COL Chairs Programme

The COL Chairs Programme was started in 2010 to (i) facilitate the development of effective open and distance learning (ODL) and technology-enhanced education and training through advocacy, research and capacity-building across the Commonwealth; (ii) strengthen regional cooperation; and (iii) provide visibility for COL in the field. Over the last eight years, several distinguished academics from across the Commonwealth have been designated as an ‘Honorary COL Chair,’ sometimes in collaboration with UNESCO. While the Honorary COL Chair programme served its initial objectives, the programme is being refocused in light of experiences gained and the emerging scenario for promoting learning for sustainable development, as part of COL’s Strategic Plan (2015-2021).

The COL Chairs Programme enhances COL’s academic and intellectual presence in the fields of ODL, open educational resources (OER), technology-enabled learning (TEL) and learning for sustainable development. The Chairs undertake research and innovation in the areas of competence of COL.


Terms of Reference

The COL Chair is expected to:

  • Understand, support and advocate COL’s role in the Commonwealth, and align the Chair activities to COL’s Strategic Plan (2015-2021);
  • Organise, facilitate and engage in research, innovation and thought leadership relative to the current and emerging trends in ODL, OER, TEL and learning for sustainable development;
  • Work at all levels of education, including lifelong learning, and in formal and non-formal settings, in cooperation with universities, civil society organisations, or other institutions;
  • Leverage and expand their network within and outside the Commonwealth to support the Chair activities;
  • Document and disseminate through reporting and other means, the work/findings from the Chair activities with COL and all stakeholders in the region and the larger Commonwealth in a manner that may facilitate uptake by all stakeholders, within these regions and beyond;
  • Promote and strengthen regional cooperation by creating an environment to facilitate and sustain the sharing of intellectual and physical resources (e.g., course materials, delivery systems and networking) for promoting ODL, OER, TEL and learning for sustainable development at all levels; and
  • Serve as Ambassadors of COL and uphold the highest level of professionalism in carrying out the Chair activities.


COL Chairs

Professor Mohamed Ally, Centre for Distance Education, Athabasca University (Canada)

Professor Mpine Makoe, Institute for Open and Distance Learning, University of South Africa (South Africa)

Professor T.V. Prabhakar, Department of Computer Science, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (India)

Professor George Veletsianos, School of Education and Technology, Royal Roads University (Canada)

Professor Martin Weller, Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University (United Kingdom)


Call for Applications

Deadline for the next call as June 30, 2021

The strategic objectives of the COL Chairs programme are to:

For applications and instructions for submission see the following documents. COL Chairs must be Commonwealth citizens. A COL Chair normally serves a three-year term.  

COL Chair Programme Overview

COL Chair Programme Application


Former COL Chairs

Dr Robin Day, Otago Polytechnic (New Zealand)

Professor Tolly S.A. Mbwette, Open University of Tanzania (Tanzania)

Professor Rory McGreal, Athabasca University (Canada)

Professor Vincent Tenebe, National Open University of Nigeria (Nigeria)

Professor Joel Warrican, Open Campus Barbados, University of the West Indies (Barbados)