UNESCO IITE launched the webinar series “Harnessing Technology to Transform Education”

The UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (UNESCO IITE) jointly with its partners launched the webinar series “Harnessing Technology to Transform Education” aimed to strengthen global and regional partnerships towards the innovative and ethical use of digital technologies in education for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4).

On 21 March 2023, the first webinar “Applying Benchmarking for Better Performance of Open Universities” was held in partnership with Shanghai Open University (SOU) within the joint project “Promoting ICT Capacity Building and Open Education in the Era of AI and Digital Technologies”. The webinar was intended to foster a discussion on how open universities can benefit from benchmarking with the goal of improving their performance.

Opening the webinar, Mr. Tao Zhan, Director of UNESCO IITE, welcomed the participants and emphasized the importance of global and regional partnerships in driving digital transformation of education:

The goal of the webinar series “Harnessing Technology to Transform Education” is to bring together our partners from different regions of the world in order to exchange new ideas, practices and outcomes of research projects in the field of digital transformation of education, as well as to encourage greater collaboration and discussion.

Mr. Tao Zhan, Director of UNESCO IITE

Mr. Junjiang Lou, Executive Vice-chair of SOU Council, extended his gratitude to the webinar participants and reaffirmed the critical role of open universities in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development:

Open universities contribute significantly to the achievement of the targets of SDG 4. When facing the challenges caused by globalization, demographic changes and rapid pace of technological development, open universities, despite their differences, share the common identity and have a unique role to play in meeting new demands for lifelong learning and providing opportunities for high-quality, inclusive and flexible education.

Mr. Junjiang Lou, Executive Vice-chair of SOU Council

In his video message, Dr. Sanjaya Mishra, Director of Education at the Commonwealth of Learning, highlighted the timeliness of the UNESCO IITE – SOU project and the relevance of developing benchmarking guidelines for open universities.

The keynote speaker Mr. Neil Butcher, Director at Neil Butcher & Associates presented the draft document “Benchmarking for Open Universities: Guidelines and Good Practices” developed on the initiative of UNESCO IITE and SOU. He addressed the critical role of open universities in expanding access to education, considered the relationship between quality assurance and benchmarking, outlined the benchmarking tools and dimensions of practice, as well as provided examples of good practices by open universities based on case studies.

The second part of the webinar was dedicated to an open discussion. The experts and representatives of open universities from different countries worldwide, including Botswana, China, Gambia, Indonesia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, Vietnam and Zimbabwe, shared their comments on the presented draft document and contributed to its further improvement.

The recording of the meeting is available at the Youtube channel of UNESCO IITE.