The Journal of Research in Open, Distance and e-Learning is a newly launched open access peer-reviewed online journal that seeks to publish research and practice-based articles on issues pertaining to open, distance and eLearning (ODeL).
The overall focus of the journal is on persistent and long-standing issues in ODeL and how these are being redefined in the current global context, as well as new and emerging issues. Research issues are categorized into broad categories that include ODeL systems and theories at the macro-level; management, organization, and technology at the meso-level; and teaching and learning at the micro-level.
The research areas and issues are outlined in more detail in the ODeL research framework. The journal will publish the following types of content peer-reviewed articles, Invited articles from thought leaders, research notes and practitioner notes. Articles will be published in the language received – English, French and Portuguese while abstracts will be translated and made available in all three languages.
The journal is published by the African Virtual University with funding support from the African Development Bank. .
The AVU international conference is part of the broader AVU Research and Development Agenda. The conference brings together stakeholders seeking to make sense of the challenges and explore opportunities afforded by innovations in ICTs and open, distance and e-learning (ODeL). The first conference was held on November 2013 under the theme:Integrating eLearning and Open Education to Increase Access to Quality Education and Training in Africa.
The second conference was held on July 2015 with the theme: Linking Open Education and eLearning Research to Policy and Practice.
Planning is currently underway for the 2016 conference which will be held on July 2016. The theme for this year’s conference is Integrating Mobile Learning to Open Up Access to Quality Education and Training Opportunities in Africa.
The AVU conferences are a truly global affair. Participants come from countries and institutions across Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, South America and the United States of America. Also represented at the AVU conferences are the African Union, African Development Bank, the Open Education Consortium, Vice-Chancellors and Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Ministries of Education, National Regulatory Authorities, researchers and university academics. The conferences so far have been funded by the African Development Bank.
The AVU has developed and disseminated the first batch of policy briefs. The research studies presented at the first conference have provided a useful resource for the content of the policy briefs. These policy briefs have already been published through the AVU network and focus on a wide range of Open, Distance and eLearning topics including infrastructure, mobile learning, virtual laboratories, learner needs and open education resources. The R&D unit developed a guide and template and also organized a policy brief writing workshop for all the AVU staff members in February 2015. The R&D unit is currently developing another set of policy briefs based on some of the research topics that were presented at the recently concluded 2015 2nd International Conference of the AVU. The development of policy briefs is an on-going activity with more briefs to be developed in the future based on the experiences of the AVU in the design, delivery and implementation of Open, Distance and eLearning programs and activities.
Links to policy briefs:
It was agreed that prior to establishment of a mobile learning lab, it is important to begin with research on mobile learning to better inform our activities. The R&D unit undertook desk research and conducted a review on the status of mobile learning research and practice and developed a concept note to guide the initiative. The soon to be launched academic journal and the 3rd International Conference of the AVU provide a venue to help deliver activities around mobile learning. These include conference presentations, journal articles and policy briefs. The conference also provides a venue to offer workshops that are relevant to the mobile learning initiative. One workshop was offered during the 2nd conference on learning design for mobile delivery. R&D can build on the face-to-face workshops to see if they can be offered as webinars after the conference to reach an audience beyond the conference.