Thank you President McAleese

Her Excellency Mary McAleese, President of Irland, addressed 425 delegates from 40 countries at EDEN’s Annual Conference in Dublin. It was the first time a Head of State adressed an EDEN conference, and the audience was really impressed by the President’s speech which is available online.

The #edendublin Tweeters reported that the President sparkled, and the delegates’ heartly applaus was echoed in Steve Wheeler’s blog: “For at least 20 minutes, she held her audience spellbound as she recounted a history of learning technology and applauded EDEN for its massive contribution to our understanding of the digital incursions into education through the years.” The standing ovation was further prolonged in Alastair Creelman’s blog: “The standard of the keynote speakers at the conference was very high and all made excellent contributions but the strongest impression in my opinion was the address given by the Irish President, Mary McAleese…. Her address was as much a keynote speech as the other experts.

EDEN Vice President Alan Bruce was Master of Ceremony, and IADT President Annie Doona welcomed President McAleese. After  the President’s well received address, it was my honor and pleasure to give the following thank you speech to the President:

Your Excellency!

Distinguished Guests, Rectors, Professors and Colleagues.

It is a very great honour and pleasure for the European Distance and E-Learning Network that our Annual Conference was addressed by the President of Ireland. I would like to thank you for your important speech on behalf of the Executive Committee, the Members of the Association and the 425 conference delegates from 40 countries present, coming from all continents.

I am confident that this high level message will have significant impact for the event, opening eyes for better understanding of comprehensive problems and their solutions, and also stimulating the better understanding of what we can learn from the professional community of the host country.

The aim of the 2011 EDEN conference is to integrate better the concept of responsible and sustainable development within learning. The issue of a socially and environmentally sustainable future is high on the global agenda. We face problems of exceptionally complex nature. Sustainability is therefore acquiring a new meaning as an inclusive concept. Movements around sustainability and ecology in the past decade changed our approaches and thinking in radical and inclusive ways. Exploring sustainability and its connected economic, political, social, cultural, technological and environmental aspects are central for the progress of the digital knowledge society.

Aspects around equality and access in learning are nowadays also increasingly treated with deeper sensitivity and importance. Equal opportunities and socially inclusive outcomes are emerging as key aspects of social sustainability. We need to revisit how e-learning can contribute to increasing quality of opportunity, empowering participation in the sustainable learning communities. Sustainability and openness go hand in hand. Sustainability and openness together represent collaborative creativity, connectivity, access and transparency.

The EDEN Conference in Dublin has been organized with a unique constellation of supportive features and collaborating institutions. The host country is Ireland, which has been for a generation, a symbolic region of Europe for innovation and development. The “Green Island” is famous for its atmosphere and environment, close to nature, supporting learning and cultural vibrancy. It offers a stimulating and creative setting for the conference.

The host institution: the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology is full of new ideas and creativity and represents a pioneering approach to education programmes and sustainable learning. The pleasant surroundings and excellent convention facilities of the conference venue, University College Dublin, will ensure inspiration for both intellectual exploration, dialogue, learning partnerships and collaboration. We thank our Irish partners for their invaluable support for the successful organisation of the conference.

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen!

EDEN is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. The past two decades witnessed an impressive development of distance and e-learning. With the raise of the Information Society, the new positioning of access to information and knowledge, unprecedented opportunities have opened for the initiatives in ICTs and learning. EDEN has been supportive in this challenging environment by promoting and recognising professional development, strengthening the community of scholars, helping consolidation of knowledge, enhancing the quality of learning and by encouraging European and international co-operation.

Thank you for the possibility of talking to you and for your attention.

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