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ICDE, the International Council for Open and Distance Education, is recognized by the United Nations (UNESCO), and serves as the Global Umbrella Membership Organization in Online, Flexible and Blended Learning, including e-learning and distance education.

ICDE provides a global network for the institutions around the world that are involved in this field and are members of ICDE. An important aim of ICDE is to promote intercultural co-operation and understanding through flexible and online learning throughout the world.

Established in 1938, ICDE's Permanent Secretariat is in Oslo, Norway, hosted by this country on a permanent basis since 1988.

ICDE derives its position as the global membership organisation for flexible learning and teaching from:

  • The unique knowledge and experience of its members throughout the world;
  • Expertise derived from this in development and use of new methodologoies and emerging technologies;
  • Its status within UNESCO as the NGO with Formal Consulative Relations in distance and online education.

International Recognition

ICDE is recognised by the United Nations, and serves as the global non-governmental organisation responsible for the field of open and distance learning, and is affiliated with the United Nations through UNESCO. ICDE is also an affiliate member of South East Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO) and a World Bank partner organisation.

In 2003 ICDE signed an agreement with the OAS/OEA (Organsiation of American States/Organizaciön de Estados Americanos) on capacity development of human resources throughout the Americas, through which OAS/OEA and ICDE will cooperate throughout the continent on development of capacity in distance and flexible learning.

ICDE has also participated in several EC (European Commission) supported projects, facilitating and fostering the establishment of educational institutions and networks beyond Europe.


In the years ahead the ICDE will be engaged in several main fields of action:

  • To promote quality in distance, flexible and ICT-based education around the world;
  • To work with member institutions, partners and the United Nations as well as professionals around the world to develop capacity in higher distance, flexible and ICT-based education;
  • To organise meetings and conferences around the world that focus on educational development and cooperation in and for the * * Information society;
  • To promote multiculturalism in the provision of virtual learning;
  • To work with governments, IGOs and the education sector to develop efficient and high quality education systems for the * information society


Practically every two years since 1938, ICDE has been organising World Conferences on Open and Distance Education. These conferences are major events, and offer a large variety of presentations on the issues related to open and distance education in all parts of the world.

Every year, unique networking and strategic partnership opportunities are arranged for ICDE member institutions through the annual ICDE Standing Conference of Presidents (SCOP), meetings for rectors/presidents and senior policy makers of member institutions.


ICDE collects and disseminates information and professional articles and news about distance education and e-learning around the world.

ICDE publishes the electronic journal Open Praxis. The journal is regularly updated with new articles and other information related to the field of open and distance education. It is available to our members and you need a password to have access to it.


ICDE is a global membership organization. By joining ICDE, you will get access to the leading network of expertise and experience of the world in flexible learning and teaching, including e-learning and open distance education.

Membership follows the calendar year.

ICDE only accepts as institutional members educational institutions that are recognized and in good standing in their own country or region, and that conduct their educational operations in accordance with codes of ethics in distance learning.

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