2nd International Congress on Education and Informatics.

In accordance with resolution 1.18 of the 27th Session of the General Conference (October-November 1993) the 2nd International Congress on Education and Informatics was organized and held by the UNESCO in cooperation with the Government of the Russian Federation. The policy in the area of education and new technologies was a key topic of the Congress.

The 1st UNESCO Congress “Education and Informatics” held in Paris in 1989 and focused on strengthening of international cooperation in this field underlined the need for “using collective experience and joint exploitation of limited resources in the sphere of new information tecnologies in education”. As a consequence, expansion of international cooperation was recommended in this area.

In the letter about the 2nd Congress, disseminated by the UNESCO head-quarter in January 1996, the UNESCO General Director F. Mayor pointed out that considerable progress achieved in the last few years in information and communication technologies resulted in a quick change of computer hardware and software generations and their merging, in an innovatory manner, with other technologies. As a result, unprecedented combinations of information facilities have emerged, which have led to the formation of “information community”. The appearance of “information supermains” calls for the critical revision of the state of the art and perspectives of development of education systems, which is particularly needed due to the leading development of technologies as compared to the possibilities of their application in education of all levels.

The modern strategy in education is being built with regard for new educational technologies and legal and legislative principles which form the basis for particular decisions and results. As a consequence, the word “education” in the Congress name was put at the first place.

Since the organizers of the Congress proceeded from the priority of education, it is not by accident that Russia, with its internationally recognized achievements in education, was chosen as a country to hold the Congress. At the Moscow Congress Russia represented not only the country-organizer of this global meeting, but also one of the most advanced countries in the field of education and application of new technologies for education development.

The Moscow Congress was preceded by great organizational work related, in particular, to the determination of the team of participants and observers, invited lecturers to appear at plenary sessions and commission meetings, and preparation of reports and abstracts.

The Congress became an extraordinary event in the life of the world society, an international forum for discussing and solving the problems of education and informatics, which will determine in many respects the pathways of mankind in the 21st century. At the same time, it became a marked event in the life of Russia and the Russian education system and an important step on the road to integration of the world education systems.

More than 1200 representatives of governments, science and business from many countries, specialized UN institutions, government and nongovernment international organizations took part in the Congress. Researchers, professors and lecturers from educational institutions, representatives of industry, experts on informatics and communications engaged in using NITs in education were among the participants of the Congress.

The plenary sessions, commission meetings, and seminars of practical education were devoted to analysis of national, regional, and international achievements and experience in introducing and using NITs in education systems. New developments in the sphere of NITs and their use in education systems were examined; international, regional and national policies in the use of NITs in the education sphere were discussed, and recommendations for international cooperation were given. Success of the Moscow Congress helped to reach the agreement between the UNESCO and Russia on joint work in organization and development of two important institutions - the World Technological University and the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education.

The work of the Congress was conducted under the program and along the lines suggested by the International Program Committee (IPC) and the Russian Organizing Committee (ROC).

Each day of the Congress work started with a plenary session at which the invited lecturer made the main report on the predetermined theme. This main report was followed by other reports in three Commissions where the following basic themes were discussed:

COMMISSION I: Trends and experiences in the introduction and application of ICTs in education systems;
COMMISSION II: Latest developments in ICTs in education;
COMMISSION III: Cooperation for the use ICTs in education.

Outstanding scientists - experts in education and informatics - were chosen by the UNESCO as the Chiefs of Commissions: Director of Higher School of Foreign Languages Katerina Martcheva (Bulgaria); President of the French National Commission on Intergovernment Programs on Informatics Pierre Mathelot (France); Coordinator of the UNDP/UNESCO project, representative of the Computerized Information Systems Co., Dr. Mohamed Noor Burhan (Syria). Prominent scientists and specialists from many countries were invited to participate in discussions.

The following topics were discussed at the Commission meetings:

POLICY: Development of national plans, strategies for changes on the level of educational institutions, strategies for developing perspective plans and programs;
TECHNOLOGIES: Informatics, computerized education, and “traditional” education technologies, multimedia and telematics;
TEACHERS: Modern practice in using new technologies, training and improvement of professional skill of teachers, their new role in education;
STUDENTS: Educational facilities, new role of students, new education methods in educational institutions;
SOCIAL, ECONOMIC, and CULTURAL ASPECTS of using new information technologies;
Life-long, open, and distance education;
Estimation of the influence of NITs;
UNESCO and international cooperation.

It should be mentioned that the priorities of the above-listed topics have been changed in the course of discussion of these topics: the problems of using NITs by students and teachers were put at the first positions; the second place was given to the development and application of education technologies; social, economical, and cultural aspects of the problem moved to the third place; and the fourth position was given to strategy in the sphere of education and new technologies. Of all through themes only those relating to international cooperation were left because the remaining questions could be effectively treated as part of other themes. As a result, in the Congress Recommendations the themes were arranged in the following order:

Theme 1: Students;
Theme 2: Teachers;
Theme 3: Technologies;
Theme 4: Social, Economic, and Cultural Issues;
Theme 5: Educational Policies;
Theme 6: International Cooperation.

This order was also followed in preparation of the Congress Proceedings for publication.

Along with plenary sessions and commission meetings, 12 seminars of practical education were held at the Congress. Their participants discussed the following topics:

Information super high way and education
(Part I: Perspectives and issues of development of worldwide and regional unified information systems for education; Part II: From information literacy toward information culture);

Psychological and pedagogical effects and medical implications of using modern information and communication technologies;

Program environment: perspectives of active use;

Knowledge and experience transfer with the use of information and telecommunication technologies;

National policies in the sphere of technological transfer;

Individual distance education;

Analysis of UNESCO/IFIP (International Federation for Information Processing) documents published in 1994-1995
(Part I: Informatics for secondary education; Part II: Module educational program on informatics);

Logics, informatics, and education;

Information technologies and humanitarian education;

Development of primary and secondary education with the use of modern information technologies and distance education methods;

Medicine: new approach to gaining and improving knowledge;

Formation of integrated worldwide database systems and knowledge on planets of the Solar system and their use in research works and education.

The chiefs of seminars were well-known scientists, teachers, and organizers of education. Among them were: David Walker (Great Britain), adviser; Peter Waker (South Africa), adviser in the Interware Co.; Alain Meyer (France), Director of the Teleeducation Center of the National Conservatorium of Arts and Skill; Tom van Weert (the Netherlands), Director of the School of Informatics at the Mathematics and Informatics Department of the University of Nijmegen; Harald Sch?tz (Germany), researcher in the Deutsche Welle Internet Co.; K.K. Kolin (Russia), First Vice-Director on Science in the Institute of Informatics, RAS; Yu.N. Afanasiev (Russia), Rector of the Russian State University of Humanities; A.L. Semenov (Russia), Vice-Chairman of the Moscow Education Department, Head of the Moscow Institute for Improvement of Professional Skill of Education Specialists; N.N. Evtikhiev (Russia), Rector of the Moscow Staten Institute of Radio Engineering, Electronics and Automation; Yu.I. Ivlev (Russia), Head of the Logic Department of the Philosophical Faculty of the Moscow State University.

The directions of work of the Moscow Congress and topics listed above show how extensive and diverse was the spectrum of problems examined at the Congress, while the names of the Commission and Seminar Chiefs and participants of discussions indicate its high scientific, political and organizational level.

In parallel to the Congress, the International Exhibition - Fair was organized where the most recent exhibits in the area of new information technologies were shown: training systems, education and methodical complexes, multimedia technologies, programs and courses for distant education, telecommunication facilities and technologies of global computer networks, information filling of servers, etc. 80 educational organizations and 24 firms, including leading computer companies such as IBM, Apple, Novell, Oracle, Informix, took part in the exhibition. It demonstrated the efficiency of using NITs in education and high rate of NIT development in Russian institutes of higher education.

The 2nd International Conference on Distance Education (under the title “Open and Distance Education - Strategy of Development” was confined to the Moscow UNESCO Congress. It was organized by the International Education Association and the International Council on Distance Education and supported by the Higher Education State Committee and the Russian Ministry of Science and Technoly Policy. The main objective was to discuss the role of distant education in modern society and the main trends in its development.

The time of the Congress work coincided with the 50-year anniversary of manufacturing the first computer. The international symposium “50 years of information era” held simultaneously with the Moscow Congress was devoted to this remarkable event. This symposium was organized by the Pennsylvania university (the USA), The International Trustee Foundation of the Tsiolkovskii State University of Aviation Technology, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the State Committee for Higher Education, and the Information Policy Committee with the President of the Russian Federation. Participants of this symposium discussed a 50-year history of informatization and the use of information systems in education, industry, aerospace technology, and in the life of various countries.

All above-listed undertakings allowed participants of the Congress, in spite of rather dense schedule, to become acquainted with latest achievements of various countries, including Russia, in the fields to which the Congress was devoted -education and informatics in their interplay.

A great many documents, reports, communications, abstracts, and other materials worked out and obtained as a result of the Congress work are of prime importance for the world community. It was recognized necessary to issue these materials as a series of the Congress Proceedings.

The Russian Organizing Committee, in accord with the UNESCO Secretariat, entrusted analysis, selection, and preparation of the Congress materials for publication to the International Center of Systems Analysis of Higher Education and Science Problems (the UNESCO associated center), the head organization on the Russian side, which provided preparation and work of the Moscow Congress. The result of the Congress work will be the volumes of the Congress proceedings prepared in the three official Congress languages - English, French, and Russian. These volumes include the following materials:

Volume I. General Documents of the Congress;

Volume II. National Reports;

Volume III. Reports and Speeches;

Volume IV. Reports’ Theses .

The arrangement of materials in these volumes is complied with the basic topics of the Congress mentioned above.

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