Blaze the Trail for New Development of Online Education with a More Open Attitude

— Speech at Main Meeting of Global MOOC and Online Education Conference 2021

QIU Yong. Founding Chair of Board of Global MOOC and Online Education Alliance; President of Tsinghua University 

Today we witness the opening of the Global MOOC and Online Education Conference 2021, showing our firm belief in the value of education which must not be interrupted in any way. On behalf of the Global MOOC and Online Education Alliance and Tsinghua University, I would like to extend my warm welcome and heartfelt thanks to all guests from international organizations, governments, universities and online education institutions who are with us today.

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2020 was a watershed in human history. The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to higher education globally. On February 3, 2020, more than 57,000 teachers and students of Tsinghua University attended a lesson online together. We keep our word to the whole society that educating people is our undeniable responsibility. Tsinghua uses information technology to promote online teaching on all sides. On February 17, Online Classroom was fully launched based on the teaching calendar. On March 27, as the President of the Asian Universities Alliance, Tsinghua hosted a special meeting on fighting COVID-19 among universities online, attended by leaders from 14 universities around the world. On April 24, Tsinghua University and UNESCO jointly held a Special Dialogue for global universities and published Tsinghua University’s Research Report on Online Education during COVID-19 Pandemic. On July 23, Tsinghua University launched “Climate Change Global Lecture” as part of its Global Summer School 2020 for teachers and students around the world, where His Excellency Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, was invited to deliver his first public speech to teachers and students worldwide since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the fall semester of 2020, as the prevention and control of pandemic has become a regular practice, Tsinghua has actively promoted online and offline hybrid teaching. The deep integration of online and offline education and learning has become a new normal in education. From December 9th to 11th, 2020, Tsinghua University and the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE) jointly hosted the first Global MOOC Conference and released the Beijing Declaration on MOOC Development. Thanks to the effort of 17 universities and 3 online education institutions around the world, the Global MOOC Alliance was formally established. On December 2, 2021, just a week ago, a board meeting of the Global MOOC Alliance was convened, where all members agreed to rename the Alliance “Global MOOC and Online Education Alliance.” In the future, the Alliance will keep on promoting innovation in concepts, models and technologies of education, and developing more open, more integrated, and more resilient universities.

The theme of today’s conference is “Together for a Shared Future – Leading Higher Education Innovation in the New Digital Era.” At present, a new wave of technological revolution and industrial transformation is advancing by leaps and bounds and information technology has exerted a profound impact on higher education. Knowledge transfer and acquisition, educational concepts and models have all undergone tremendous changes. Facing this global change, universities should encourage higher education institutions to share educational resources, innovative models and concepts, and advanced information technology to jointly promote education of higher quality and inclusivity.

Universities should share quality educational resources and face global challenges with a more open attitude. Universities are the beacon of human civilization, shoulder the important responsibility of inheriting knowledge and culture, and play an important and unique role on major issues affecting the destiny of mankind. We must join hands and adopt online and hybrid education for quality higher education resources as public products, promote educational equity, facilitate knowledge dissemination and consensus in carbon neutrality, climate change, and public health, and endeavor to tackle global challenges.

Universities should strengthen international exchanges and cooperation, and promote higher education innovation with a more open attitude. Higher education institutions should continue to empower teachers and students and promote diversified international cooperation in teaching. We should expand transnational and inter-university cooperation in curriculum and teaching based on hybrid education, and build a platform for students to learn and grow in a multicultural environment. We must seize the opportunity of the era of the Internet that breaks the barrier of distance, and promote online and offline integration, cross-border integration, interdisciplinary integration, and the integration of academia and industry.

Universities should promote the application of information technology and lead the digital transformation of higher education with a more open attitude. We should advance the iterative upgrade of information technology, develop innovative educational forms, scenes and models, vigorously promote the development and application of online teaching technology, and facilitate quality innovation in technology, models, mechanisms, and educational scenes, to make higher education more open, inclusive, and reciprocal.

“Boundless is the ocean where we sail with the wind,” goes an ancient Chinese poem. We are about to usher in a brand new year of 2022 together, and the Global MOOC and Online Education Alliance has also opened up new aspects after being renamed. Let us join hands, forge ahead abreast, face the future together, and blaze the trail for innovative development of online education in the digital age.

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