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Twenty-five research papers on open and distance eLearning (ODeL) authored by UP Open University (UPOU) faculty members; research, extension and professional staff (REPS); administrative employees, and research assistants were presented in the 31st Annual Conference of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU). Two of these research papers were given Young Innovators Awards. Assistant Professors Reinald Adrian Pugoy and Mari Anjeli Lubrica-Crisanto, faculty members of the Faculty of Information and Communication Studies (FICS), each received a Silver Medal for their respective research papers.

Dr. Melinda dela Peña Bandalaria, as the UPOU Chancellor and AAOU President, led the UPOU delegation composed of 37 personnel -- 29 presented research papers while 8 attended as members of the AAOU secretariat and as conference participants. The AAOU annual conference was held on 27-29 September 2017 at the Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

The UPOU research papers were spread over different parallel sessions following the themes: (1) Repositioning Open University in the Digital Era: Providing Sustainable Learning Pathways; (2) Leadership in Open, Distance and Online Learning University; (3) Quality Assurance in Open Univeristy; (4) Assessment and Accreditation of Learning in Open Univeristy; and (4) Access and Justice in Open, Distance and Online Learning. List of UPOU research papers presented in AAOU can be accessed from http://aaou2017.ut.ac.id/conference-program/.

Universitas Terbuka (UT) in Indonesia hosted this year’s conference, which was participated in by 300 participants from more than 30 countries. Experts on open and distance education from various countries served as keynote speakers. These include Dr. Bandalaria, who spoke about “Quality Assurance in Open Universities”; Professor Ir. Tian Belawati, Member of the ICDE Board of Trustees and former President of ICDE and AAOU, talked about “Leadership in Open and Distance Learning Universities;” and Dr. Wayne Mackintosh, founding Director of the Open Educational Resources Foundation in New Zealand, tackled “Access and Justice in Open, Distance and Online Learning.” Another featured speaker, Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Raj Dhanarajan, the first recipient of the 2004 AAOU Meritorious Award and recipient of the 2013 International Council for Distance Education (ICDE) Prize for Lifelong Contribution to Open and Distance Education, delivered the conference reflection.

As a full member institution of the AAOU, UPOU has actively participated in the AAOU Annual Conferences. In October 2016, UPOU hosted the 30th AAOU Annual Conference in Manila, Philippines, where Dr. Bandalaria was elected as the new President of the association and Dr. Grace Javier-Alfonso, the former Chancellor of UPOU, as Secretary-General.

The UPOU, with research as part of its tripartite function, enables and supports its personnel to participate in conferences and other academic gatherings to share research results and best practices, and to gain more exposure on the trends and developments in open and distance e-learning and other fields of studies. (Anna Cañas-Llamas)