On August 20, 2020 (GMT+8), Joint Project on Rethinking and Redesigning National Smart Education Strategy, launched by UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (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), was officially released at the opening ceremony of 2020 Global Smart Education Conference. The Secretariat of this joint project is located at Smart Learning Institute of Beijing Normal University (SLIBNU) for providing the necessary support and coordinating among the project.
Due to the huge blow of COVID-19 outbreak to the global education, countries across the globe have successively carried out massive online learning, facing unprecedented challenges in network conditions, teachers’ capacity of utilizing information technology, students’ ability of self-regulated learning, learning resources, etc. During the post-COVID-19 period, UNESCO has launched the “Futures of Education” Initiative, attempting to reimagine how education and knowledge can shape the future of humanity in a world of increasing complexity, uncertainty and precarity. The Joint Project on Rethinking and Redesigning National Smart Education Strategy, collaboratively initiated by five organizations (UNESCO IITE, COL, ISTE, HSE, BNU), is aimed at identifying the major issues and trends of the futures of education and explore the solutions of infusing ICT into education, so as to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Prof` Ronghuai Huang, Co-Dean of the Smart Learning Institute of Beijing Normal University (SLIBNU) briefed the background, objectives and five initiators of the project. He mentioned that the project would last for five years or longer. For the first two-year stage, the following five initial sub-projects are proposed
1) Review of policies on ICT in education for futures of education. It mainly focuses on the review of national policies for ICT in education so as to explore the basic routes of infusing ICT in education.
2) Technology framework for smart learning and education. It aims to propose a technology framework for smart learning and education to provide a template for formulating future ICT in education policies.
3) Indicators of smart education at country level (for assessing and monitoring). It will identify indicators for monitoring the status of smart education at country level based on the technology framework.
4) National public services for smart learning. It will explore the function, positioning, structure, working mechanism and data center construction guidelines of national public services for smart learning.
5) Standards and technique of smart campus. It aims to provide recommendations on the technical architecture of smart campus and solutions for smart campus construction.
Each sub-project will be led by at least two organizations with collaborative research with more partners and the countries with typical situations will be chosen for case analysis. Prof. Huang appealed for the participation of other relevant units, research institutes and academic organizations as collaborative partners.
Prof. Ronghuai Huang, Co-Dean of SLIBNU
As the Secretariat of the project, SLIBNU has been engaged in research on smart education and published a number of papers and books on smart education. During COVID-19 outbreak, SLIBNU also worked with UNESCO IITE and other international institutions in finalizing and releasing a series of handbooks which have been translated into diverse languages and promoted around the world, covering “handbook on facilitating flexible learning”, “guidance on active learning at home”, “guidance on flexible learning”, “guidance on open educational practices”, “guidance on personal data and privacy protection”, etc. Meanwhile, SLIBNU held quite a few international conferences such as US-China Smart Education Conference in search of the latest research outcomes and development trends of smart education. It is expected that smart education will play a vital role in the society with uncertainties, in the multipolar world and in the age of intelligence.
At the release conference, Ms. Asha S. Kanwar, President and CEO of COL, expressed her delight as a co-initiator. She pointed out that massive online learning, application of AI and block chain as well as access to high-speed broadband will give birth to significant reform of education under the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. Kanwar put forward that:
First, joyful learning experience can help store knowledge in long-term memory; Second, technical innovation and improvement of instructional methods can contribute to better teaching effects; Third, effective and readily available educational resources should be provided for learning; Fourth, smart education will not only facilitate individual growth but also promote the development of the world; Fifth, smart education should accord with social ethics and present solutions to issues of privacy protection, cyber security and equity.
She extended her hope that the project could contribute to achieving equitable and inclusive quality education.
Ms. Asha S. Kanwar, President and CEO of COL
Mr. Joseph South, Chief Learning Officer at ISTE, expressed that the project coincided with the vision of ISTE to accelerate educational innovation through science and technology. As a co-initiator of the Joint Project on Rethinking and Redesigning National Smart Education Strategy, ISTE would like to endeavor to promote inclusive and equitable education and social development.
Mr. Joseph South, Chief Learning Officer at ISTE
Mr. Isak Froumin, Head of the Institute of Education, HSE also expressed his honor to be a co-initiator of the project and to cooperate with other excellent organizations to push forward the research on smart education. He mentioned that this project would provide new ideas and support for schools and education under transformation by sharing his opinions on educational development fostered by smart education and showing his expectations on this project.
Mr. Isak Froumin, Head of the Institute of Education, HSE
Mr. Tao Zhan, Director of UNESCO IITE, shared his expectation on the development and research projects of the futures of education. He believed that digitalization and intelligence would inject new vigor into educational development and the project would strongly facilitate the realization of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4) and Education 2030 proposed by UNESCO.
Mr. Tao Zhan, Director of UNESCO IITE
The successful launch of the Joint Project on Rethinking and Redesigning National Smart Education Strategy will further advance the research and development of smart education worldwide and open a new chapter for the development of global smart education.
Attachment: Introduction of the five Initiators and Secretariat of the Joint Project on Rethinking and Redesigning National Smart Education Strategy
UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (UNESCO IITE) was established by the General Conference of UNESCO at its 29th session (November 1997) and is located in Moscow, Russian Federation. IITE is the only UNESCO category 1 Institute that holds a global mandate for ICT in education.
The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is an intergovernmental organization founded by the Commonwealth Heads of Government of the United Kingdom in 1987. It is a 52-country volunteer association that promotes the development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies.
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is a promoter of global educational technology. Since its founding in 1979, it has been committed to empowering education through technology. As a non-profit organization, ISTE has served more than 100,000 people in education worldwide. In 2019, ISTE acquired Edsurge, a mainstream educational media.
National Research University - Higher School of Economics (HSE) is a leader in Russian education and one of the preeminent universities of economic and social science in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Having rapidly grown into a well-renowned research university over the two decades, HSE University sets itself apart with its international presence and cooperation.
Beijing Normal University (BNU) is a key university directly under the Ministry of Education. It grew out of the Education Department of Imperial University of Peking established in 1902, which initiated teacher training in China’s higher education. BNU is now a renowned university with its main characteristics of basic disciplines in teacher education, educational science as well as sciences and humanities.
Smart Learning Institute (SLI) of BNU is affiliated to BNU, and also a joint venture between BNU and Elernity. It is a comprehensive experimental platform involving scientific research, technology development and instructional teaching. SLI focuses on finding learning patterns powered by ICT, creating smart learning environments and platforms for lifelong learning, as well as supporting diversified, personalized and differential learning needs for digital learners.
It is reported that 2020 Global Smart Education Conference was hosted by Beijing Normal University and organized by Smart Learning Institute of Beijing Normal University (SLIBNU), China Institute of Education and Social Development (CIESD), Collaborative Innovation Center of Assessment for Basic Education Quality, National Engineering Laboratory for Cyberlearning and Intelligent Technology (CITlab). The conference was held on site together with online live streaming, attracting many audiences worldwide.