International Council for Open and Distance Education -

ICDE - International Council for Open and Distance Education

What is ICDE?

ICDE Logo The International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) is the leading global membership organization for open, distance, flexible and online education, including e-learning, and draws its membership from 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.

Mission of ICDE

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:

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

Major activities

25th ICDE World Conference on Open and Distance Learning, Tianjin, China, 16-18 October 2013

The biennial ICDE World Conference on Open and Distance Education is widely recognized as the leading world event in open and distance education and offers a forum for the presentation of cutting edge developments, network building, and professional development.

The World Conference attracts an average of 1,000 participants from around the globe representing the research community, teaching staff, management of educational institutions, the public sector, and both training companies and suppliers from the private sector.


ICDE has run and been involved in a vast number of research and collaborative projects during its long history. Forthcoming initiatives include projects to study intra-regional collaboration, excellence and accreditation strategies, comparative issues of quality, and how successfully to overcome the digital divide.

Support and strategic advice

ICDE provides support and strategic advice to its members during the planning of field seminars, study tours and academic exchange programmes, and invites members to take part in its own study tours. ICDE can also draw upon significant experience and expertise to help its members in their search for project partners and funding sources.

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.


ICDE's online journal Open Praxis was relaunched in 2012. The publication aims to demonstrate creative and innovative research and highlight challenges, lessons and achievements in the practice of distance and e-learning.ICDE invited applications from potential editors from ICDE member institutions to serve for a two-year term in 2011.

Why join ICDE?

Membership brings access to a tremendous network of knowledge and expertise, and the opportunity to make use of this network both on your own initiative and through participation in ICDE events and projects.

ICDE can provide support and strategic advice to your institution during the planning of field seminars, study tours and academic exchange programmes, and invites members to take part in its own study tours. An open invitation is extended to members wishing to study the distance education systems in Norway and northern Europe.

Membership of ICDE also allows your institution to raise its profile internationally and provides a stage for the dissemination of information relating to your institution, events and research.

As an ICDE member, you benefit from a discount on the ICDE World Conference fee. You may also apply to host an ICDE International conference in order to attract leading figures from the world of open and distance education to your home country.

Rectors, Presidents, and Chief Executive Officers from ICDE member institutions are invited to attend the annual Standing Conference of Presidents (SCOP), a closed forum for peer-to-peer discussions.

Members receive all publications and materials issued in each period for which fees are fully paid.

How to join ICDE?

Membership of ICDE is available to institutions, educational authorities and agencies, companies, and individuals engaged in education and training throughout the world. Associate membership is also available for not-for-profit membership organizations.

An educational institution must be recognized and in good standing with ICDE and in its own country or region, and must conduct its educational operations in accordance with codes of ethics in distance learning in order to be accepted as a member institution. The institution must be prepared to provide documentary evidence of this at any time.

Admittance to the membership of ICDE is subject to approval by the ICDE Executive Committee and additional documentation may be requested from institutions, educational authorities and agencies and companies seeking membership.

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