International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE)

  • Description
  • The Inter­na­tional Coun­cil for Open and Dis­tance Edu­ca­tion (ICDE) is the lead­ing global mem­ber­ship orga­ni­za­tion for the open and dis­tance edu­ca­tion com­mu­nity, and is open to insti­tu­tions, edu­ca­tional author­i­ties, com­mer­cial actors, and individuals.

    ICDE has con­sul­ta­tive part­ner sta­tus with UNESCO and shares UNESCO’s key value – the uni­ver­sal right to edu­ca­tion for all. ICDE fur­ther derives its posi­tion from the unique knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence of its mem­bers through­out the world in the devel­op­ment and use of new method­olo­gies and emerg­ing technologies.

    ICDE was founded in 1938 in Canada as the Inter­na­tional Coun­cil for Cor­re­spon­dence Edu­ca­tion and today has mem­bers from over 60 coun­tries worldwide.

    ICDE’s Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tariat is in Oslo, Nor­way, and has been hosted by this coun­try on a per­ma­nent basis since 1988. ICDE is sup­ported by the Nor­we­gian Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion and Research and by mem­ber­ship fees.


    To advance the inter­ests of its mem­bers, ICDE works to:

    • Pro­mote greater edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­nity for all in the name of per­sonal and national development.
    • Fur­ther the accep­tance of a wider range of learn­ing modes.
    • Drive best prac­tice and the high­est stan­dards of edu­ca­tional provision.
    • Sup­port the devel­op­ment of new method­olo­gies, and use of new technologies.
    • Pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for pro­fes­sional interaction.
    • Encour­age and sup­port lin­guis­tic groups and net­works at national, regional and global levels.
    • Pro­mote inter­cul­tural coop­er­a­tion and understanding.

    The fol­low­ing strate­gic objec­tives have been iden­ti­fied for 2013 – 2016:

    1. To pro­mote the impor­tance of open, dis­tance, flex­i­ble and online edu­ca­tion, includ­ing e-​learning in edu­ca­tional policy.
    2. To encour­age qual­ity in open, dis­tance, flex­i­ble and online edu­ca­tion, includ­ing e-​learning.
    3. To sup­port the devel­op­ment of new method­olo­gies and technologies.
    4. To facil­i­tate coop­er­a­tion and net­work­ing among members.
    5. To strengthen ICDE mem­ber­ship and gov­er­nance, and engage mem­bers in col­lab­o­ra­tive activ­ity and orga­ni­za­tional development.

    ICDE’s Strate­gic Plan for 2013 – 2016 was devel­oped with the involve­ment of the ICDE mem­ber­ship. Open online con­sul­ta­tions with mem­bers in the form of focus groups were held in Sep­tem­ber and Octo­ber 2012. Key exter­nal stake­hold­ers were sub­se­quently con­sulted. In Novem­ber 2012, at the Stand­ing Con­fer­ence of Pres­i­dents (SCOP) meet­ing in Dubai, lead­ers of ICDE mem­ber orga­ni­za­tions dis­cussed the draft strat­egy and rec­om­mended pri­or­i­ties in ple­nary ses­sion and in groups. The ICDE Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee devel­oped the final Strate­gic Plan tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion input from the entire process.


    ICDE, an NGO hav­ing con­sul­ta­tive sta­tus with UNESCO, shares that agency’s key aim – the attain­ment of qual­ity edu­ca­tion for all.

    ICDE, sup­ported by the Gov­ern­ment of Nor­way, and with its Sec­re­tariat in Oslo, oper­ates under Nor­we­gian law.

    ICDE’s actions are guided by the fol­low­ing values:

    • ICDE is mem­ber focused – ICDE is an orga­ni­za­tion which involves mem­bers in deci­sion mak­ing, in coop­er­a­tive action and in coop­er­a­tive prob­lem solving.
    • ICDE is trans­par­ent – mem­bers are able to fol­low the activ­i­ties and deci­sions of ICDE.
    • ICDE believes that the needs of the learner must be cen­tral in the pur­suit of edu­ca­tion as a uni­ver­sal right

    Activ­i­ties and initiatives

    ICDE’s key activ­i­ties are the orga­ni­za­tion of con­fer­ences and meet­ings, includ­ing the bien­nial World Con­fer­ence, the annual Stand­ing Con­fer­ence of Pres­i­dents, and regional con­fer­ences held from time to time at the ini­tia­tive of mem­ber institutions.

    As a net­work orga­ni­za­tion, ICDE is also well placed to pro­vide advice to mem­bers seek­ing to under­take col­lab­o­ra­tion projects and obtain funding.

    Since 1999, ICDE has sought to rec­og­nize out­stand­ing achieve­ment in open and dis­tance edu­ca­tion through the Prize of Excel­lence award. The orga­ni­za­tion also pub­lishes the online jour­nal, Open Praxis, and main­tains the ICDE web­site and monthly newslet­ter ser­vice as its chief infor­ma­tion chan­nels for mem­bers and other inter­ested par­ties within open and dis­tance education.

    Prize of Excellence

    ICDE rewards out­stand­ing achieve­ment in open and dis­tance edu­ca­tion through the Prize of Excel­lence award for both indi­vid­u­als and insti­tu­tions. The Prize of Excel­lence is nor­mally pre­sented on a bien­nial basis at the ICDE World Conference.

    Nom­i­na­tions for the award are invited from ICDE mem­bers, who are asked to pro­vide a state­ment of sup­port for their nominee.

    Win­ners are selected by an inde­pen­dent, inter­na­tional panel, and deci­sions to award the prize are based on merit alone with no polit­i­cal or cul­tural con­sid­er­a­tions being made.

    The ICDE Prize of Excel­lence is awarded to deserv­ing insti­tu­tions and indi­vid­u­als in the fol­low­ing areas:

    • The Insti­tu­tional Prize of Excellence
    • The Indi­vid­ual Prize of Excellence
    • The Prize for Life­long Con­tri­bu­tion to the Field


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