2008 was a momentous year for CDE. An HEFCE e-Benchmarking project contributed to by CDE became a cornerstone of a ten-year eStrategy for universities in England and Wales. CDE supported a successful bid by the Vice-Chancellor to host the fifth pan-commonwealth forum on open learning in London, attracting over 700 delegates from 70 countries for the five-day event in July 2008, with an associated meeting of Vice-Chancellors organised in collaboration with UNESCO immediately before the Forum. The success of these bids was widely considered a significant achievement, and an important step not only in raising the profile of the CDE, but also that of the External System, internationally.
But by 2008 the nature of distance education had changed enormously, with the rapid growth of virtual learning environments, increasing focus on user generation of Web content and person-to-person interaction via web applications, and increasing interest in blended and flexible approaches to learning, resulting in a blurring of the traditional demarcations between distance and campus-based learning.
These dramatic changes made it much harder to maintain the original role of CDE of providing specialist advice and development support to course teams in the Colleges preparing distance learning programmes within the External System. As member institutions developed their own in-house capacity for developing online learning, the focus for CDE began to shift more towards new programme planning, through discussions with academic managers in Colleges, establishing protocols and guidelines for programme developments, and contributing to programme development more broadly through initiatives such as the eBenchmarking project.
In 2010, the first Visiting Fellows were appointed to CDE and in 2015 a new CDE Strategy was approved by the Learning,Teaching and Assessment Sub-Committee (LTAS).