DR. MELINDA DELA PEÑA BANDALARIA
Chancellor
University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU)

She is a leading advocate and one of the most sought-after experts in open and distance e-learning in the country and the region. She has been championing quality open and distance e-learning for more than two decades now in various capacities and positions that she had occupied and currently occupying in various organizations and networks.

Dr. Bandalaria has significantly contributed to the further development of ODL in the region in her capacity as President of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) from 2017 to 2019. During her term and with the support of the AAOU Executive Committee, she instituted the AAOU Collaborative Research Program among AAOU member institutions to promote and further enhance the culture of research and collaboration among Asian Open Universities and contribute more significantly to the knowledge building about ODL in the context of Asia, which is home to the largest open universities in the world. She also led the association in granting the AAOU Conference Fellowship to a researcher/author who has published a paper at the AAOU Journal in order to encourage publication at the Association’s journal as well as encourage participation of more good researchers in AAOU Annual conferences.

Dr. Bandalaria has also shared her expertise and support to the international scene in her involvements as: (1) Chair for Working Group 3 Inclusive Equitable Quality OER: Encouraging inclusive and equitable quality OER) UNESCO OER Dynamic Coalition, (2) Member of the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) Expert Group on Lifelong and Flexible Learning Pathways; (3) Founding Member (representing both UPOU and AAOU) in the Benchmarking Framework and Data Set for Online, Open, Smart and Technology-enhanced Higher Education; (4) Coordinating President of OU5 (a group of five open universities in SE Asia collaborating on projects and research on open distance e-learning and ASEAN Studies);(5) Member of the Executive Committee of the Asian Association of Open Universities; (6) Chair of the Asian Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs) Steering Committee; (7) active member of the UNESCO ICT-Competency Framework for Teachers (ICT-CFT) OER Network; and as Advisory Board member of the School of e-Education at Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University which is based in Dubai, UAE. Just this 22 March 2021, Dr. Bandalaria has been appointed as an ICDE Ambassador for OER and a member of the ICDE OER Advocacy Committee (OERAC) for a term of two years.

As Chancellor of the University of the Philippines – Open University (UPOU) for the past six years, Dr. Bandalaria has initiated a strategic plan to put quality assurance at the core of the university’s operations under the banner program “QAlidad” which plays on the words “QA” and “kalidad” — the Filipino translation of the word “quality”. Through this strategy and under her leadership, the University has embarked on several initiatives including the documentation of best practices in open and distance e-learning in the university, workshops to prepare UPOU academic programs for eventual review under the ASEAN University Network (AUN Framework), development of online portal for training of faculty members on the principles and active of online teaching and learning, development of massive open online courses in cutting edge as well as socially impactful areas (e.g., business analytics, business process outsourcing, child rights protection, etc.,), and production of open educational resources in video formats on a range of relevant topics and issues. To enhance the research capability of the institution particularly in open and distance learning, she has supported the provision of grants to enable faculty members and research staff to present papers at national and international conferences. During her term, the University also embarked on upgrading some of its existing online platforms, including its academic information and management system, online examination system, and online psychosocial counseling. It is worth mentioning that she initiated the development and offering of the Philippine model of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in the university and the country and spearheaded the development of the model of producing OERs and MOOCs that directly correspond to the content of credit courses (which aimed for their greater use, relevance, and impact to higher education as well as promote the use of MOOCs as OERs). To further make the university services and programs/courses more inclusive and accessible, she also initiated the Universal Access Program in 2018 which aimed at integrating the basic features of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to the university website and the Universal Design for Learning on the OERs and MOOCs that the university has developed.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced academic institutions to embrace remote learning, Dr. Bandalaria led the University’s program #openfight which provided open online training opportunities to teachers and school officials to enable them to teach in this mode of instructional delivery and still ensure the quality of education being provided to the various learners. This was done in collaboration with the country’s Commission on Higher Education and other government and private organizations/agencies.

Dr. Bandalaria has published journal articles and book chapters on a range of topics in ODL, including universal design for learning, online learning, learner support, assessment, quality assurance, and teacher professional development through ODeL. Her achievements and contributions in the field of open and distance learning was recognized by the Asian Association of Open Universities when she was conferred the 2021 AAOU Meritorious Service Awards. She has also been a recipient of several awards such as Gawad Pangulo for Excellence in Public Service (2017), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) Alumni Association Outstanding Alumni Award, and UPLB College of Development Communication Outstanding Alumni Award (2014).