From October 1 to 3, 2013, the 27th Annual Conference of Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) was held in Islamabad, Pakistan. Zhang Hui, vice president of the OUC led a five-member delegation to attend the conference. This annual conference was organized by Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU).
The theme was “Leveraging the Power of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) for Building a Divergent Asia – Today's Solutions and Tomorrow's Vision".
Nearly 200 representatives from different countries in Asia attended this annual conference. Apart from the OUC delegation, colleagues from Shanghai Open University, Jiangsu Open University, and Zhejiang Radio and TV University also attended the conference. At the AAOU General Body Meeting, the OUC was elected a member of the new Executive Committee (2014-2016) of AAOU.
Professor Nazir Ahmed Sangi, chair of the Organizing Committee of the 27th Annual Conference of AAOU and vice chancellor of the AIOU, Professor Dato' Dr. Ho Sinn Chye, vice chancellor of Wawasan Open University, Baleeghur Rehman, State Minister for Education, honorary vice chancellor of AIOU, and Dr. Andy Liew Teik Kooi, AAOU secretary general, director of Quality Assurance Department, Wawasan Open University delivered speeches on the current situation of AAOU, and distance education in Pakistan at the opening ceremony.
The conference demonstrated new exploration and practice in the distance education by open universities in Asia in keynote speeches, parallel sessions and various discussion forums and provided new thinking and approaches for the future of distance learning. The sub-themes of the four parallel sessions were: Emerging Trends in Open and Distance Learning; Building a Global Future through Research and Innovative Practices in ODL; ODL and Human Capacity Building; Technologies and Strategies for Providing Education through ODL; Application of ODL in Various Disciplines. The annual conference brought together 261 academic papers. Zhang Hui, vice president of the OUC, hosted the keynote speech ‘Re-engineering research, teaching and learning with digital technologies. How AAOU members might collaborate for the benefit of teachers and learners in their societies’ by Prof. Marilyn Leask, University of Bedfordshire, UK. Zhang Kun and Yu Minsheng, of the OUC, presented their papers on ‘Challenge and reform of libraries against MOOC background’ and ‘Building a new educational model through Internet games and social tools.’
During the conference, Baleeghur Rehman, Minister of State for Education, honorary vice chancellor of AIOU, met with Zhang Hui, vice president of the OUC and expressed the hope that the two open universities could carry out multi-level cooperation in various sectors in the future. Professor Nazir Ahmed Sangi, vice chancellor of AIOU, hoped to establish cooperation with the OUC as soon as possible. He indicated how extensive the economic cooperation between China and Pakistan is and that the local employees are eager to learn Chinese. He suggested establishing a language lab in AIOU and hiring teachers from the OUC to teach Chinese and carrying out Chinese training for joint venture companies together with the OUC.
At the AAOU Executive Body Meeting and the General Body Meeting on October 2, the next AAOU chair and the members of the Executive Committee (2014-2016) were elected. Prof. John C.Y. LEONG, President of The Open University of Hong Kong will assume the chair of AAOU. Wawasan Open University, AIOU, Korea National Open University, Payame Noor University, Universitas Terbuka, Indonesia and the OUC were elected as the members of the Executive Committee. The conference also decided that the 28th AAOU Annual Conference will be held in Hong Kong in October.
On October 4, Zhang Hui, vice president of the OUC, led a delegation and conducted a field trip to the Karachi Open Education Centre of AIOU. Mr. Syed Tariq Hussain, head of the Karachi Open Education Centre introduced the study centre to the delegation, including its history, campus size, recruitment, study support and construction of its library.
By Yu Minsheng, Niu Ben, the OUC