Tsinghua University News

The 2019 Asian Universities Alliance (AUA) Online Education Conference held at Tsinghua

The 2019 Asian Universities Alliance (AUA) Online Education Conference held at Tsinghua

The 2019 Asian Universities Alliance (AUA) Online Education Conference was held at Tsinghua University from the 5th to 6th of July. More than 20 delegates from Chulalongkorn University, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, National University of Singapore, Nazarbayev University, United Arab Emirates University, University of Indonesia, University of Colombo and University of Malaya attended the conference.

On July 5th, Professor Yang Bin, Vice President and Provost of Tsinghua University, welcomed all the representatives from AUA members to the meeting on behalf of Academician Qiu Yong, President of Tsinghua University and AUA President. Recalling the proposal made by Tsinghua University to host the AUA Online Education Conference at the 2018 AUA Executives Meeting, which took place in Indonesia on 15-16 November 2018, Professor Yang said that this conference has fulfilled the aims of the proposal, which wouldn’t have been possible without the full support of the universities present. Drawing on the importance of the rapid development of the internet and information technology, Yang Bin emphasized that as university education administrators and teachers, we need to fully recognize the advantages and challenges of technology, and deeply integrate technology within education and teaching to promote the reform and improvement of teaching methodologies. He encouraged the promotion of online education, highlighting that if teachers' initiatives and creativity are brought more into play, the teachers’ value will be enhanced and this will contribute to the integration of new technologies in education. Outlining the development of online education in Tsinghua University, Yang Bin recalled that when Tsinghua University launched the online education work in 2013, there was a determination to independently develop the University’s own online MOOC platform in order to continuously strengthen the utilization and analysis of big data pertaining to students' learning behavior, and to truly realize data-driven teaching and learning. In addition to serving the reform of in-school education and teaching, he said, Tsinghua's online course construction and application also promotes education equity and improves the quality of education. Drawing on the example of Qinghai University, located in western China, Yang Bin highlighted that Qinghai University made very good use of Tsinghua's online courses and achieved customized learning for its students in combination with its own characteristics. Bringing his address to a close, Yang Bin hoped that the delegates could make full use of this conference as an opportunity to have extensive exchanges and in-depth discussions, which could lay a solid foundation for the future cooperation among AUA members in online education.

Prof. Yu Shijie, Deputy Director of the Online Education Research Center of the Ministry of Education, and Director of Tsinghua University’s Online Education Office, delivered the first keynote speech on the development of online education at Tsinghua University. Sharing the development status and trend of online education at Tsinghua university, he mentioned that in 2013, Tsinghua University established an online education office and launched its online MOOC platform - xuetangX by releasing the first five MOOCs. So far, Tsinghua University has built more than 250 MOOCs with a wide range of courses, attracting about 11 million learners from more than 200 countries and regions. Prof. Yu described the impact of the platform, stating that many courses have received extensive attention in the world. In the process of MOOC construction and application, he said, the teaching capacity has been expanded, the teaching quality has been improved, and the comprehensive development of students has been promoted. He stated that through this process, teachers have also found growth in their desire to further pursue their careers in education. Yu said that in the future, Tsinghua’s online education will continue to strengthen cooperation with AUA under the guidance of China's "Belt and Road Initiative" and Tsinghua University's global strategy, jointly serving to improve the quality of higher education and technological innovation capacity in the Asian region.

Professor Sridahar Iyer of Indian Institute of Technology Bombay delivered his keynote speech on the topic “Online Education Practice at IITB”. He introduced India's 2009 national mission to promote the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in education, which invested US $1 billion to promote the development of more than 100 projects from over 20 institutions. He said that the school's IDP, which has been running for a decade, focuses on how technology can improve learners' thinking and how teachers can use it to improve teaching. Following this, he shared the current situation of online education platforms in India and the credit recognition of university to online courses.

Professor Ting Chuen Pong from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) gave a keynote speech on “Online Education Practice at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology”. He introduced the general situation of education and technology in the digital age, the MOOC construction, application and education innovation of HKUST and so on. Focusing on sharing the application experience of MOOCs from blended learning, experiential learning and fully online learning, he compared the teaching concept proposed by Confucius in ancient China with MOOCs to promote the concept of “making no social distinctions in teaching”. He emphasized that blended learning and experiential learning have achieved the effect of "teaching students in accordance with their aptitude".

Associate Professor Yang Fang from the Language Center and Associate Professor Ma Yuchun from the Department of Computer Science and Technology, both of Tsinghua University, respectively delivered workshops on “How to do Blended Learning”. By taking their own courses as examples, they demonstrated how to use “RainClassroom” as a way to design the whole learning process. They also demonstrated how to teach students in accordance with their aptitude by using the learning behavior data of students.

On the morning of July 6th, in the round table discussion, experts and scholars from various universities conducted group discussions on different topics. In the group discussion on "Policy and Implementation of MOOCs", Professor Lee Yew Kong of the University of Malaya introduced the MOOC policy, practical experience and achievements of the University of Malaya as well as the national MOOC strategy of Malaysia. Professor Aiman Khamitova from Nazarbayev University introduced the school's efforts to promote blended learning by strengthening the space construction for active learning. In the round-table discussion on “How to Enhance Student-Centered Teaching", Professor Khamitova also introduced the implementation process of training courses. During the round-table on “New Pedagogical Approaches with Information Technology”, the COO of xuetangX, Shuaiguo Wang introduced how the sophisticated education tool “RainClassroom” enhances the interaction between teachers and students, improves teaching efficiency and collects large data on students learning behavior. In the round-table discussion on “The Future Direction of University Education”, Dr. Gatot F. Hertono from Universitas Indonesia introduced the MOOC development in Indonesia, the current situation of Universitas Indonesia’s online education platforms, as well as the experience and achievement of the University’s Office for Learning Resources.

Secretariat of AUA and Associate Dean of Tsinghua University’s Office of International Cooperation and Exchange Prof. Zhang Chuanjie reinforced the mission of AUA to continue to build long term collaboration among all AUA members, and to deepen cooperation in the area of online education. Professor Kiruthika Ragupathi from the National University of Singapore said that the conference provided a great opportunity for delegates to share their practices, as well as their challenges, in the field of online education. She added that the conference laid a good foundation for the future cooperation. Professor Sahana Murthy from IIT Bombay stated that online education is playing an important role in promoting education equity and improving education quality. Professor Murthy added that this conference strengthened exploration and practice, and clarified the innovative and leading role of university. The delegates agreed that in the future, AUA members should explore the integration and innovation of IT and education, strengthen the course exchange between universities, innovate blended learning programs and have more cooperation on new education technology, to support the talent cultivation of Asian universities.

During the conference, the delegates had the opportunity to visit xuetangX and aixuetang online education platforms, as well as to listen to talks from experts of enterprises related to online education. Attendees increased their knowledge of the latest developments in Chinese online education and education innovation.

Source: Online Education Office