Author Profile

Dr. Don Olcott Jr.

Dr. Don Olcott, Jr., FRSA, is the manager of strategic planning and engagement at the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) system office in the United Arab Emirates. Dr. Olcott is former Chief Executive of The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE) in the UK, former Chairman of the Board of Directors and President of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) and is a 2010 EDEN Fellow bestowed by the European Distance and eLearning Network (EDEN) for his leadership and contributions to European open and distance learning. He was a former member of the external Strategy Group of the Open University, served on the UK Online Learning Task Force (2009-2011); and is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts (FRSA). Dr. Olcott holds appointments as adjunct Professor of Education with the Faculty for the Professions at the University of New England – Australia and with the University of Maryland University College masters in distance education program. Dr. Olcott is a continuing member of USDLA’s Board of Directors and Chairs the association’s global partnership committee. Dr. Olcott serves on the Editorial Boards of the Merlot Journal of Online Teaching and Learning, Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimient (Spain), Open Learning (UK), The American Journal of Distance Education, the European Journal of Open and Distance Learning (EURODL), Distance Education (Australia) and the Asian Journal of Distance Education. Dr. Olcott previously served six years on the editorial board of Athabasca University’s International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL). Dr. Olcott was the senior editor on all research published by The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education 2007-2010. Dr. Olcott was the 1998 recipient of the Charles Wedemeyer award as the Outstanding Distance Education Practitioner in North America awarded by The American Center for the Study of Distance Education and the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He has published extensively for twenty years in ODL and international education and has consulted with universities, governments, and corporations across the globe. Dr. Olcott also has extensive experience teaching via technology, designing curriculum, and developing assessment tools for online learning. He has held faculty and administrative appointments at Western Washington University, the University of Missouri, Oregon State University, the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE), the University of Arizona, and Western Oregon University. Dr. Olcott has worked in the private sector as a Vice President for Higher Education and in his chief executive and research role with OBHE. He earned his bachelors and masters degrees from Western Washington University and took a doctorate at Oregon State University in higher education leadership. He has also completed advanced professional development at Harvard University, New York University and Cambridge University. Dr. Olcott was the 2010 recipient of Western Washington University’s (USA) Lifetime Achievement alumni award for his leadership and contributions to global higher education and ODL. Dr. Olcott’s research interests include language and culture in cross-border higher education, sustainable ODL and OER business models, innovative learning design models for ODL, and leadership and innovation in open and distance learning and open educational resources (OER). His personal interests include golf, history, travel, and language and culture.  

Recent Posts

Mobilizing Open Educational Resources (OER) in the UAE & GCC States


Open Educational Resources (OER) are growing rapidly across the globe. Open and freely accessible content, available to anyone anywhere and through digital media, has the capacity to re-shape the educational landscape in the UAE and GCC States. OER are not a panacea for resolving all the issues in education relevant to access, the cost of content, and the teaching, acquisition and application of knowledge through educational media. Rather they are resources that broaden the content continuum for educators to use for designing innovative and engaging teaching approaches that produce improved and rewarding learning experiences for students. Educational institutions in the UAE and GCC states may need to assess their local knowledge base about OER; how OER capacity aligns with the institution’s mission and teaching and learning infrastructure; the cultural, social, and linguistic issues relevant to OER; and what organizations may be potential partners for OER collaboration. The importance of creating OER in Arabic will be a critical learning resource for institutions in the UAE and GCC States regardless whether an institution’s instructional language is Arabic and/or English. Colleges and universities new to the OER movement may find it useful to establish a task force or working group to examine the potential of OER for the institution. OER are a brave new world of educational content for colleges and universities in the UAE and GCC member states.