The UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (UNESCO IITE) participated in the 2020 Global Smart Education Conference, which was held online and on-site in Beijing, China on 20-22 August 2020 by Beijing Normal University with the support of the Department of Science and Technology of the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China.
The 2020 Global Smart Education Conference served as a virtual platform for dialogue and collaboration to find diverse approaches and possibilities for smart education and address the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Themed “Artificial Intelligence and Future Education”, the 2020 Global Smart Education Conference aimed to explore a shared future for mankind in the intelligence era, highlighting the development of high-end platforms for exchange and cooperation, facilitation of innovative integration of technologies and education, and promotion of equity in education and personalized growth.
During the 2020 Global Smart Education Conference, UNESCO IITE, Commonwealth of Learning, International Society for Technology in Education, National Research University Higher School of Economics and Beijing Normal University jointly launched the Project on Rethinking and Redesigning National Smart Education Strategy. The goal of the five-year project is to study the major issues and trends of the futures of education and explore the solutions for the integration of IT and education in order to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education, so that everyone could benefit from the opportunities of lifelong learning.
Mr. Tao Zhan, Director of UNESCO IITE, welcomed the participants during the opening ceremony of the Conference and shared his expectation on the development and research projects on the futures of education.
Digitalization and intelligence would inject new vigor into educational development and the project would strongly facilitate the realization of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4) and Education 2030 proposed by UNESCO.
Tao Zhan, Director of UNESCO IITE
During the Conference, the participants explored the influences of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the futures of education and discussed the latest achievements and development trends in smart education. The programme of the Conference included 12 forums covering the following core themes:
- AI and the Futures of Education
- The Futures of Education and Teachers’ Capacity Building
- Smart Education in 5G Era
- Governance and Social Perspective for AI
- AI and Big Data in Education
- K12 Education in the Age of Intelligence
- Open Educational Resources for Inclusive Education
- The New Ecology of Regional Smart Education
- Smart Village and Smart Social Development
- International Science Education
- ICT Promoting the Innovation and Development of Higher Education
- Smart Learning and the Futures of Education
The 2020 Global Smart Education Conference received a wide coverage and brought together over 3,000,000 online and on-site participants from all over the world, including the experts in education and technology from UNESCO, Canada, China, Ghana, France, Japan, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Within the Conference, UNESCO IITE, the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO), the UNESCO International Research and Training Centre for Rural Education (INRULED) jointly organized the Forum “Utilizing Open Educational Resources (OER) for achieving inclusive education”. Ms. Svetlana Knyazeva, Chief of the Unit of Digital Pedagogy and Learning Materials at UNESCO IITE, contributed to the Forum as a keynote speaker. In her presentation “OER for Inclusive Education: Generic View and Perspective”, she made a compelling argument for OER, which have the potential to make a significant contribution to SDG 4 with its key pillars of access, equity and inclusion. Ms. Knyazeva provided an overview of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Educational Resources adopted by the UNESCO General Conference at its 40th session in November 2019, as well as gave examples of UNESCO IITE activities aimed to promote OER in non-English-speaking countries. In her concluding remarks she emphasized that
Inclusion in education is not only about disability, it is about age, minority people and languages, marginalized groups, low-income families, displaced and disadvantaged people, etc. Therefore, the principles of the UNESCO OER Recommendation should support all aspects related to the use of OER for the purpose of providing access and ensuring the quality of open educational content for the sake of its accessibility and inclusivity for all stakeholders.
Svetlana Knyazeva, Senior National Project Officer in Education, Chief of the Unit of Digital Pedagogy and Learning Materials, UNESCO IITE
Recognizing the pivotal role and critical influence of science and technology towards shaping a more secure and sustainable future, the 2020 Global Smart Education Conference gave due and requisite attention to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education – its primary mission, impact and benefits. Ms. Natalia Amelina, Chief of the Unit of Teacher Professional Development and Networking at UNESCO IITE, joined the International Science Education Forum as a keynote speaker with a presentation on the true measures of STEM education, its objectives and aspirations for today and tomorrow. Since STEM education is integral in today’s world to various even non-STEM careers, in her presentation Ms. Amelina dwelled specifically on the competencies developed by students through STEM, which provide them with the foundation to advance at school and far beyond.
STEM education, when duly organized and delivered, contributes greatly to the progression of the 21st century skill sets that prepare learners to brace themselves for a lifetime of success.
Natalia Amelina, Senior National Project Officer in Education, Chief of Unit of Teacher Professional Development and Networking, UNESCO IITE
Having initially elaborated on the UNESCO mission and guidelines regarding STEM education, Ms. Amelina further shared the good practice and expertise of UNESCO IITE in supporting the advancement of STEM education across regions.
The 2020 Global Smart Education Conference was co-organized by UNESCO IITE, UNESCO IICBA, UNESCO INRULED, ASLECSO, Commonwealth of Learning, International Society for Technology in Education, International Association of Smart Learning Environments, Cardiff University (United Kingdom), National Research University Higher School of Economics (Russia), Centre for Research and Development in Learning at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), State Key Laboratory of Virtual Reality Technology and Systems (China), National Engineering Laboratory for Educational Big Data (China) and National and Local Joint Engineering Laboratory for Learning Analysis Technology of Cyberlearning Data (China).
More information about the 2020 Global Smart Education Conference and video recordings of the Conference Forums are available at the official website.