On August 18-20th, the 2022 Global Smart Education Conference took place in Beijing. It was dedicated to the topic of intelligent technology and digital transformation in education and gathered experts and scholars from the educational, academic, and business circles not only from China but also around the world. The conference was co-hosted by Beijing Normal University and UNESCO IITE.
China is currently actively promoting digital transformation and intelligent upgrade in education. This agenda goes in line with the global view that considerable attention should be paid to promoting and enhancing teachers’ digital literacy, especially in remote and rural areas; to incorporating intelligent technologies into education and teaching; and that AI, big data, virtual reality, and other technologies should be widely used in all stages of the educational process.
The GSE 2022 conference was aimed at promoting the systematic integration of science, technology and education and at building a new ecosystem of smart education. The main topics were blending intelligent technology development and education; teacher education and teaching innovation from the perspective of teachers; the learning crisis and the future of education from the perspective of students; the development of regional education, and rural education transformation. The conference was held online and offline and live-streamed on Metaverse. More than 4 million viewers watched the conference online on the first day, including almost 3 million views from the GSE official site and over 700,000 users attending it on Metaverse.
Distinguished speakers from Nigeria, Serbia, and Turkmenistan emphasized the importance of achieving SDG4 and noted their countries’ efforts in promoting the digital transformation of education, increasing investment in education, eliminating the digital divide, and the technological upgrade of the education systems of the countries.
UNESCO, in its turn, is committed to helping and supporting the planning and practice of member states in the field of AI and education, building a global education cooperation network, and ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all. Tao Zhan, Director of UNESCO IITE, pointed out that achieving this goal depends on the joint efforts of global partners. Mr. Zhan believes that China’s forward-looking plans and innovative practices present encouraging examples. UNESCO IITE and Beijing Normal University have long carried out close cooperation; in particular, since the outbreak of COVID-19, their joint exploration of smart education has received strong support and positive response from experts and scholars around the world.
Among the most important events of the conference was presentation of the results of the National Smart Education Strategy Joint Research Plan and launch of the Initiative for Global Smart Education Network (GSENet). It was prepared by UNESCO IITE, Commonwealth of Learning (COL), International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE), and Beijing Normal University (BNU). These institutions worked together to analyse the experience of smart education in various countries and explore the development strategy of smart education. The result has been a series of published research such as the National Smart Education Framework, the Global Smart Education Policy Analysis, the National Smart Education Evaluation Index, the National Public Service System for Smart Education, and the Smart Campus Design for Future Education.
Student Forum on Learning Crisis and Futures of Education
On August 19, UNESCO IITE representatives also took part in the “Student Forum on Learning Crisis and Futures of Education,” part of the GSE2022 Conference. Based on the actual situation of their countries and regions and combined with their own experiences, 15 university student representatives from China, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Serbia, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda, and Nigeria shared their understanding of the learning crisis and their expectations for the futures of education from the perspectives of learning environment reform, learning method innovation, rural student training, and practical implementation of inclusive education in their respective countries.
On behalf of UNESCO IITE, Tatiana Shutova, Programme Specialist, expressed a warm congratulation to Beijing Normal University’s 120th anniversary. She pointed out that UNESCO IITE and BNU had been cooperating in many projects and especially noted the recently concluded 5th Global Competition on Design for Future Education. Some of the unique projects and cases that were presented during the Competition have been included in the new ambitious project – E-Library For Teachers. Built by UNESCO IITE and NetDragon, E-Library For Teachers with its open educational resources (OER) aims to effectively solve the problems of teachers’ lack of professional knowledge and rigid teaching methods, help teachers master new technologies, improve their teaching ability, and provide effective solutions for education and teaching.
The GSE2022 conference was co-organized by the China Institute of Education and Social Development, Collaborative Innovation Centre of Assessment for Basic Education Quality, the National Engineering Laboratory for Cyberlearning and Intelligent Technology, as well as more than ten Chinese and foreign universities, research institutions, and international organizations. It was sponsored by NetDragon Huayu Education, Unisplendour Wisdom Education, H3C Group, Lenovo, iFlytek, etc.