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2015 2nd International Conference of the African Virtual University

Theme: Linking Open Education and eLearning Research to Practice

Dates: July 2nd – 3rd, 2015
City: Nairobi, Kenya
Venue: TBA

The call for papers is now open for the 2015 International Conference of the African Virtual University (AVU).This will be the second conference of the AVU and like the first conference in 2013, this conference will bring together researchers, policymakers and practitioners seeking to make sense of the challenges and explore emerging opportunities afforded by ICTs and open, distance and e-learning (ODeL) in addressing issues of access, equity and quality of higher education and training in Africa. Submissions should especially try to address the issue of linking open education and eLearning research to both policy and practice

We invite papers from a broad range of research areas in ODeL at the macro, meso and micro levels. Papers should be submitted under one of the sixteen research areas (tracks) provided in the submissions guidelines. Like last year, mobile learning, MOOCs and OER still remain of particular interest. This year we also invite papers from IT industry professionals that focus on ICT innovations and solutions for education (including mobile technologies).

Key Dates:

  • Call for submissions opens: December 11th  2014
  • Deadline for submissions: March 13th 2015
  • Review Timeline: February 15th – April 2rd 2015
  • Notification of Acceptance: April 17th 2015
  • Camera ready papers due:  May 8th  2015
  • Conference Early Registration: May 4th  – June 5th 2015
  • Conference Dates:
    o    Preconference workshops July 1st 2015
    o    Main Conference July 2nd – 3rd 2015

Papers Categories

Papers can be submitted in any of the following categories to

•    Full Papers:

Full papers provide an opportunity to share quality and original research. These may feature research studies, evaluations, significant reviews, developments or projects. Full papers are expected to present quality research and require that the paper be original and have the potential to produce results that are sufficiently general for theoretical and/or practical knowledge to be recognizably increased. Full paper proposals should be between 3500 and 6000 words including references

•    Concise (Short Papers )

Concise papers are around work-in-progress for pilot studies, small scale exploratory projects, reports on highly specialized topics or conceptual papers on recent developments. Concise papers also encompass reviews of key new directions for developing research-based best practices and for conducting research into practices in open education, distance and eLearning.
Concise paper proposals are between 2500-3000 words, including references.

•    Poster/Digital Poster:
The poster session provides an opportunity to display information about research in progress and innovative projects or activities in an informal, interactive environment. Poster proposals are a maximum of a two page description, including references.

•    Symposium
A symposium submission will describe an area of current interest and will provide a summary of ideas to be explored (with reference to relevant theoretical frameworks, research, studies and references), including panel members and intended audience. An important component of the symposium submission is a description of the format, addressing the strategies that will be used to engage the audience.
Symposium proposals are a maximum of 2 pageS, including references.

•    Workshops
Workshops contribute towards professional development in open, distance and eLearning and related topics. In many cases the workshops are derived from professional development activities conducted previously at the presenters’ own institutions. Workshops enable participants to engage with colleagues and experts in specific fields, to acquire knowledge, enhance skills and develop broader perspectives. Submissions for workshop proposal should include the following information:

1.    On not more than 2 pages, describe the objectives of the workshop, the target audience, instructional goals, and activities planned for the workshop.
2.    Provide a list of the names and institutional affiliations of workshop presenters.
3.    Provide a list of equipment or room set up requirements.

Submission Guidelines

  •  All papers should be submitted via email to
  • Abstracts alone will not be considered and must be accompanied by the paper. The abstract should be between 250-300 words.
  • The paper needs to address and provide reviewers with an understanding of the results and findings to date. To be considered for review, all six elements described below must be addressed in the paper even if the results, conclusions, or findings are not complete or final at the time of the submission. The paper should deal explicitly with the following elements, preferably in this order:1. Objectives or purposes of the paper.
    2. Perspective or theoretical/conceptual framework
    3. Methods, modes of inquiry including sources of data and evidence.
    4. Results and/or substantiated conclusions or warrants for arguments/point of view
    5. Scientific or scholarly significance of the study or work
    6. Relevance of the study to the theme: “Linking Open Education, Distance and eLearning Research to Practice.”• All papers will be peer reviewed by at least two experienced scholars. To help us ensure a blind review, we request that you do not include any identifying information on the actual body of the paper; this should be limited to the cover page. On the cover page, include:

    o The author(s) and presenter(s) name, institutional affiliation and email address.
    o Provide five keyword descriptors (to help in programming).

  • In your submission, indicate which of the sixteen research areas shown in the table below is most suited to your paper. Further examples of issues that fall under each research area is provided below.

Click here to review the entire research framework before selecting the appropriate research area/track.

Research Areas/Tracks

Research Areas by Level
Macro-level: ODeL Systems & Theories Meso-level: Management, Organization & Technology Micro-level: Teaching & Learning
1. Access, equity, and ethics 6. Management and organization 14. Instructional or learning design
2. Globalization of education and cross cultural aspects 7. Costs and benefits 15. Interaction and communication in learning communities
3. Open, distance and eLearning systems and institutions 8. Infrastructure 16. Learner characteristics
4. Theories and models 9. Educational technology
5. Research methods in ODeL and knowledge transfer 10. Innovation and change
11. Professional development & faculty support
12. Learner support services
13. Quality assurance

Macro-level: ODeL Systems & Theories

1. Access, equity, and ethics

  • The democratization of access to education through open, distance and elearning as afforded by new media and technologies
  • Finding ways to deliver high quality education to those who have limited resources and poor infrastructure.
  • The (sustainable) provision of education using ODeL in developing nations. For example, what is the impact of distance education (e.g., via mobile learning) on narrowing (or broadening) the digital divide?
  • What is the role of ICT (information and communication technologies) and/or OER (open educational resources) or MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in terms of access to education?
  • Should distance education have an inherent and explicit goal to reduce inequality and promote both high quality and affordable educational opportunity?

2. Globalization of education and cross-cultural aspects

  • aspects that refer to the global external environment and drivers;
  • the development of the global distance education market;
  • teaching and learning in mediated and multicultural environments; and the implications for professional development and curriculum development.
  • Policy implications for various aspects of cross border education such as accreditation, internalization
  • Implications for access and opportunity such as presented by MOOCs and OERS?

3. Open, distance and eLearning systems and institutions

  • ODeL delivery systems, the role of institutional partnerships in developing transnational programs and the impact of ICT on the convergence of conventional education and distance education institutions (hybrid or mixed-mode).

4. Theories and models

  • Theoretical frameworks for and foundations of ODeL e.g., the theoretical basis of instructional models, knowledge construction, interaction between learners, and
  • the impact of social constructivism, connectivism, and new learning theories on current practice.

5. Research methods in ODeL and knowledge transfer

  • Methodological considerations,
  • the impact of ODeL research and publication on practice, and
  • the role of professional associations and higher education institutions in improving practice.
  • Literature reviews and works on the history of distance education as well as new and emerging models and concepts are also subsumed within this area.

 Meso-level: Management, Organization & Technology


6. Management and organization

  • strategies, administration, and organizational infrastructures and frameworks for the development, implementation, and sustainable delivery of ODeL programs.
  • What is required for successful leadership in ODeL?
  • Policies relating to continuing education, lifelong learning, and the impact of ODeL on institutional policies, as well as legal issues (copyright and intellectual property).

7. Costs and benefits

  • to financial management, costing, pricing, and business models in ODeL
  • Efficiency: What is the return on investment or impact of ODeL programs?
  • What is the impact of ICT on the costing models and the scalability of ODeL delivery?
  • How can cost-effective but meaningful learner support be provided?

8. Infrastructure

  • physical infrastructure and access points to ODeL programs ( e.g. learning centers, ODeL design & development centers)
  • power availability (electricity, solar)
  • technical infrastructure, and equipment for ODeL learning environments including computers, mobile devices, virtual labs)
  • ICT capacity and internet infrastructure

9. Educational technology

  • new trends in educational technology for ODeL (e.g., social media or mobile learning) and their affordances for teaching and learning.
  • the benefits and challenges of using OERs, media selection (e.g., synchronous versus asynchronous media),
  • skills and competencies to use and support technology integration

10. Innovation and change

  • issues that refer to educational innovation with new media and measures to support and facilitate change in institutions (e.g., incentive systems for faculty, aspects referring to staff workloads, promotion and tenure).
  • emerging innovations and their implications for ODeL e.g. learning management systems, OERs, MOOCs, online data analytics, online examination systems, certification and tags
  • Keeping abreast with research and innovation with implications for ODeL
  • Issues that refer to educational innovation with new media (e.g. mobile learning)
  • measures to support and facilitate change and innovation in institutions (e.g., research, incentive systems for faculty, aspects referring to staff workloads, promotion, and tenure).

11. Professional development and faculty support

  • Professional development and faculty support services as a prerequisite for innovation and change.
  • What are the competencies for teaching online and in various ODeL contexts (blended, hybrid),
  • What are the competencies needed for counselors and support service staff, and how can they be developed?

12. Learner support services

  • the infrastructure for and organization of learner support systems (from information and counseling for prospective students to library services and technical support, to career services and alumni networks).

13. Quality assurance

  • accreditation and quality standards in ODeL
  • the implications of quality assurance and high quality learner support on enrolments and drop-out/retention
  • the reputation and acceptance of ODeL as a valid form of educational provision.


 Micro-level: Teaching and Learning

14. Instructional or learning design

  • issues that refer to the stages of the instructional design process for curriculum and course development.
  • pedagogical approaches for tutoring online (scaffolding), the design of (culturally appropriate) study material, opportunities provided by new developments in ICTs for teaching and learning (e.g., social media applications and mobile devices),
  • assessment opportunities and practices in ODeL.

15. Interaction and communication in learning communities

  • closely related to instructional design considerations is course design that fosters (online) articulation, interaction, reflection, and collaboration throughout the learning and teaching process.
  • Special areas include the development of online communities, gender differences, and cross-cultural aspects in online communication.

16. Learner characteristics

  • the aims and goals of adult and younger students studying in ODeL
  • the socio-economic background of ODeL learners, their different approaches to learning, critical thinking dispositions, media literacies, and special needs.
  • How do learners learn online (behaviour patterns, learning styles) and what competencies are needed for learning (e.g., digital literacy)?
  • Gender differences?