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 is 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. He continues to have a strong association with us, even to the planning of the 2017 conference and was instrumental in the development of our theme.

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 has been sought after internationally and very busy academically. On three occasions he has been a visiting professor at the National Institute of Multimedia Education in Japan (now part of the Open University of Japan). He has also been a visiting professor at the Korean Open University and a visiting researcher at the UK Open University. He has been 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 he has run workshops and been 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 has written, 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 has also published many book chapters and research papers internationally. He is currently 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; he was formerly the Asia-Pacific Corresponding Editor of The British Journal of Educational Technology.

Colin was recently commissioned by the Commonwealth of Learning and UNESCO-UNEVOC to write and edit Using ICTs and Blended Learning in Transforming Technical and Vocational Education. He is currently engaged in researching a book on open and distance non-formal education in developing countries – a topic about which he has found new excitement: “There hasn’t been a book on this topic for 20 years and it’s like finding buried treasure!”

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 is delighted and unanimous in its pleasure in awarding Colin the honour of Lifetime Membership.


Professor Jim Taylor

Jim Taylor

Jim Taylor is currently Professor in the Australian Digital Futures Institute at the University of Southern Queensland. Prior to this, he was Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Learning Services) at the University of Southern Queensland from June 2001 to January 2009.He was awarded ODLAA Life Membership at the 15th Biennial ODLAA Forum held in Sydney on 25–27 September 2001, giving public recognition to the long-term and significant contribution made to distance education and open learning in Australia.

For further information see Jim’s homepage.


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.