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Open and Distance Learning (ODL)

In an era of decreasing state funding for higher education and increasing demand for enrollments, particularly in developing countries, there is growing interest in the use of open and distance learning (ODL) at the tertiary level to extend access and increase flexible learning opportunities.  At the same time, there is a lack of understanding of how ODL functions, suspicions that ODL promotes trade in higher education services, fear that developing countries are used as new markets, along with concerns regarding quality assurance of education provided through ODL.  Decision makers need access to information that will assist them in ensuring that the policy, planning, development and management of ODL are undertaken appropriately and efficiently.

Regional Activities

Homepage of the Asia Pacific Knowledge Base on Open and Distance Learning

Asia Pacific Knowledge Base on Open and Distance Learning
The ODL Knowledge Base project was set up to support decision makers and practitioners with ready access to information and tools that will assist them in more effective policy planning, development and management of ODL in higher education programmes. 

The Asia Pacific Knowledge Base on Open and Distance Learning was developed by UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education and is hosted at and being maintained by the Open University of Malaysia.  This resource is also supported and guided by the members of the ODL "Buildnet" consisting of ODL institutions serving as partners.  

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Greater Mekong Virtual University
The Greater Mekong Sub-region Virtual University (GMS-VU) Project was launched in 2001 under the initiative of UNESCO Bangkok in collaboration with Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University (STOU) and SEAMEO Regional Centre for Higher Education and Development (RIHED).  The original idea of GMS-VU is to establish a Virtual University to offer distance learning programmes, preferably on-line courses using advanced Information and Comunication Technology, to students in all the six countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, namely, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Yunnan province in China.  

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The Promotion of ASEAN Regional Integration through Open and Distance Higher Education

With support from the ASEAN Cyber University (ACU), UNESCO Bangkok has initiated a project to facilitate a policy-level dialogue among different stakeholders of Open and Distance e-Learning (ODeL) to promote cross-border provision and recognition of ODeL-based higher education. The dialogue will be built upon a comprehensive review of challenges, lessons learned and promising practices of ODeL in the ASEAN region and beyond.  Special attention is being given to regulations, quality assurance framework, accreditation and degree recognition mechanism.