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Emeritus Professor recognised for contribution to distance education

The backdrop at an awards ceremony shows a slide. Copy reads: ICDE Awards Honorary Membership to Alan Tait, with a photo of Alan in the centre

Professor Emeritus Alan Tait, former Pro-Vice Chancellor of The Open University, has been awarded Honorary Lifetime Membership of the ICDE (International Council for Open and Distance Education), one of only 13 honorary memberships granted during the organisation’s 85-year history.


ICDE is the leading, global membership organisation that works towards bringing accessible, quality education to all through open, flexible and distance learning. ICDE honorary membership recognises distinguished contributions to ICDE.
Professor Tait’s citation from ICDE stated that “Professor Tait’s exceptional knowledge and insight have been invaluable to ICDE and the whole global community of OFDL. His inclusive and professional leadership style has been greatly appreciated by us all.”


Alan Tait, Professor Emeritus Distance Education and Development, is a former Director of International Development and Teacher Education at The Open University. He was Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University from 2007 to 2012, and was previously Executive Dean of the Faculty of Education and Language Studies (FELS), now Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS).


Professor Tait reflected on the award:

“ICDE means a lot to me and has a meant a lot to The Open University over many years. Previous Presidents of ICDE have included former OU-employees Sir John Daniel, Vice Chancellor and Professor David Sewart, Director of Student Services.
ICDE brings together colleagues in open and online education from all around the world, with over 700 attending the recent World Conference in Costa Rica where I received my award. I feel receiving a Lifetime Honorary Membership is a recognition of the respect for The Open University, as well as a great honour conferred to me.” 


Professor Tait has held several significant roles within ICDE. He was a member of the Executive Committee from 2016 to 2019, Member of the Editorial Board of Open Praxis (ICDE’s journal) until 2021 and Chair of the ICDE Quality Network from 2016 to 2022. He has supported ICDE in significant policy consultations and undertaken several quality reviews on their behalf.  


He has worked widely in developing countries, and for international organisations such as UNESCO, the European Commission, and the Commonwealth of Learning. Throughout his career, Professor Tait has been committed to the use of Open, Distance and Flexible Learning (OFDL) for social justice and inclusion.


Recently, Professor Tait’s main academic work has been as a member of a team evaluating the shift to online examinations for University of London worldwide programmes, and collaborating with Professor Stylianos Hatzipanagos (University of London) on contemporary understandings of academic integrity in the light of the turn to online assessment and innovations in artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT.

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