ODLAA is managed by an Executive Committee. Each year half of the committee is elected for a two year period, from and by ODLAA members.
President – Dr Som Naidu
Dr. Som Naidu has spent most of his professional life in the higher education sector in a variety of roles to do with enhancing learning and teaching practices in distance education, online learning and elearning, as well as education more generally, in various jurisdictions and geographical locations. Currently at Monash University, most recently Dr. Naidu served as Associate Professor (Learning Transformations) at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. From October 2008 to April 2013, he served as Associate Professor and Director of Teaching and Learning Quality Enhancement and Evaluation of Learning and Teaching at Charles Sturt University, NSW Australia, and prior to that he was, for eleven years, Associate Professor of Educational Technology and Multimedia Education as well as Head of Research and Evaluation in the field at the University of Melbourne. Dr. Naidu moved to Melbourne University after five years as Senior Lecturer in Instructional Design and Technology (1992-1997) at the University of Southern Queensland, and a year as Assistant Professor of Educational Technology (1991-1992) at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.
Dr. Naidu possesses undergraduate qualifications in Education (curriculum and instruction) from the University of Waikato in New Zealand and graduate qualifications in Distance Education and in Educational Technology from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. He has undertaken sabbaticals in the Institute for Learning Sciences in the Graduate School of Computer Sciences at Northwestern University, Illinois, USA (1997), in the Learning and Teaching Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University, and the Learning and Development Directorate at the University of London, United Kingdom (2003/2004), and in the Centre for Research, Innovation and Training in eLearning, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain (2012).
His publications in the areas of his expertise include several books, book chapters, and more than a hundred peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers. A frequently invited keynote speaker at national and international conferences, Dr. Naidu possesses an extensive record of research and scholarship in the broad field of open, flexible and distance education, and especially in designing and implementing capacity building workshops in the areas of open educational practices, online learning and elearning. His professional consultancies in the field include numerous capacity building projects in course and curriculum design and development, online learning and elearning in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Belize, Namibia, Western Samoa, Maldives and the Solomon Islands.
Dr. Naidu is the current president of the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia, executive editor of its journal Distance Education, assistant editor of the journal Interactive Learning Environments, a co-editor of the Routledge book series on Open, Flexible and Distance Learning, and a member of the inaugural Routledge Education Arena Panel of Editors. In May 2014 the Open University of Sri Lanka awarded Dr. Naidu a D.Litt. (Honoris Causa), in recognition of his extensive contribution to the field of open, flexible, distance and e-learning both regionally and internationally.
Vice-president / Treasurer – Dr Mutuota Kigotho
Mutuota has been involved in the area of distance education in Australia for over six years. This involvement started when he took up a position as Lecturer at the University of New England (UNE) in January 2009. At UNE over eighty per cent of the students study online and by distance learning.
Mutuota’s expertise lies in digital literacy where his focus has been the intersection between broadband and analogue investigating the literacies that users need to make sense of their learning environment. He has published in the Journal of Distance Education and in Literacy Learning- the Middle Years. He has also presented papers at the International Council of Distance Education (ICDE) conferences in Sydney and in Bali – Indonesia.
Within ODLAA, Mutuota has served as a committee member, first as secretary and currently the Vice – President of the association. He believes that access continues to be one of the biggest challenges of our time and is strongly persuaded in sharing content at minimal cost.
Secretary – Sharon Kerr
Sharon, is CEO of Global Access Project, — a HECG initiative working closely with major technology players including IBM and NUANCE in association with major universities in the US, EU and Canada with the Liberated Learning Consortium. Their focus is to provide information and solutions so that students with a disability can access the full learning experience and achieve their full potential.
In 1992 after a successful career as a Japanese Language teacher, with friends Susan and Tony Bruck Sharon published “Japanese Tutor” through Ashton Scholastic. With this being one of the first multimedia teaching packages in the world, its publication led to a career at Macquarie University in areas relating to technology enhanced learning. Her roles included Lecturer in Education, Educational Developer, Manager Online Education, Assistant Director Centre for Flexible Learning and Manager Macquarie University Accessibility Services.
In 2004 Sharon was responsible for building and managing the team that delivered the first online degree from Macquarie University through Open Universities Australia (OUA). This had a profound impact on the strategic direction of Distance Learning at Macquarie University. Pedagogy and design principles adopted in this online degree were subsequently adopted across Australia by other OUA providers.
In addition to her expertise in online education and management, Sharon brings to the executive of ODLAA a passion for equity of access to education and extensive experience in designing online courses to meet the needs of international students, students with a disability and Indigenous students. She has a Masters of Indigenous Education and in addition to her role with Global Access Project is working towards a PhD with Sydney University.
Sharon’s Linkedin profile can be viewed here.
Publications Officer – Dr Jenny Roberts
Dr Jenny Roberts is a senior researcher at the Institute for Open and Distance Learning (IODL) at the University of South Africa (Unisa). She has undergraduate studies in Statistics and Sociology, a Masters degree in Tourism Development and Management and a D. Litt et Phil in the teaching and curriculum design of Biblical Archaeology, and as such is a true interdisciplinary scholar. She has published articles on distance education, discipline in education, metacognition and engaged scholarship research. She is currently a co-editor and contributor to a textbook on the teaching of Life Skills as well as co-editor of the special themed edition of the Distance Education journal. She has presented papers at local and international conferences in Australia, New Zealand, China, Russia and other African countries. She was a member of the panel discussion on MOOCs at the recent ICDE conference which was held in Moscow. Her areas of interest are Learner Support, Metacognition, MOOCs, Neuro-education and Life Skills. She is the leader of the Unisa research thrust “Technology and the Changing Role of Academics in Distance Education”, as well as a team member together with colleagues from other South African universities on a National Research Foundation (NRF) project on co-operative learning in an ODL context. She describes herself as a lifelong learner, even at a distance, as can be seen from the fact that she is currently enrolled for various Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) in teaching mathematics, psychology and research methodologies. Dr Roberts is the first South African to be elected to the executive committee of the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia (ODLAA).
Committee Member – Diane Hockridge
Diane has worked in higher education for around 15 years, with a focus on distance and online education for about half that time. She currently works as an Educational Designer for Ridley College, a theological education college in Melbourne. In this role she works with faculty to design new units for distance students for a range of Bachelor and Masters degrees in theology. Diane also runs professional development workshops and undertakes consultancy work on distance education in the theological education sector.
Diane’s qualifications include a BA and Litt.B in political science from ANU, a diploma in theology, and a masters in higher education – e-learning (Macquarie University). She is also currently a PhD candidate in the School of Education at Macquarie University. Her doctoral research explores learning design for formational learning. This is one of the particular educational challenges faced in the theological education sector, which is keen to explore how distance education and educational technologies can be used to foster more than cognitive learning, including spiritual formation and practical skills required for theology graduates. She is also interested in exploring potential cross-disciplinary insights into the improvement of student learning experiences in distance and online learning contexts.
Committee Member – Dr Barrie Todhunter
Dr Barrie Todhunter is an Associate Professor in Project Management and Property Studies at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) and teaches into the graduate program at the Springfield Campus. After practising as an Architect, Barrie completed graduate studies and was a senior project manager for an international property development company before joining USQ and completing doctoral research into distance education. He has taught in online, distance education and face-to-face modes across Australia and South-East Asia, presented at international conferences on project management and published in the area of distance education and professional education. Barrie developed the USQ project management program into a large international program ranging from undergraduate subjects to doctoral research studies. He was a joint winner of a 2012 OLT Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, and coordinates award-winning graduate block intensive workshops using a blended learning model based on his research. This has provided the flexibility and academic support that graduate coursework students, both on-campus and off-campus, have historically lacked.
Committee Member – Jo Osborne
Jo says she has worked in distance education forever! Starting with health industry training in the UK, she then spent 4 years at Hong Kong Polytechnic before moving to Tasmania – originally to help support the development of the bachelor-level Nursing program for delivery by distance learning, and later as instructional designer to a whole range of undergraduate courses from Accounting to Agriculture. In 1998 Jo took 4 years out to explore the real meaning of distance by working at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji; returning to Tasmania to work as a freelance ID, and later on a range of development projects for undergraduate and postgraduate programs in Health Sciences at the University of Tasmania, where she developed and taught online Master’s programs. Jo’s current role at UTAS focuses on staff and program development for university-wide implementation of a blended leaning approach.