The 32nd Annual Conference of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) was held in Hanoi, Vietnam from 24-26 October 2018. A delegation of six people led by Open University of China (OUC) vice president Lin Yu attended the conference.

The OUC delegation at the 32nd AAOU Annual Conference

The 32nd AAOU Annual Conference organised by Hanoi Open University of Vietnam was themed “Open Education in Human Resource Development in Asia’s Period of Integration.” Nearly 500 representatives from 32 universities in 23 Asian countries attended the conference. Mainland China representatives from the OUC, Shanghai Open University, Jiangsu Open University, Yunnan Open University, Inner Mongolia Radio and TV University, Zhejiang Radio and TV University, Central Agricultural Broadcasting and Television School, attended the conference.

Dr. Truong Tien Tung, president of Hanoi Open University, Professor Melinda Bandalaria, AAOU president, and Nguyen Van Phuc, vice minister of the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training, delivered speeches at the opening ceremony.

Four plenary and six parallel sessions were organised during the annual conference. AAOU president Professor Melinda Bandalaria, president and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning Professor Asha Singh Kanwar, and UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning Chair-holder in Open Educational Resources Professor Rory McGreal gave keynote speeches on New Technologies in Open Education, Human Resource Development and Lifelong Learning for Open Universities, and Open education in Technical, Vocational, and Skills Development, respectively. According to the experts, modern information technologies should be used to provide more learners with opportunities to learn wherever and whenever, to improve learners’ enthusiasm for leaning and the learning results, and to improve learner support. Open universities should actively develop lifelong education to provide good quality lifelong learner support, and to keep improving the quality of citizens. Furthermore, flexible and diverse open education methods and teaching contents close to reality will improve the level of vocational education and promote the development of human vocational skills.

Former Universitas Terbuka (UT) Rector of Indonesia, former president of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE), and member of the ICDE Board of Trustees Professor Tian Belawati, chair of the Board of Regents of Hanoi Open University Dr. Nguyen Mai Huong, and director of Research of Open University of Hong Kong Dr. Li Kam Cheong held panel discussions on Human Resource Development in Asia’s Period of Integration and Openness in Education, and interacted with the experts and scholars present. They all agree that there is a great need for higher education and lifelong education among the Asian population. Educational institutions should make use of modern information technology to reform and innovate education methods and content to improve the efficiency of educational administrative management, to transform educational philosophy in a timely way, and to make all levels of education more open to ensure the quality of open education. We should fully grasp the changing demands of the new period in order to make learning more appealing and interesting, and offer learners the best quality service.

The parallel sessions covered four sub-themes: Human Resource Development in Open Universities, Open Education in Technical, Vocational, and Skills Development, Open Education Practices in Foreign Languages and Other Academic Disciplines, and New Technologies in Open Education. Over 100 academic papers were read out at the six parallel sessions around the four sub-themes. The paper “Construction and Application of Online Education Cloud Platform for Learning Analysis” written by Wei Fangfang, Wei Shunping, and Wu Shuping was nominated for Best Practice Award in the final selection. The paper “Application of Data Visualisation Technology in Open Education – Illustrated with the Example of Enrolment Management”written by Guo Zhijun and Yang Min, and Li Shu’s paper "Application of Guided Learning Model in the Open University of China's Online Courses- Take Construction Technology Course as an Example" were respectively read out at parallel sessions. The above papers showed the fresh conceptual thinking and technological applications of the OUC in the field of open distance education and were recognised by the experts in the field.

New explorations and practices from Asian open universities were fully presented in effectively achieving open and distance learning, promoting lifelong learning, and improving teaching quality and learning effect with information technology through the multiple forms of keynote speeches, panel discussions and parallel sessions. The great many problems that still exist in the current development of open and distance education in Asia were also pointed out. The conference called on open universities in Asian countries to unite for positive and effective exchange and cooperation and to meet any future challenges. In this way they will make greater contributions to the improvement of open and distance education quality and the development of human resources in Asia.

Lin Yu, OUC vice president, joining the 33rd AAAOU executive committee

Li Yu, OUC vice president, attending the 32nd annual plenary meeting of the AAOU committee

During the conference, OUC vice president Lin Yu joined the 33rd AAAOU executive committee and attended the 32nd Annual plenary meeting of AAOU committee on behalf of the OUC. The representatives present discussed and approved a range of key issues, such as the minutes of the last executive committee and the annual plenary meeting of AAOU committee, the 2017 annual report, the 2017 financial statements and audit reports, the collection of 2018 membership fees, the 2019 financial budget, and the 2018 intercollegiate scholar exchange programmes. The new member applications, and the procedures and results for several 2018 awards were also approved, including the Meritorious Service Award, Best Paper Award, Young Innovator Award, and Best Practice Award. Discussions were made on how to increase the number of paper submission to the AAOU journal. It was decided by vote that it would be up to the Open University of Sri Lanka to undertake the 2020 AAOU Annual Conference. Responsible personnel from the relevant projects of the executive committee also reported on the Asian MOOCs portal and the latest progress and the future plan on the feasibility study of open and distance education certification. At the end of the process, Rector of Universitas Terbuka Professor Ojat Darojat also proposed writing a monograph on research about open and distance education in Asia in cooperation with several Asian open universities and to work together to develop courses for postgraduate specialties.

The 33rd AAOU Annual Conference will be held in Lahore, Pakistan.

By Li Shu and Chen Na, OUC