Manuel Antonio Beach, Costa Rica. Nearly 25% of the country is protected through national parks with some of the richest wildlife anywhere in the world: Image: Tony Bates, 2023

I first attended an International Council of Distance Education world conference in Vancouver in 1982. It was my first visit to beautiful Vancouver, and I’ve been to most of the ICDE’s four-yearly world conferences since then. Little did I realise in 1982 that Vancouver would eventually become my home.

This year the conference is in equally beautiful Costa Rica, and thanks to the support of Contact North I will be attending next week (November 6-10). By chance, my wife and I visited Costa Rica for the first time this February, sailing on a small ship along the Pacific coast from Puentarenas to Panama City. It is such a beautiful country with some of the best beaches in the world.

The global community of distance education experts, administrators, instructors and scholars is one of the strongest professional networks you will ever come across, so I am going to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, with great expectations. The conference is hosted by UNED Costa Rica, the national open university. 

However, as I am now retired it will be my last conference, and I will take the opportunity to say a final farewell in person to all my many friends and colleagues from around the world. 

I also intend to write a daily report of my experience there next week, starting on Tuesday, when the conference opens. It will be a very personal report and will in no way be comprehensive and certainly not official, but I hope to learn a great deal in the short time I am there, both good and bad, as at most conferences.

If you are going, even if we haven’t previously met in person, do say hello to me at the conference. If you are not able to go, I hope my blog posts will provide a personal overview of the key points of some of the presentations.


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