About Us

Executive Committee

ODLAA is managed by an unpaid volunteer executive committee with support of a paid Executive Officer. The executive committee is elected for a two-year period by ODLAA members at the Annual General Meeting, with half of the executive committee being elected each year.

Each month the executive committee meets to formulate strategy, approve association expenditure, and undertake planning of member activities and events. Executive members are assigned a portfolio responsibility for advancing the association.

These portfolios include:

  • Affiliations and Partnerships
  • Webinars
  • Website
  • Events and Conference
  • Marketing and Communication

Executive Committee


Associate Professor Jay Cohen

La Trobe University

Associate Professor Jay Cohen is the Deputy Director of Online Education Services at La Trobe university. 

Previously, he was the Director of Online Learning and Teaching at Charles Sturt University. Jay has over 20 years experience in tertiary and online education. He is an innovative online learning professional with a highly regarded record in the delivery of high quality, scalable learning solutions across the higher education sector. 

Research interests: Online learning, learning analytics, learning innovation and higher education assessment.

Vice President

Professor Mark Brown

Dublin City University

Professor Mark Brown is Ireland’s first Professor of Digital Learning and Director of the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL) at Dublin City University (DCU). 

He is a Fellow and Executive Committee member of the European Distance and E-learning Network (EDEN) and serves on the Supervisory Board of the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU). He was also Chair from 2014 to the end of 2018 of the Teaching and Learning Steering Committee for the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU). 

Mark previously worked in a senior role at Massey University where he was also President of the New Zealand Association for Open, Flexible and Distance Learning (DEANZ, now FLANZ) and served on the Executive Committee of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE). In 2017, the Commonwealth of Learning (CoL) recognised Mark as a world leader in Open and Distance Learning, and he is Chair of the ICDE World Conference on Online Learning which will be held in Dublin in November 2019. More information about Mark is available from here.

Research interests: Digital learning, blended education, online delivery models, including MOOCs, micro-credentials, learning design, effective pedagogy, academic development, higher education, quality enhancement, the nature of the student learning experience, and educational policy and leadership. 

treasurer - previous president

Dr Mutuota Kigotho

University of New England

Mutuota has been involved in distance education in Australia since 2009 when he took up a position as Lecturer at the University of New England (UNE) where over 80% of the student’s study online and by distance learning.

His 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.

Mutuota is a long-standing member of ODLAA having served as a committee member, secretary, vice-president, treasurer, and between 2017 and 2021, as 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.

Research interests: Distance Education, eLearning, the uptake in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in African Educational systems, and the use of social media and ICT for educational purposes.


Dr Dawn Marie Gilmore


Dawn is the Director of Quality and Enhancement at RMIT. She plays a leading role in managing and interpreting academic standards and processes. She leads a team that works with senior stakeholders university wide to build best practice and ensure consistent academic quality practices across all RMIT operations.

Dawn’s passion is in online education. Previously, she was the Director of Teaching & Learning at RMIT Online where she developed and scaled evidence led practices in the recruitment and training of online teachers and in online student support from enrolment to graduation.

She has authored peer review academic journal articles, news articles, and blogs about online  teaching, learning, and quality. During the pandemic her short online teaching tips were read globally by a community of more than 15,000 and endorsed as best practice by colleges, schools, and organisations around the world.

In 2015, Dawn was awarded funding as a Visiting Research Scholar at South Africa’s University of Witwatersrand Centre for Learning, Teaching & Development. More recently, she has been invited to speak locally and globally at various events including for the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) and the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).

member representative

Natalie Downes

University of Canberra

Natalie is a Research Assistant in the Centre for Sustainable Communities in the Faculty of Education at the University of Canberra.  Her work focuses on K-12 distance education and the sociocultural politics of education in the interests of sustainability for rural communities. 

Natalie has also worked to develop online initiatives that connect rural education researchers around the world. Natalie is currently undertaking her PhD that focuses on exploring how different ways of understanding rurality and rural education influence education for students in geographically remote locations in Australia. 

Research interests: K-12 distance education, rurality, research ethics, distance education curriculum, rural-regional sustainability

Member representative

Dr Sarah Stein

University of Otago

Sarah is the Director, Distance Learning at the University of Otago. In this strategic role, Sarah works in collaboration with the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic), Pro-Vice Chancellors, Heads of Departments, programme coordinators, teachers, administrators, and others to facilitate change and development in distance education. 

Previously, she worked in academic staff development at the University of Queensland and University of New England. Sarah has tutored and lectured in science education and technology education within undergraduate and postgraduate teacher education courses. She undertakes research projects and supervises postgraduate students.

Research interests: Teaching, learning, curriculum, and evaluation in higher education settings, with a specific focus on educational technologies, distance education, technology and science education, student evaluations and teacher professional development.​

Member representative

Sharon Altena

Queensland University of Technology

Sharon Altena (SFHEA) is a Senior Curriculum and Learning Designer in the Learning and Teaching unit at Queensland University of Technology. She has worked in curriculum and learning design for the past 30 years across the secondary, vocational education and higher education sectors. 

In her current role, Sharon leads course teams to re-imagine their curriculum and implement evidence-based digital learning practices into their on-campus, blended, flipped and online classrooms. Sharon is a member of the Digital Learning for Change Research Group at Queensland University of Technology.

Research interests: Third space workers, online learning, curriculum, and educational technology. 

Find Out More about ODLAA

Who We Are
Our History
Past Presidents