The ODLAA Conference Organising Committee warmly invites submissions to its 2017 conference on the theme of: ‘Expanding Horizons in Open & Distance Learning’. This theme allows participants to explore and discuss the possibilities for innovation, openness and community in the ever-changing and expanding world of Open, Distance and Flexible Learning. We are seeking submissions which explore new ideas; provide case studies or examples of great practice; and/or report on quality research in the field.

We encourage submissions from practitioners and researchers engaged in all arenas of Open and Distance Learning: formal and informal education; higher education; vocational education; primary and secondary education; adult and continuing education; industry; policy & government.

Submissions should relate to the broad theme of Expanding Horizons and address one of the conference sub-themes: openness, community, innovation.



At the heart of expanding horizons is the concept of openness. This includes open access to a growing variety of learning opportunities, open learning and engagement in open scholarship. Open access refers to inclusive and equal access to an increasingly wider range of educational opportunities without barriers such as prior knowledge and entry qualifications, and ability to pay, while open learning is about freedom and the flexibility to choose the mode, medium, time, place and pace of study. And open scholarship is about sharing educational resources under an open license scheme which permits no-cost access, as well as their use, re-use, adaptation and redistribution by others.


Expanding horizons is about expanding learning communities which are rapidly growing to include other than those in conventional on- and off-campus educational settings. These learning communities now include everyone from early learners who can interact with resources to the elderly who might like to engage with learning for social and emotional richness. Principles of openness are opening up opportunities for members of the community who did not previously see themselves as learners. And economies of scale make open and distance education a cost-effective and viable means of bringing learning to a wider variety of learning communities, regardless of their demographics.


Expanding horizons is about innovations in relation to technology. Technologies are playing an increasingly expanded role in the life of students as well as teachers. This includes developments in relation to artificial intelligence, virtual reality, brain interface technologies, teacher-bots and translation software for multilingual teaching, and a lot more. Drivers of innovation in these areas have to do with the globalisation of education and changes in the way learners, as well as teachers are engaging with information and learning resources. The future of open and distance learning is in breaking down and expanding traditional boundaries to explore these innovative opportunities in the use of technology.

Submission Options

To ensure a diverse and engaging conference experience we provide a range of submission options. All submissions will be peer-reviewed. Abstracts of accepted submissions of all types will be included in the conference program.

Full paper

A full paper can be research/evidence based, theoretically driven, or a significant literature review related to any of the conference sub themes.

If your initial submission is accepted you will need to submit a full version (min. 3000, max. 6-7000 words) of the complete paper by 31st January 2017.

Accepted full papers and keynote addresses will be included in a conference proceedings publication following the conference. Authors of accepted full papers are also invited to submit their paper for inclusion in a peer-review process for consideration for publication in the Distance Education Journal.

All full papers presented at the conference will be entered for the Best Papers Award, which will be presented at the conference. This award is for a paper that represents significant and innovative piece of work in research, development, or practice related to any of the main conference sub themes.

Length of presentation session: 20 minutes presentation and 10 minutes questions/discussion

Speed Session

A speed session allows you to present a short, concise session which highlights one idea or strategy or tool.

Length of presentation session: 10 minutes presentation and 5 minutes questions/discussion


Workshops are intended to be lengthier sessions that are hands-on and interactive. Workshops are likely to be held on Sunday afternoon 5 February 2017 but may be able to be accommodated during the 2 day conference event.

Length of presentation session: 2 1/2 hours (longer workshop proposals will also be considered)

Showcase of innovation, practice or policy

This option allows presenters to engage delegates in an interactive session which showcases innovative practice or policy.

Length of presentation session: 1 hour (including interaction)


This submission type allows presenters to present research/practice in visual form. Posters will be displayed in a prominent place, and a dedicated time for poster presenters to discuss their work will be included in the program.

Posters should be sized AO, or A1; have a minimum of 18 point font size for body text; include images where possible to illustrate key ideas.

For technologically enhanced poster presentations, you will need to bring your own display device.

Submission requirements

Abstracts for all submission types should be 500-750 words in length.

The call for abstracts is now open.

Submissions should be original, and comply with usual copyright requirements. Submitted abstracts will be peer-reviewed by the conference review panel and notifications to authors of successful submissions will begin from 30 September.

Submissions are accepted on the basis that at least one presenter must register and attend the conference. Early bird registration (by 5th December 2016) is recommended for presenters and ensures the presentation is included in the conference program.

Authors of accepted full paper submissions will be required to submit the full paper by 31st January 2017, following ODLAA formatting guidelines, which will be provided.

How to make a submission

Send an email with the following information to:

  1. Full name/s of main author and any co-authors
  2. Contact details (email and phone number)
  3. Any affiliation or institution
  4. Type of submission (specify: Full paper, speed session, workshop, showcase or poster)
  5. Conference sub-theme addressed
  6. Target audience (who do you think will be most interested in your presentation?)
  7. Abstract which should consist of: the title of presentation and a 500-750 word summary of your proposal. (Attach your abstract as a Word document (.doc, or .docx) to the email.)

Send your email to:

Key submission dates:

Call for abstracts opens: 16 May 2016

Notifications to presenters: from 30 September 2016

Submission of full papers: by 31st January 2017