Ishan_lgI’m a highly skilled project manager with a wide range of expertise in educational technology, a sound academic background and over 10 years of international experience in various capacities. I have held key positions in Canada, UK, Malaysia and Sri Lanka since 2007. In the education sector, I have worked with governments, higher education institutions and TVET institutions in Asia, Africa, Americas, Europe, the Pacific and the Caribbean. I also come with five years of teaching experience at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. With a strong list of publications, I have keen research interests in OER, eLearning, MOOC and ODL. My technical interests include mobile, VR and AR application development. Currently, I’m in the field of international development where I help governments and institutions mainstream OER. 

In my current position at the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), I have developed policy tools such as the Institutional OER Policy Template available in English, French, Spanish and Tamil; provincial OER policy template (Sri Lanka); and regional OER guidelines templates (Botswana and Cameroon). Using these tools, I have been able to develop 40 ODFL/OER policies for TVET institutions in Kenya, 10 Institutional OER policies for Open Universities in India, 9 provincial OER policies in Sri Lanka, 10 regional OER guidelines in Cameroon, and 10 regional OER guidelines in Botswana. The new “bottom-up” approach I had used in Sri Lanka, Botswana and Cameroon allowed COL to advocate OER to a wider audience and sensitize 608 policymakers in the general education system covering the entire country. Furthermore, I have realized that the Western model of OER for Sustainable Development doesn’t really fit the needs of the developing countries in the Commonwealth. As such, I focused my policy work to tailor OER for Sustainable Development in developing countries of the commonwealth where access is limited by a number of National inhibitors. Additionally, I have delivered hands-on OER course development workshops in St. Lucia, Kenya, Nigeria, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, Fiji and Tonga building capacity in over 200 teachers from Higher Education, K-12 Education, TVET and Non-Formal Education. These capacity building workshops have led to the development of 27 OER based courses to date. I was also a member of the COL/UNESCO Global Task Team for the OER Regional Consultations leading up to the 2nd World OER Congress in Slovenia and acted as the facilitator/convener of the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Consultation, held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where 31 government officials, policymakers, advocates and researcher from 21 countries participated to identify the current state of play with respect to OER in the region and concrete actions to drive the OER movement. Further, I was the co-author of the Open Educational Resources in the Commonwealth 2016 report and editorial team member for the OER: Global Report 2017 and OER: From Commitment to Action Reports published by COL.

Prior to joining COL, I held the positions of Director, International Academic Relations Division and Acting Director, National Online Distance Education Service (NODES) at The Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL). OUSL is the premier Open and Distance learning institution in Sri Lanka where students can pursue their studies through Open and Distance Learning (ODL) methodologies. Currently, there are more than 35,000 students studying at the OUSL, who are being served by eight Regional Centres and eighteen Study Centres located around the country with the main campus located in Colombo. The International Academic Relations Division (IRD) acts as the interface between OUSL and the global academic community. Reporting to the Vice Chancellor, my role as the Director of the IRD was to enrich the academic, economic and cultural aspects of OUSL staff and students by establishing international collaborations with like-minded individuals and institutions while managing all operational aspects of the division. At the IRD I supervised an Assistant Director, IT Support staff and office assistant. In this position, I developed and implemented the institutional OER policy for OUSL; established the OUSL “Distinguished Lecture Series” where eight scholarly lectures were delivered monthly by eminent international academics to a local and global audience – the lectures were streamed live and recorded for offline viewing; signed three MoUs with China Yunnan Open University, Open University of Hong Kong and University of Media Arts, Korea; facilitated ten international workshops; organized three staff development attachments to Wawasan Open University, Malaysia and Sukhothai Thammatirat Open University, Thailand with a total number of 31 OUSL staff; and organized one student exchange program to Shanghai Open University, China with a total number of five students. In addition, several exploratory meetings were organized with foreign Universities to identify areas of collaboration.

The NODES is an entrepreneurial, self-sustaining, national agency established to coordinate the delivery of online distance education programs. NODES provides the means to develop ODL institutions. Furthermore, it provides expertise and facilities for curriculum development through the Content Development Unit. NODES services, provided through public and private institutions, can deliver online education and training courses to students across Sri Lanka and overseas. Reporting to the Vice Chancellor of the OUSL, I was responsible for providing direction to all operations within NODES. At NODES, I supervised technical staff such as software developers, web developers, network engineers and multimedia specialists in addition to administrative, HR, marketing and finance staff. I was also responsible for managing the technical and administrative staff in the 26 NODES Access Centers (NACs) distributed across the country. In total, approximately 50 staff were under my supervision. As the Acting Director of NODES, I migrated the NODES data center to OUSL premises; streamlined the NODES operations including the 26 NACs distributed island wide; developed business plans to achieve self-sustainability for NODES; designed technical plans to revamp existing technology architecture; generated new business from the public and private sectors; and designed action plans to deliver high quality distance education to the masses.

On the academic front, I was a Senior Lecturer in IT at the School of Science and Technology, Wawasan Open University (WOU), Penang, Malaysia for five years. I served a term as the Deputy Dean of the School from July 2013 to August 2014. WOU was established in 2006 with a unique and socially responsible objective – to provide working Malaysians access to quality higher education via ODL regardless of their educational, ethnic or socio-economic background. As the Deputy Dean, reporting to the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic), I provided leadership in all administrative and academic functions of the school. Additionally, I held the portfolio of the Dean for one year in his absence. I directly managed 17 academic staff including four PhD holders and two administrative staff. In this position, I provided leadership in administrative and academic functions of the school; designed financial projections and operating budgets for the school; provided leadership in undergraduate and postgraduate affairs, course development and delivery, tutor assessment and examinations; established research clusters in the school; and lectured a total of 8-10 courses per year at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

As a Senior Lecturer at WOU, reporting to the Dean of the school, I was responsible for teaching, course development for distance learning, tutor management, assessments, research and publications. Every semester, I managed approximately 30 tutors, with Masters and PhD qualifications, in the regional offices. Further, I designed and developed five Bachelor of Technology (Hons) degrees in Software Engineering, Information Systems, Multimedia Design, Networks and Data Communication and Database Management; designed and developed the MBA in Manufacturing and Production Management program; successfully coordinated the program accreditations for BTech (Hons) in Electronic Commerce and BTech (Hons) in Information Systems by the Malaysian Qualification Agency (MQA); and lectured a total of 8-10 courses per year at undergraduate and postgraduate level. The courses I taught are Advanced Manufacturing (PG), Enterprise Resource Planning (PG), Visual Programming, Human Computer Interaction, Electronic Commerce, Data Structures and Algorithms, Website Design and Development, Operating Systems, Intelligent Systems for Decision Support, Web Database Applications and Software Project Management. Additionally, I conducted research and development funded by foreign and local grants; and developed/co-authored ODL course material for UG and PG courses.