards Building Sustainable Global Learning Communities’ was attended by over 500 participants from 22 countries.
Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam Prof Nguyen Thien Nham officially opened the conference while Deputy Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Vinh Hien officiated at the closing ceremony. The conference featured 8 keynote addresses and a total of 173 papers covering the five sub-themes: ideology and philosophy; partnership and communication; methodology and technology; sustainability, accessibility, equity and quality; and opportunities and challenges that were delivered through several parallel sessions.
WOU was well represented through a large contingent of 18 delegates led by Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Wong Tat Meng. Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Dr Gajaraj Dhanarajan, (Hon) Director of WOU’s Institute for Research and Innovation, delivered a keynote address entitled ‘Thoughts on Open Distance Education: Has It Outlived Its Course?’ while 11 others delivered oral presentations based on their submitted papers. In addition, Prof Dhanarajan along with School of Science and Technology (SST) senior lecturer Ishan Abeywardena conducted a pre-conference workshop on “Open Education Resources”.
WOU dominated the award winners at this year’s AAOU Conference by taking 50% of the awards offered. The paper by Ishan and Assistant Vice Chancellor (Academic Support) Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye entitled ‘Development of a Computer aided ODL Course Development Tracking System (CDTS)’ was awarded the silver medal for the Best Paper Award competition.
In the Young Innovators Award category, the joint paper by SST’s Vincent Chung and Karen Khor entitled ‘Mobile Agents (Replication Agent, Snapshot Agent) Approach for Transaction Processing in Mobile Database System – Mobile Learning Environment’ took the Gold Medal while the Silver was won by School of Business and Administration deputy dean Dr Teoh Ai Ping and co-authors via their paper entitled ‘Student Interaction in the online Learning Management System: A Comparative Study of Undergraduate and Postgraduate Courses’. Dr Teoh had previously won a silver medal in the 2008 AAOU Annual Conference.
Overall, the WOU staff grabbed three of the 6 awards on offer. This reflected well on the quality of the research conducted by WOU staff despite the institutions relatively young age. The WOU learning community is elated over the successes of our colleagues.
The 25th AAOU Annual Conference will be held at the WOU Campus from 28-30 September 2011 with the theme on “Transforming Asia through Open Distance Learning (ODL)” to focus on the role of ODL in transforming the life of Asian communities . The five sub-themes of the conference are: cultural and social change; quality; business model and the role of partnership in ODL; technology; and future trends.