Life membership cannot be purchased. It is conferred upon ODLAA members who have distinguished themselves by their service over an extensive period of time to the cause of open, distance and flexible learning in Australia.

Nominations are brought forward by three members of the ODLAA community, considered by a panel, and decided at an annual general meeting.

ODLAA currently has six life members:

  • Colin Latchem [awarded 2017]
  • Ian Mitchell – Mitchell Open Education Consultancies
  • Bruce Scriven – BRS Consultants [awarded 1997]
  • Kevin Smith
  • Professor James Taylor – University of Southern Queensland [awarded 2001]
  • David Roberts

Colin Latchem

Colin Latchem was an Australian researcher, writer and consultant with a long and distinguished career in open and distance learning. He first joined ODLAA in 1989, was elected to the Executive in 1993 and served as President from 1995 until 1997. Until his death in 2018 he continued to have a strong association with ODLAA.

Colin’s first experience of distance education was during his National Service in the UK, when he was involved in designing pre digital age learning materials for use in Royal Army Education Corps centres and troopships going to the Korean War. After teaching and then lecturing in art and design, he decided to change career and become involved in research and development in educational media and technology in higher education. During this time he was also engaged in consultancy work for the UK National Council for Educational Technology.

Colin came with his family to Australia in 1982, taking up a position at Curtin University in Perth. Eventually holding a professorial level position as Head of the Teaching Learning Group, he was responsible for academic staff development, educational technology and open and distance learning, the university’s strategic plan for teaching and learning, and initiating the annual West Australian inter-university Teaching and Learning Forums, now in their 25th year. During this time, he also organised a number of educational conferences in Indonesia, served on the programme committee of what is now Open Universities Australia, and was President of ODLAA. He also conducted studies leading to the establishment of The Western Australian Telecentre Network (now Linkwest) with more than 100 centres serving remote and rural communities throughout WA, and the Commonwealth of Learning’s Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3F) which benefits small-scale farmers, many of them women, in southern India, Sri Lanka, Jamaica, Kenya, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea and elsewhere.

Since retiring from Curtin in 1997, Colin was sought after internationally and very busy academically. On three occasions he was a visiting professor at the National Institute of Multimedia Education in Japan (now part of the Open University of Japan). He was also a visiting professor at the Korean Open University and a visiting researcher at the UK Open University. He was commissioned to undertake consultancies for AusAid, the Asia Development Bank, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth of Learning, the University of Oldenburg, and UNESCO-UNEVOC. And ran workshops and was a keynote speaker at conferences in China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the South Pacific and the Caribbean, as well as in Australia.

Colin wrote, co-authored and co-edited more than ten books on educational technology and open and distance learning. His Leadership for 21st Century Learning: Global perspectives from leading innovators, co-authored with Professor Don Hanna at Wisconsin-Maddison, received the Charles A Wedemeyer award for best US book of the year on open and distance education. Colin also published many book chapters and research papers internationally. He was an Associate Editor of our Distance Education, of Education & Self Development in Russia, and Co-Editor of the SpringerBriefs series on Open and Distance Education; and formerly the Asia-Pacific Corresponding Editor of The British Journal of Educational Technology.

Colin has been an inspiration and mentor to many of us over the years. When his name was put forward to the Executive for Lifetime Membership, the only comment elicited was “isn’t he one already?”. ODLAA was delighted to honour the contributions of Colin through the award of the Lifetime Membership award in 2017.


Emeritus Professor James C Taylor AM

Jim Taylor

Now retired from his position as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Learning Services) and CIO at the University of Southern Queensland, Professor Taylor is a member of the Board of Directors of the OER Foundation. He was awarded the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) inaugural individual prize for excellence in 1999, and was President of ICDE from 2002 – 2005.

In 2009, Professor Taylor was appointed as a Member in the General Division of the Order of   Australia for “services to tertiary education, particularly in the areas of open learning, on-line and distance education, as an academic, researcher and administrator”. The same year, he received the Australian Higher Education Quality Award from the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) for his“national and international impact on improving the reputation and quality of open, distance and flexible education”. In 2013, he was appointed as an Honorary Fellow of the Commonwealth of Learning.


Bruce Scriven

Bruce Scriven

Bruce Scriven’s association with distance education actually commenced in 1961 when he started a Diploma of Education externally from the University of New England. However, it was not until 1974 that he became involved in distance education at a professional level when he was asked to establish distance education courses to upgrade the qualifications of teachers in Queensland.Bruce attended what he thinks is regarded as the first organised meeting of Australian distance educators held at the University of New England in 1974 under the chairmanship of Kevin Smith (the first ODLAA life member) and which saw the establishment of ASPESA—the Australian and South Pacific External Studies Association and the forerunner of ODLAA.

Bruce became an active member of ASPESA, was a member of the management committee for many years and served as Secretary/Treasurer for 4 years and President for 2 years. Bruce attended every biennial forum of ASPESA (and ODLAA) up to 1996, when he retired from his position as Associate Professor at the Queensland University of Technology. He also attended most workshops which were sponsored by ASPESA in the years between forums.

Bruce was active in the International Council for Distance Education (ICDE) and presented papers and/or acted as session chairman at every ICDE conference until 1996. He remembers being present with a few other Australians in a hotel room at one ICDE conference when the idea of an international journal devoted to distance education was first discussed. The rest is now history! Bruce was vice-president for Oceania and Australia for 4 years and Program Chair of the 16th World Conference in Bangkok in 1992.

Bruce was a member of a number of other professional associations with special interest in teacher education and the use of technology in education. In the 1980s, he undertook pioneering work in the use of teleconferencing, satellites and electronic mail to support distance learning. (This all seems so trivial nowadays when the emphasis seems to be on elearning, but then we had just moved to electric typewriters to prepare distance education materials and the internet was not even a dream!)

Bruce has undertaken consultancies and staff training in many countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Scotland and after ‘retirement’ spent 2 years as the distance education advisor for a women’s health training project in the Philippines. He now lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and when he is not travelling (he has just returned from a trip through the Baltic States, Russia and Switzerland) he is most likely to be found on the golf course where, unfortunately, his handicap continues to increase with his age.

Bruce was awarded Life Membership of ODLAA in 1997.