Frits Pannekoek, Ph.D.

President, ICDE, and President, Athabasca University

Frits Pannekoek Dr. Frits Pannekoek is the President of Athabasca University, the best known and most experienced Canadian University in distance education. He is also the President of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE), the leading global organization for the open and distance education community headquartered in Norway. Dr. Pannekoek is also active in many organizations involved in life long learning in Alberta and Canada including Alberta North, the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE) and the Canadian Virtual University (CVU). His experiences with distance learning and innovative learning environments have been of tremendous benefits to the open and distance education community.

Dr. Pannekoek is known for his works in communication, digital learning environments and the new information revolution. He has published widely on policy issues relating to digital environments, on information seeking behaviours in an internet world, and on open access publishing. He is also a frequent speaker at international forums including the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU), and the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU).

A member of Government of Alberta’s taskforce to redesign post secondary education and the chair of its affordability committee, he was instrumental in securing major research funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation to transform Canada’s scholarly communication from print to e-format. At Athabasca University he founded Canada’s first open access academic press (AUPRESS) with the intention of transforming scholarly communication so that all learners can have unfettered access to Canadian scholarship.

A graduate of University of Alberta, Dr. Pannekoek earned his Ph.D. from Queen’s University. As Director of Alberta Historic Sites and Archives, he provided leadership in the planning and development of more than a dozen heritage sites including the interpretive centre for Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As Director of Information Resources at the University of Calgary, he worked with colleagues and scholars to develop the first Information Commons in Canada, a unique social and digital learning environment. From there he went on to pursue his passion for open and distance education as Athabasca University’s President in 2005.

Dr. Pannekoek has a substantial reputation as a Canadian historian for the contributions he has made over the last 30 years in the academic fields of western Canadian and Metis history, museum and heritage studies, and information and communications studies.

Dr. Pannekoek is recognized in Canada for his leadership in the creation of digital resources and the transformation of academic publishing. He is internationally known as a champion of open and distance learning.

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