Fifth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF5)

The the Fifth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF5), held at the University of London in July 2008, was a huge success. It was advertised in this blog on February 25, 2008, when I was eagerly anticipating going. Unfortunately I couldn't attend - instead I had an appointment with a Gamma Knife machine :-)

Here are some details of the event taken from an article in Connections/EdTech News, October 2008.


More than 700 delegates from 70 countries attended the Fifth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF5) at the University of London in July 2008. COL's biennial forum has grown to become one of the world's leading international conferences on learning and global development. This year's forum was by far the largest. The theme of PCF5 was "Access to Learning for Development" and the unique contributions that open and distance learning (ODL) can make towards achieving international development goals.

There were more than 320 papers, workshops and discussions around the forum's four main action themes:
. Children and young people;
. Governance, conflict and social justice;
. Health; and
. Livelihoods.

Three cross-cutting issues - appropriate learning technologies, institutions and learner support - helped to inform the discussions. Over four days, delegates discussed best practices, shared their experiences and were inspired by keynotes from leaders in ODL.

COL's Excellence in Distance Education Awards were also presented at PCF5.


PCF5 was hosted by COL in partnership with the University of London, forming a part of the University's celebration of the 150th anniversary of the establishment of its External Programme.

Vice Chancellor Sir Graeme Davies opened PCF5 with comments about the world's first open access university - the University of London. While many people associate distance education with the Internet and modern technology, the University of London began offering distance education in 1858 to enable people to learn without having to come to London. They exploited state-of-the-art technologies of the day - the postal service (developed to take advantage of the new railways) and the printing press. The University of London worked with partner institutions that provided local support and in so doing, helped to develop universities throughout the Commonwealth.

Charles Dickens' magazine, All the Year Round, called the University of London "the people's university". The External Programme's many graduates include five Nobel Prize winners, many heads of state and prisoners of war during World War I and II.

............. and finally, what everyone has been waiting for ...........


COL President Sir John Daniel and Dr. Latha Pillai, Pro Vice-Chancellor of India's Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), took the podium at PCF5 in London to announce that the Sixth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning will be held in Kochi (Cochin, Kerala), India, co-hosted by IGNOU in late November 2010.

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