Olcott, Jr., Dr. Don

Global Higher Education Consultant
Bucharest, Romania

Career, Research Areas, and Projects

Dr. Don Olcott, Jr., FRSA, is a Global Higher Education Consultant specializing in open and distance education. He is also an adjunct Professor of Educational Leadership and Open and Distance Learning with the University of Maryland University College (USA) and an adjunct instructor with Oldenburg University, Germany. From 2014-2017, he served as Professor and Co-Director of the uImagine Digital Innovation Laboratory and as Head of Virtual Campus at Charles Sturt University in Australia.

From 2011-2013 he served in a lead consultancy role as the manager of strategic planning and international engagement with the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) system office in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) assisting in online higher education delivery. Don was made an EDEN Senior Fellow and Honorary Professor at the University of South Africa (Unisa) in June 2018. He was elected Vice Chair of the EDEN Council of Fellows in February 2019.

Dr. Olcott brings nearly 35 years of experience and leadership in higher, open and distance education; and ten years in the military and business. He was a 2016 Stanley Draczek Outstanding Teaching Award recipient from the University of Maryland University College for excellence in online teaching and learning. Don was recently re-elected for a second term to the Steering Committee of the European Distance and eLearning Network’s (EDEN) Network of Academic Professionals (NAP). He has served as an EDEN conference speaker and on the Annual Conference Planning committee since 2008.

Dr. Olcott is former Chief Executive of The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE) in the UK (2007-2011), 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. During 2014, he also consulted on major projects with the African Virtual University (AVU) in Kenya and with the British Council in the UK and Columbia.

Dr. Olcott was the 2013 recipient of the International Council of Distance Education (ICDE) Individual Prize of Excellence for his leadership and contributions to global open and distance education. Don holds dual Canadian-U.S. citizenship. Dr. Olcott was inducted in to the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) Hall of Fame in May 2014. Don formally served on 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 recently completed an honorary three-year (2011-2014) appointment as Professor of Education and ODL with the Faculty for the Professions at the University of New England – Australia. Dr. Olcott is a former member of USDLA’s Board of Directors (20021-2015) and former chair of the association’s global partnership committee.

Dr. Olcott serves on the Editorial Boards of the European Journal of Open and Distance Learning (EURODL), the Merlot Journal of Online Teaching and Learning, the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education – formerly the Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimient (Spain), Open Education (Greece), Open Learning (UK), The American Journal of Distance Education, the Asian Journal of Distance Education, and the Journal of Internet Learning (USA). Dr. Olcott previously served six years on the editorial board of Athabasca University’s International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL) from 2001-2007 and on the Distance Education (Australia) editorial board from 2008 – 2017. 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-five 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. Serving as lead editor, his 2006 book ‘Dancing on the Glass Ceiling: Women, Leadership and Technology’ is one of the first scholarly publications that examined women’s leader in open and distance learning and technology in general.

He has held faculty and administrative appointments at Charles Sturt University, Western Washington University, UMUC, Oldenburg University, the University of Missouri, Oregon State University, the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE), the University of Arizona, Western Oregon University, and honorary appointments as Professor at the University of South Africa and the University of New England in Australia. 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 – UK.

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, languages and culture. Don and his wife Nicoleta reside in Romania.

Selected Publications

  • Olcott, D. J. (2018). From Bucharest to Athens and beyond: The new global-local normal & lessons for 21st century leaders. I. M. Panagiotopoulos School Journal (Greece), 1-16.
  • Olcott, D. J., Dratwa, J., Parkin, J., Schmalzried, M., & Duart, J. M. (2016). Ethics, innovation and technology in education: From global perspectives to local practice. International Forum on Educational Technology, University Rovira & Virgili, Tarragona, Spain.
  • Olcott Jr. D., Carrera Farran, X., Gallardo Echenique, E. E., & González Martínez, J. (2015). Ethics and Education in the Digital Age: Global Perspectives and Strategies for Local Transformation in Catalonia. RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, 12(2). pp. 59-72. doi doi.org/10.7238/rusc.v12i2.2455
  • Wills, S., Dalagarno, B. & Olcott, D. J. (2015). Destination 2020: A roadmap for CSU’s online future: CSU distance education strategy. Bathurst, NWS, Australia: Charles Sturt University.
  • Olcott, D. J. (2014). African Virtual University (AVU) quality assurance framework for open and distance learning. Nairobi, Kenya: AVU.
  • Olcott, D. J. (2014). African Virtual University (AVU) full-fledged university planning framework. Nairobi, Kenya: AVU.
  • Olcott, D. J. (2014). Building digital bridges to the future: A primer for ministry leaders for school transformation via public & private educational partnerships. Microsoft Worldwide Education White Paper Series. Seattle: Microsoft.
  • Olcott, D. J. (2014). Making connections: Adaptive learning communities (ALCs).
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