Dear EDEN colleagues and friends, I’m pleased and honored to take over as the 7th President of EDEN after Erling Ljosa (1992-1995), Tamás Lajos (1995-1997), Valerio Grementieri (1997-2000), Erwin Wagner (2000-2003) Ingeborg Boe (2003-2007) and Alan Tait (2007-2010). The length of the list reminds me that e-learning no longer is a new development; EDEN will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year and it is strange to acknowledge that I taught my first online course 23 years ago.
My first recollection of EDEN was from the very early 1990ies when I discussed with Erling Ljosa how a new European organization could establish an electronic newsletter for distance education. The first tangible result was published in a 1992 issue of DEOS, where I included Erling Ljosa’s reflections on our field, and now we can contemplate on how Europe, EDEN and distance Education has changed during the last two decades:
I sometimes ask myself who we are, we who have been grasped by a lasting interest in this strange thing, distance education. Are we a gang of outcasts, people who for some accidental reason have stepped outside the more firmly established educational society? Are we technological wizards who think learning is oozing out of machines and cables? Or are we the true visionaries looking into and trying to create the future structures of education?…The future of EDEN will grow from our ability to create links across national and regional boundaries, and between people and institutions with either similar or quite different experience, but with common interests and aims in the field of distance learning. Europe is a fragile and complex mixture of societies and people. I hope that by creating new and stronger links in one of the growing fields of education and training, EDEN will contribute significantly to the development of educational opportunities within the whole of Europe.
Now, nearly 20 years later, I’m really proud of what we have achieved and what we are doing in the field of distance education and e-learning. The members of EDEN have made it possible for millions of students to get the education they want, and we should all be really proud of this important contribution to the society.
As I said at the Annual General Meeting, the three favorite words in my e-learning vocabulary are: Flexibility, Cooperation and Transparency, and I hope and think these words will be used frequently during my EDEN presidency. One issue which is related to transparency is that I want the members to have easy access to more information about the representatives in EDEN committees and groups. Therefore, I’m especially enthusiastic about the new NAP-members area which could become a very useful service for EDEN members. It already has more than 1200 members and a potential to grow considerably. For those of us who struggle to remember names or faces, it is useful to know that the NAP area already includes a lot of names, pictures, EDEN roles and further information about friends and colleagues. Now, I hope to see new “NAP-friends” and additional information every time I log on.
I’m also excited about the impressive list of EDEN Fellows and I contemplate how we can initiate an interesting and useful forum for the EDEN Fellows. There are now 13 EDEN-Senior fellows and 30 EDEN-fellows. Some of them have already started to make the information in their NAP-presentations public and I’m sure public NAP-presentations of these distinguished ambassadors will enhance the online visibility of EDEN. Their public NAP-presentations are available via this list.
I’m confident that I have a strong team of people who will help me develop EDEN further. I’m looking forward to continue a good relationship with Secretary General, Dr András Szûcs, Office Manager, Anna Wagner and their excellent Secretariat in Budapest. The figure shows the Secretariat from a screenshot of my NAP-page titled friends collection. You can also see their NAP presentations.
I’m also really happy to have two very good and hard working colleagues as Vice-Presidents. Antonio Teixeira (Portugal) and Alan Bruce (Ireland). The EDEN Executive Committee meets about 4 times a year and contributes a lot to the success of EDEN. Now, after the Annual General meeting, we have increased the number of EC-members to eleven and I’m pleased to welcome our new colleagues Gilly Salmon (UK), Costas Tsolakidis (Greece), Deborah Arnold (France), Airina Volungeviciene (Lithuania) and Ene Koitla (Estonia) as new members of the EC. The figure shows all the EC members from a screenshot of one of my NAP-pages. You can also see the presentations of the EC-members.
Together with 190 institutional members and a lot of competent and devoted members, I’m convinced that we together are able to continue the successes of EDEN.