Title: Future of Open and Distance Learning within the Context of Emerging Trends in Higher Education and Generative-AI 

Abstract: The landscape of higher education is rapidly evolving and influenced by shifts toward competency-based learning, internationalization, and a stronger focus on career-ready education. This presentation explores the future of open and distance learning (ODL) in the context of these emerging trends and the profound impact of artificial intelligence (AI). The integration of competency-based learning frameworks within ODL platforms is reshaping educational assessment, focusing on skill mastery and practical outcomes rather than traditional time-based metrics. This approach aligns with the growing demand for career-ready education, preparing students more effectively for professional environments through tailored practical experiences, and direct industry involvement. Furthermore, the trend of offering micro-credentials and nano-credentials reflects a shift towards modular education, allowing students to acquire specific skills and knowledge rapidly and on-demand, enhancing their ability to adapt to changing job markets. Additionally, shared services in higher education, through collaborations between institutions, optimize resource use and expand educational offerings, drive down costs and increase accessibility. Internationalization is another critical trend, with institutions expanding their reach to offer global learning opportunities that enhance cultural competency and operate across borders supported by ODL systems. These systems are increasingly powered by Generative-AI technologies, which not only automate administrative tasks, but also enhance learning experiences through personalized learning paths, adaptive learning environments, and AI-driven simulation models, which provide immersive learning experiences that are both scalable and impactful. The convergence of these trends with AI technology signifies a transformative era in higher education, where learning is more accessible, flexible, and aligned with the global industry and societal needs.


BIO: CENGIZ HAKAN AYDIN, PhD, is a full professor in ANADOLU UNIVERSITY of TURKEY where he has been offering courses in the field of open and distance learning (ODL) since early 1990s. He is currently the Head of the Distance Education Department, Faculty of Open Education, ANADOLU UNIVERSITY, and the director of ANADOLU UNIVERSITY’s OpenAnadolu Project (including AKADEMA, MOOCs platform). Dr. AYDIN served as an instructional designer in the Open Education System until September 2017 and as Dean of the Faculty of Economics, one of the three faculties that made up the Open Education System of the University, between 2013 and 2016. His current research interests include the design and development of ODL environments, integration of new technologies (AI, VR, AR, MR, etc.) into ODL, Open Educational Resources (OERs), Open Educational Practices (OEPs), Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and current trends in higher education. Dr. AYDIN has served as the International Chair and Board Member of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), as a board member of the International Council for Educational Media (ICEM), and as a member of the Open Educational Resources Committee (OER Advocacy Committee) of the International Council for Distance Education (ICDE). He is currently a steering committee member of the OpenupEd initiative of the European Council for Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU), board member of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), and member of the Centre for Distance Education Research (COER). He is also on the editorial boards of the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL), Educational Media International (EMI), and Journal of Open, Distance, and Digital Education (JODDE).