BREAKING! – Leading Global Associations’ Roundtable 3 November

From Europe to US and Australia


Supporting online and distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly a global challenge. That is why EDEN is proud to have joined hands with three of the world’s most acclaimed and infuential associations: the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia (ODLAA) and the Flexible Learning Association of New Zealand (FLANZ) to hold a panel debateof representatives from each association to share their experiences.
By sharing initiatives and resources developed and made available over 2020 the panel wants to emphasize the value and importance of professional networks and learning communities in these uncertain and challenging times.

The webinar on 3 November will be a “special edition” of the webinar series of EDEN’s European Online and Distance Learning Week (EODLW) on 2-6 November.

“We are all in this together – Rising to the challenges”

Meet Timothy Read, Rhonda Blackburn, Reggie Smith III, Marci Powell, Sandra Kučina Softić, Mark Brown and Lisa-Marie Blaschke
 Tuesday, 3 November 2020, 15:00 CET.


Timothy Read
EDEN Vice-president for Open-professional collaboration
Senior Lecturer, Department of Computer Languages and Systems, UNED

Timothy Read is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Languages and Systems at UNED. He did his first degree in Real Time Computer Science at the University of The West of England and his Doctorate in Cognitive Science at the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom). After leaving England, he worked at the University of Granada before moving to UNED in Madrid. He is the co-founder of the ATLAS research group and has directed several national and international funded projects on applying Information and Communication Technologies to Languages for Specific Purposes. He is currently working in the areas of Mobile-Assisted Language Learning and Language Massive Open Online Courses, and their applications for social inclusion and employability, and the role of analytics in these areas. He has also been a member of diverse scientific committees and has collaborated as an evaluator of national and international research project proposals. As well as his academic career, he has worked in different international companies including Rolls Royce (the work he undertook there was subsequently patented), Hewlett Packard, and the telecommunications company I.T.T. In 2015, he was awarded the title of EDEN Fellow from the Executive Committee of the European Distance and E-Learning Network in recognition of the work he has undertaken in this area.


Rhonda Blackburn
President of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA)

Rhonda Blackburn is the president of the United States Distance Learning Association and USDLA Hall of Fame Inductee.  She is past president of the Texas Distance Learning Association and past chair-elect of the National University Technology Network.  Dr. Blackburn has been a leader in distance education in both the corporate and academic environment for the past 20 and has been teaching for the Master of Distance Education Program at UMGC for the past 8 years. Dr. Blackburn is the Chief Learning Officer at Ignite Nation where she is vital in the movement from on-ground to virtual training.  Before serving as CLO with Ignite, she was the VP and Chief Academic Officer for Barnes & Noble Education, LoudCloud and the Senior Advisory Consultant / Strategic Account Manager for Higher Education for Desire2Learn, where she provided guidance and planning for corporate and academic clients. She has also been the Associate Provost of Educational Enhancement at the University of Texas at Dallas and Director for Instructional Technology Services at Texas A&M University where she spearheaded advancement in instructional technology across both institutions. Dr. Blackburn received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University. Her research focus is on what enhances the teaching and learning experience, how students can support each other to achieve their goals, and the advancement between schools.

Reggie Smith III
Chief Executive Officer / Executive Director
United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA)

Reggie Smith III currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer / Executive Director of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA). In this current capacity, he provides leadership to the association, members, and partners. Dr. Smith, who was the first African-American president and then chairman of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) in 2009 and 2010 respectively, has been recognized for his distinguished service in supporting distance learning to include the USDLA Hall of Fame Award, Black Engineer of the Year Award for Community Service, Federal Government Distance Learning Association’s (FGDLA) Hall of Fame Award, FGDLA Pillar Award, Dr. Smith received his B.S. in English Communications from Lincoln University in PA, his M.A. in International Management from the University of Maryland University College, and his Ph.D. in Education from Capella University.

Marci Powell
Marci Powell and Associates, CEO, United States

Marci Powell is the President/CEO of Marci Powell & Associates and has been at the forefront of many pioneering advancements in the workplace for the last 25 years. Marci’s futurist mindset and thought leadership have enabled her to provide strategic guidance to countless companies on how to revolutionize the way they work, adapt, and do business in the next generation workplace. As an internationally renowned keynote speaker, business consultant, and author, Marci has worked remotely enjoying an award-winning and successful career with leadership roles in finance, education, telecommunications, and manufacturing. She has managed globally diverse teams and inspired over 100,000 leaders, employees, and students across six continents. Marci has worked with industry titans like AT&T, FedEx, NASA, Deloitte, Daimler, and Stryker International, as well as numerous universities, ministries, and small-to-enterprise sized businesses across the world. Focusing on helping organizations grow professionally and innovate their processes, Marci has gained heavy renown as a pioneer in distance education and remote learning and working. Some of her awards include the 2019 U.S. Distance Learning Association (USDLA) Higher Education Innovation award, USDLA Hall of Fame membership, AT&T President’s Club, Polycom CEO Award, and the second American woman elected to be a European Distance & E-Learning Network (EDEN) Fellow. When not traveling or working, you can find her enjoying coffee on her back porch or dressed head to toe in her Hogwarts house robes with her grandchildren.

Sandra Kucina Softic
EDEN President
University Computing Centre SRCE, Croatia

Sandra Kučina Softić is EDEN president and Assistant Director for Education and User Support at the University of Zagreb University Computer Centre (SRCE). Her work is focused on monitoring and fostering the e-learning implementation in higher education institutions in Croatia and providing support and advice to institutions, teachers and students in implementation of new technologies in the learning and teaching process. She was appointed Croatian representative in ET2020 Working group on Digital Skills and Technologies (2016-2018) and in ET2020 Working group on Digital Education: learning, teaching and Assessment (2018-2020). She obtained a master’s degree in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh, UK in 2014. From 2016 to 2019 she was EDEN vice-president for Open Professional Collaboration.

Mark Brown
Professor, Dublin City University
EDEN EC member, EDEN Treasurer
Executive Committee Member of the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia (ODLAA)
Mark Brown is Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL) at Dublin City University (DCU). He serves on EDEN’s Executive Committee and is an EDEN Fellow. Mark is also a member of the Supervisory Board of the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) and an Executive Committee member of the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia (ODLAA). He is a past President of the New Zealand Association for Open, Flexible and Distance Learning (now FLANZ) and previously served on the Executive Committee of ASCILITE. In November 2019, Mark was Chair of the ICDE World Conference on Online Learning that was hosted in Dublin.

Lisa-Marie Blaschke
EDEN Senior Fellow and Chair of the Board of EDEN Council of Fellows
Programme Director, Center of Lifelong Learning (C3L), Oldenburg, Germany

Dr. Lisa Marie Blaschke is a former Executive Committee member of the European Distance Education and E-Learning Network (EDEN) and is an EDEN Senior Fellow and Chair of the Board of the EDEN Fellows’ Council. She is also a former adjunct associate professor at the University of Maryland University College, where she received the Stanley J. Drazek Award for Teaching Excellence in 2016. Lisa has a BS in Technical Communication, and two master’s degrees (MDE, MBA), and a PhD. Prior to academia, Lisa worked for SAP for over a decade in Walldorf, Germany, leading and implementing enterprise-wide knowledge management and training processes and solutions. Lisa’s research interests are in the areas of self-determined learning (heutagogy), online collaborative learning, pedagogical application of web 2.0 technology and social media, and user interface design.