Post-Millennium EDEN Through the Eyes of a President

June 10, 2016 by Antonio Moreira Teixeira   Comments (0)

We complete today the special series of guest blog posts by former EDEN Presidents on EDEN's 25 years of service to the open, distance and eLearning community. For the conclusion of this memorable cycle of reflections, I have the privilege and the pleasure of sharing with you the contribution of our former President Erwin Wagner. He was the leader of our Association from 2000 to 2003.

Erwin was the President who drove EDEN into the new Millennium and celebrated the Association's first decade (1991-2001). This symbolic milestone is not just a happy coincidence, but a good metaphor for his Presidency's legacy. To borrow the words of my dear friend Ulrich Bernath, the chief editor of EURODL, Erwin made a substantial contribution to the consolidation of EDEN as the leading European association in our field. It was under his vision and leadership that the Association adopted his current name: European Distance and E-Learning Network, instead of the original European Distance Education Network. This was the result of a bold and expertly organised effort of modernisation, which included the refreshing of the brand and raising its profile. He was also responsible for strengthening the Association by strongly emphasising the necessity of professional and academic development.

Although I didn't experience those exciting days in EDEN, I can relate to the enduring legacy of Erwin's Presidency. My personal view about Erwin is that of a kind and generous colleague whom I've learned to deeply respect and appreciate.

In this final post of the series, Erwin looks at EDEN from a very interesting and original perspective in which he shares a very insightful analysis on how EDEN has evolved since the start of the Millenium. Erwin highlights factors of major importance in our Association's more recent transformation, namely, EDEN's new global leading role. He finally claims that EDEN is already part of the history of our field. This is quite true indeed and we're very proud to carry this great legacy which resulted also from the work of such visionary leaders as my good friend and past president Erwin Wagner.

I wish you'll enjoy reading as much as I did this delightful post by Erwin.




To be frank: Some years passed since I served EDEN as a president. So what should/could I contribute to this vivid professional community? Clearly I do not want to be sentimental only. Still I am proud that EDEN nowadays is active as the professional body in Europe and beyond. EDEN now seems to act on a global scheme all the time. When I was serving, EDEN was just on its way to enter “new continents”, was invited to present itself at American and Chinese conferences. EDEN made itself a kind of hub to support the professional development of people as well as organizations. But it was not only in geographical terms that the network extended its scope. It was in theoretical, methodological and professional terms too. Coming from “old” distance education it made itself open for (at that time) new media, new networks, new issues, new approaches, new topics and frameworks and - doing this - became a professional home for so many young people as well as for newly coming organizations in the field as well.

Now EDEN is celebrating its 25th anniversary. What a success, what a story, what a push in the development of professionality in our field! Only 15 years ago we included our series of research workshops - thus also attracting the research community. So many good presentations, good discussions and good papers became part of EDEN’s 25 years. How do we measure the benefit of all these contributions to the development in the field and discipline? As I get to know the voice of EDEN is heard more often in the political field. We always were eager to achieve this, of course. But at the end it is a question of a “good fit”. If you, as a professional organization, are part of proper projects (and EDEN often was and is), track the proper questions (and EDEN very often was not running behind but setting the pace) and political bodies do need and want some support or consultation this may suit. I am glad to hear that this has evolved as well.

So you may see: I am still regarding myself as being part of the community – even as I do not even know many EDEN members personally any more. This is part of history. More so: This is history. And EDEN played and plays an important role in these social, scientific, cultural and political games. So EDEN already belongs and will further belong to the history of “distance education” (which still exists) and eLearning especially (which now is spreading all over the world). It is and will be worth to collaborate with EDEN for so many people and institutions, no doubt. I am not sure whether there will be a 50th anniversary and whether I personally will be witnessing that. This doesn’t matter: It was and is a gift to have been serving EDEN for some time and to continue following the new ideas, questions, members and conferences. Thank you!



Professor Dr. Erwin Wagner is an Honorary Professor at the Department of Social and Organisational Education and the Director of the Center for Lifelong Learning (cl³) at the University of Hildesheim in Germany. He is also a former President of EDEN (2000-2003).

With a background in mathematics, physics and educational sciences, he lead over 20 R&D projects. His work has focused on the development of key skills in flexible teaching-learning settings, lifelong learning, e-learning, organisation and education.

Erwin was a member of the EDEN Executive Committee for two terms (1995-2003) and is an EDEN Senior Fellow.