The Global MOOC and Online Education Conference 2021 was successfully held online from December 6 to December 9. The Conference was jointly hosted by the Global MOOC and Online Education Alliance and the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE), on the theme “Together for a Shared Future-Leading Higher Education Innovation in the New Digital Era.” 

(Watch the replay of the main meeting in English and in Chinese)

Welcoming remarks

Tsinghua University President Qiu Yong, also founding Board Chair of Global MOOC and Online Education Alliance, delivered welcoming remarks at the Main Meeting of the Conference: “Blaze the Trail for New Development of Online Education with a More Open Attitude” (The text of Qiu’s full speech can be viewed here)

He said that the Global MOOC and Online Education Conference 2021 showcased the Alliance’s firm belief in the value of education which must not be interrupted in any way, and stressed that the Alliance would keep on promoting innovation in concepts, models and technologies of education, and developing more open, integrated, and resilient universities.

“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,” he said.

“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,” he added.

President Qiu also urged higher education institutions to share educational resources, innovative models and concepts, and advanced information technology to jointly promote education of higher quality and inclusivity.

“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,” he added.

President Qiu also encouraged universities to 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.

He underscored the importance of making higher education more open, inclusive and reciprocal, and suggested universities to promote the application of information technology and lead the digital transformation of higher education with a more open attitude.

“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,” he said, concluding his remarks.

Alliance renamed as “Global MOOC and Online Education Alliance”

new logo (tentative)

The Global MOOC Alliance, recently renamed as “Global MOOC and Online Education Alliance”, was officially launched last year at the 2020 Global MOOC Conference, jointly hosted by Tsinghua University and the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (UNESCO IITE). 

The Alliance serves as a leading platform to build a diverse community of universities and online education platforms from all over the world, facilitating international cooperation and exchanges in educational technologies and innovation to improve the quality of global MOOC and online education. 

Keynote speeches

First row (from L to R): Wu Yan, Ochirbat Baatar, Gilford Hapanyengwi;
Second row (from L to R): Paul Krause, Simon Marginson, Atta-ur-Rehman

Following President Qiu’s welcoming remarks, Wu Yan, Director of the Higher Education Department of the Ministry of Education of China, delivered a keynote speech.  He stated that China has been advancing the development of MOOC by building MOOC platforms and upgrading their application and learning and management features. Wu shared the practices and experiences in MOOC and online teaching of Chinese universities, such as Tsinghua University, Peking University, Zhejiang University, Xidian University, and Kashgar University. He said that China’s higher education was ready to work with partners from all over the world to open up new prospects in digital education featuring enhanced inclusivity, quality, fairness and efficiency and to promote learning revolution in higher education. 

Ochirbat Baatar, President of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology, said that the Conference played a crucial role in promoting international collaboration in resource mobilization to address the current challenges faced by higher education institutions while addressing the Conference as a keynote speaker. 

Kuzvinetsa Peter Dzvimbo, CEO of the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (ZIMCHE) and Gilford Hapanyengwi, ICT Director of ZIMCHE, presented a case study of the state of digital learning and digital resources at Zimbabwe Universities during their keynote speech. They highlighted that there was a need of online teaching and learning and online examinations guidelines, as well as training for faculty members, to further streamline online education in Zimbabwe.  

In his keynote speech Paul Krause, Vice Provost of Cornell University and Executive Director of eCornell, shared his university’s practices in online education and highlighted the importance of promoting innovative teaching methods to create a more engaging online learning experience. He said Cornell University was looking forward to deepening collaboration with higher education intuitions around the world to explore new ways to make online education more effective.

Simon Marginson, Professor of Higher Education at the University of Oxford and Director of the Centre for Global Higher Education, said that the globalization of higher education required more active and fair participation of all partners, bringing together the views and practices of all parties, and jointly promoting a more equitable development of higher education. He also praised Tsinghua University for its contributions to online education in China. 

Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman, Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Science and Technology, Pakistan and Foreign Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that countries should develop more open and quality higher education to meet the needs of national development, and the governments of developing countries should implement relevant policies to support the development of online education. 

Summary presentation by sub-forums’ co-chairs

Likewise, the co-chairs of the seven sub-forums that took place as part of the Conference over the last two days shared key outcomes of the discussions at the Conference. 

First row (from L to R): Enoch Wong (moderator), LI Ming (Director, UNESCO-ICHEI),
Michael K. Hui (Vice-Rector, University of Macau), Giuliano Noci (Vice-Rector, Politecnico di Milano);
Second row (from L to R): Christopher Tremewan (Secretary-General, APRU), Thapanee Thammetar (Director, Thai MOOC),
Howell Williams (Chief Development Officer, Keypath Education), YANG Bin (Vice President & Provost, Tsinghua University)

Closing remarks

Zhan Tao, Director of UNESCO IITE

The Conference concluded with closing remarks from Zhan Tao, Director of UNESCO IITE. He pointed out the deep integration of information technology and education would represent a trend in the future, and that the form of online education and higher education would continue to change. He said universities, international organizations and other institutions around the world must seize opportunities and face challenges, accelerate the development of quality MOOCs and online educational resources, and achieve international cooperation in higher education featuring openness, inclusivity, reciprocity and shared benefits.

The four-day conference attracted speakers from more than 100 international organizations, governments, universities and online education institutions at home and abroad. They shared policies and practices in driving the innovation required in the new global digital era for the higher education sector, as well as examined collaborative ideas and frameworks to build more open, integrative and resilient universities.

The replay of the main meeting can be viewed in English and in Chinese on XuetangX.

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