Collaboration, Ed-tech ecosystems, open data, MOOCs (massive open online course), entrepreneurial innovation, and digitalization of learning are all talk at this year’s summit.
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Technology is transforming everything that it touches. In the business world, old and reliable models are in the midst of being outdated. The same is true of higher education which is also being affected by the technological forces at work.
With that in mind, the University of Agder hosted a successful international conference on 7-9 June 2017. The conference brought together some 140 experts from academia, government, international organizations and industry from all continents and representing about 20 countries.
“At this juncture, with an awareness that you can’t just focus on the Norwegian context regarding the topic of “smart universities”, the idea was to sort of look openly, regionally and globally, and to the future and see where these trends are going,” said Oddgeir Tveiten, professor at Agder University and summit chair.
Cathy Casserly, a research affiliate from the Institute of the Future, opened the summit by her keynote on the importance of open data for learning as a public good that can benefit all. She noted that the rapidly changing work market impacted by digitalization and automation forces is leading societies to embrace more and more adaptive organizational strategies and skills.
Entrepreneurs in the Ed-tech industry and policy makers provided interesting insights on their world at the nexus of new media innovation and education. Innovative players-like Udacity, Coursera, and EdCast- are developing new platforms, which bring new approaches to content. These innovative forms need progressive government policies to ensure adoption at an early stage and fostering the Nordic entrepreneurial ideas.
“Digital higher education efforts combine needs for stable and scalable content-delivery systems and pedagogic experts, researchers who craft interventions but also have to handle ‘big data,’ and complicated programmatic considerations,” said Kristian Collin Berge founder and CEO at EdTech Foundry. “That is not easy, my team focuses on identifying challenges and providing solutions. By meeting other peers through the World Learning Summit, we found we each face many of the same obstacles — and our conference discussions helped thinking about efforts for shared solutions.”
The conference also touched upon the gap between the haves and the have-nots that is widening in the world. “A lot of the growing disparity has to do with challenges that higher education is facing today”, said Janes-Frances Agbu, Head of the Open Educational Resources at the National Open University of Nigeria. “To narrow the gap between North and South, it is important to encourage open-access data to academic knowledge,” added the conference attendee.
In addressing the conference participants, keynote speakers Sir John Daniel and Stamenka Uvalić-Trumbić concurred on many common challenges our societies face in the post-truth and post-trust political era characterized by the rise of populism and cherry-picked facts. They insisted upon the importance of universities and quality of education in restoring truth and objectivity.
Dr. Joseph Press from the Center for Creative Leadership addressed the conference regarding design-based thinking when planning education, curriculum development and co-creation of knowledge.
The closing keynote was given by Dr. Brian Magerko on 9 June on the theme of artificial intelligence and how it impacts our work practices and interactions with humans.
The entire summit was videotaped. Videos and all keynote presentations will be made available on the conference website. Five student assistants filmed the conference and twittered throughout the summit. An edited version of their production will also be made available on the website.