By honouring excellence in distance education, COL gives due recognition to remarkable achievements and endeavours to benefit those who seek to emulate examples of good practice in the field. COL's Excellence in Distance Education Awards (EDEA) acknowledge that excellence is being achieved at many points in the learning process: at the institutional level, in the development of learning materials and in terms of individual educator and student attainment.

EDEA have become a highly prized and sought after recognition of achievement by institutions/organisations and individuals around the Commonwealth and are presented every three years during each Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF).

Award Categories

EDEA include four categories: acknowledging excellence occurring at the overall institutional level, in the development of learning materials, in student accomplishment, and of a lifetime's work as an educator.

1. Award of Excellence for Institutional Achievement

COL presents up to three awards for institutional excellence. The awards recognise significant institutional achievements in the innovative and effective application of technology-enabled learning and open and distance learning methodologies, which reach students who may not have otherwise participated in the learning or training experience. Learn more

2. Award of Excellence for Open and Distance Education Materials

There are two categories of awards for recognition of excellence in open and distance education materials and COL will present up to three awards in each category. The categories are:

Category A: print, electronically delivered materials or other low-cost media materials, such as audio, video, or a combination of these.

Category B: open educational resources (OER) –use, re-use and innovation

Learn more

3. Award Recognising Distance Learning Experience

COL presents two awards for excellence in a distance learning experience, the first recognising distance learning experience in a degree-granting programme and the second recognising an eLearning experience in difficult circumstances.

Category A: Award for Distance Learning Experience in a Degree-Granting Programme. 
This award provides a forum for the expression of student experience in learning through distance education.

Category B: Award for an eLearning Experience in Difficult Circumstances.
The award for an eLearning experience under difficult circumstances provides a forum to acknowledge the eLearning experience of learners from international organisations who have completed a COL delivered, workplace eLearning course.

Learn more 

4. Honorary Fellows

The designation of COL Honorary Fellow recognises outstanding individual contributions to distance education in areas such as: leadership and service, published works including courseware, lectures and presentations and mentorship. COL names Honorary Fellows during the PCF8, but does not seek nominations for this award.

List of COL Honorary Fellows


General Criteria and Process for EDEA

  1. The President of COL appoints a three-member judging panel for each award category. Only one of the three adjudicators is a member of the Staff or Board of COL.

  2. Only complete entries will be considered by the judging panels.

  3. The panels reserve the right not to make awards in one or more categories and will not exceed the maximum number of awards stated for each category.

  4. Except for the award recipients, no prior notification of the adjudication results will be made.

  5. The judging panels' decisions will be final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding the selection process. Appeals will not be entertained.

  6. All submissions (including courseware) for consideration by the judging panel will not be returned. They will be kept by COL as exemplars of good practice.

  7. COL reserves the right to demonstrate the materials selected for an award with due acknowledgement to the organisations/institutions.

  8. We regret that we will not be able to respond to requests on the status of your submission.

  9. COL will not normally cover travel and accommodation costs for attendance at the Forum and presentation ceremony, except for the recipients of the Distance Learning Experience Awards.

  10. The awards are presented at each Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF).