Pacific leaders in open, online and distance learning

Bossu, Carina (2017). Pacific leaders in open, online and distance learning. Journal of Learning for Development - JL4D, 4(1) pp. 12–22.



The Pacific is a vast region, with a diverse range of cultures and stretched geographical lands, which covers large territories and long distances. Open, online and distance learning (ODL) has always played a key role in providing access to education to remote and rural students and disadvantaged groups. In fact, it could be argued that without ODL, the levels of educational attainment in these regions would be much lower. However, there is work to be done, as some countries in the region still have infrastructure problems, such as Internet connectivity and availability, which directly impact access to online and distance learning. In this piece about Pacific leaders in ODL, I noticed that despite the fact that many leaders have or have had a formal professional base at their institutions, many have worked across different nations and in collaboration with several national and international organisations. Also, initially, ODL leaders were predominantly male, but it did not take long for their female counterparts to join in and be recognised. Encouraged by this journal's editorial board, I made sure that the ODL female leaders are well represented in this piece.

This manuscript is divided in three sections; Australia, New Zealand and some small islands of the Pacific region. This is by no means an exhaustive list of ODL leaders in the region, but one that recognises the contributions of earlier theorists and some more current researchers and practitioners. Finally, it is also important to highlight that the large majority of the leaders recognised here are renowned academics, researchers, practitioners and leaders due to their success, leadership and contributions to ODL. Therefore, most of them have published extensively, been invited to present at conferences and other national and international events, and have worked as consultants for key ODL organisations and their partners, some during the course of their employment and/or after retiring. Their career and academic successes are very important, but here I would like to focus on some of their key contributions to ODL in the Pacific region.

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