Global Smart Education Conference 2023: Education Transformation and Data Governance

About the conference

The Global Smart Education Conference 2023 (GSE 2023), an annual event meticulously organized by Beijing Normal University (BNU) in collaboration with UNESCO IITE, unfolded from the 18th to the 20th of August 2023 in Beijing, China. This year, the conference assumed the official mantle of “Education Transformation and Data Governance.” The organizers managed to bring together 202 domestic attendees and 105 international experts hailing from 40 diverse countries, including notable dignitaries from Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Timor-Leste, and Serbia.

Distinguished representatives from globally renowned organizations, known for championing smart education such as UNESCO, ALECSO, COL, ISTE, SEAMEO, OECD, APEC, ITU, ASEAN, and AECT, graced the event as esteemed speakers and guests of honor. The conference hall witnessed the physical presence of over 1300 students, education experts, and industry representatives, with nearly 40% of these attendees being frontline educational practitioners. UNESCO IITE was represented by the Director of the Institute – Mr. Tao Zhan, Chief of the TPDN Unit – Ms. Natalia Amelina, and Programme Assistant for Education – Ms. Galina Udayadas.

Forum on Teacher Digital Competences

The conference comprised 16 forums covering a wide spectrum of topics such as generative AI, teacher digital competencies, data governance, lifelong learning, educational digitalization, design for future education, technology-supported evaluation, rural education transformation, and more. UNESCO IITE led the “Forum on Teacher Digital Competences and Innovative Talent Cultivation Model,” featuring experts and practitioners from across the globe. Ms. Natalia Amelina delivered an insightful presentation titled “Developing ICT Competencies of Teachers for Smart Education in the 21st Century,” which explored themes like technological innovation in education, the concept of smart education, the pandemic’s impact on education transformation, and the pivotal role of teachers and their ICT competencies in this paradigm shift.

6th Global Competition on Design for Future Education

Simultaneously, alongside GSE 2023, the Global Finals of the 6th Global Competition on Design for Future Education unfolded at BNU’s Changping Campus. Themes for the competition spanned Artificial Intelligence and Education, Metaverse and Education, Rural Education, Inclusive Education, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Psychology. A total of 111 participants representing various countries and universities formed 20 competing teams. Ultimately, 10 of these teams advanced to the final presentation round. Ms. Galina Udayadas from UNESCO IITE was among the judges who assessed and provided feedback on the projects during the roadshow on August 20, 2023. The winning projects addressed diverse educational needs, from dyslexic children to immersive art learning, showcasing innovative solutions.

GSENet: the international platform for collaboration and exchange

GSE 2023 also served as a robust platform to strengthen cooperation around the “Global Smart Education Network (GSENet),” a collaborative initiative involving UNESCO IITE, BNU, ALECSO, COL, ISTE, and SEAMEO. The aim of GSENet is to collectively tackle global learning crises and educational challenges, harnessing technology’s potential. The network seeks to create partnerships among researchers, practitioners, technology experts, and policymakers, reimagining and redesigning education systems at various levels. It aims to establish an equitable, inclusive, and high-quality smart education system. The conference provided an opportunity for partners to engage in formal and informal discussions, fostering close collaboration, resource exchange, idea sharing, and the organization of activities for educators worldwide.


In the Closing Ceremony, leaders from GSENet member institutions presented reports and policy frameworks produced during the joint project “Rethinking and Redesigning National Smart Education Strategy”, which was implemented from 2020-2022. Ethical considerations and responsible AI use were at the forefront of discussions, culminating in the definition of SMART education: sustainable, meaningful, accessible, resilient, and transformative education. These leaders pledged advocacy and policy support to ensure that smart education becomes a reality for a broader teaching and learning community.

The conference’s forward-looking spirit continued as leaders from COL and ALECSO, along with UNESCO IITE and BNU representatives, visited NetDragon Websoft company’s headquarters in Fuzhou, China. The focus was on exploring new EdTech hardware and software solutions and discussing their integration to support the education of differently-abled students, especially those with disabilities. Additionally, UNESCO IITE and NetDragon teams held productive meetings and brainstorming sessions to enhance the reach of the E-Library for teachers in the target countries and beyond.