From April 27th to May 2nd 2020, the “Online Education in the COVID-19 Response and Beyond & Global University Online Teaching and Learning Webinar Series” was held at Tsinghua University. The webinar series was guided by the Office of Lifelong Education Administration of Tsinghua University and the Office of International Cooperation and Exchange of Tsinghua University, and was co-organized and supported by the International Centre for Engineering Education under the auspices of UNESCO (ICEE), the Online Teaching Guidance Expert Group of Tsinghua University, the Online Teaching Quality Assurance Expert Group of Tsinghua University, the School of Public Policy & Management of Tsinghua University, the Institute for Sustainable Development Goals of Tsinghua University, and XuetangX. With “online education” at its core, the webinar series covered four topics, namely, “Showcasing Online Course Designs”, “Assuring Online Education Quality in the COVID-19 Period”, “Maximizing the Benefits of ICT in Education”, and “Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 and Universities around the Globe: Looking Past and Looking Beyond COVID-19”.
Webinar 1 on “Showcasing Online Course Designs” was held on April 27th. Yuan Si, Vice Chairperson of the Tsinghua University Council and Executive Director of ICEE addressed the webinar. He pointed out that the world’s higher education is facing unprecedented challenges as numerous classes are moved from campus to cyberspace. Universities around the world need more conversations and collaboration than ever before. The webinar series will help universities exchange experiences, share best practices and inspire further actions in online teaching. The pandemic will eventually be over. However, the development of the world’s higher education will inevitably be affected. Yuan Si expressed his wish to integrate technology into education through shared effort in order to innovate the ecosystem of higher education and to create a better future for mankind.
Dr. Michael J. Parker, Associate Dean for Online Learning, Faculty Director of HMX at Harvard Medical School, introduced Harvard Medical School’s Online Learning for Foundational Medical Science. Prof. Vian Ahmed from the Department of Industrial Engineering, American University of Sharjah, offered a case study of a capstone course in engineering systems management. Representatives from eight universities including the Stevens Institute of Technology, Tsinghua University, McMaster University, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Sichuan University, and the University of Toronto engaged in meaningful discussions concerning the online curriculum design experience of foreign and domestic universities, as well as challenges and solutions for online curricula during the pandemic. Prof. Yu Xinjie, Head of the Online Teaching Guidance Expert Group and Professor of the Department of Electrical Engineering, gave the concluding remarks at the webinar. He stated that the speakers all emphasized “interaction”, that is, teachers and students should cooperate with each other, and learn through synchronous and asynchronous means with a combination of different online tools.
Webinar 2 on “Assuring Online Education Quality in the COVID-19 Period” was held on April 28th. Yang Bin, Vice President and Provost of Tsinghua University, addressed the webinar. He reviewed the online teaching at Tsinghua University since the outbreak of COVID-19, introduced the efforts that the university has made to assure online teaching quality, and shared the main content of the newly published report Evaluation and Implications of Tsinghua University's Emergency Online Education. He also emphasized the importance of communication and cooperation in online teaching at universities worldwide and expressed his wish that this webinar would add to the practical experience of assuring online teaching quality and would promote the development of the corresponding system. Prof. Doune Macdonald, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland, shared “Rapid Transformation and Supporting Quality Learning: How UQ has Leveraged People, Platforms, Policy and Practices in Response to COVID-19”. Dr. Caroline Levander, Vice President of Global & Digital Strategy from Rice University, introduced good practices on ensuring quality in online education. Representatives from eight universities including Tsinghua University, McMaster University, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Russia National Research University Higher School of Economics, the University of Macau and Peking University shared experiences on ensuring online teaching quality. Shi Jinghuan, Professor of Institute of Education at Tsinghua University, and Head of Global Research Center for the Assessment of College and Student Development of Tsinghua University gave concluding remarks. She believed this event to be an illuminating discussion on the challenges and future prospects of the assessment of online education, and she hoped to take it as an opportunity to further collaborate with universities across the globe, to share experiences and to further develop the system of assuring online education quality.
Webinar 3 on “Maximizing the Benefits of ICT in Education” was held on April 30th. Yang Bin pointed out in his opening address that the outbreak of COVID-19 promoted the full integration of ICT into teaching and learning and has changed the traditional way of giving and taking classes. Colleges and universities are undergoing a rapid system-wide transformation from the traditional teaching model to the online education model, a process that is compelling and transitional, but also concerned with the reputation and order of the university, affecting the physical and mental state of teachers and students. In this critical period, it is essential for universities around the world to strengthen solidarity, share experiences and overcome difficulties together. He encouraged all colleagues to actively share their valuable experience in online teaching and learning, as well as the problems and challenges they face in the process, so as to explore the new direction of education and teaching reform and make due contribution to the development of higher education in the world. He also hoped to continue strengthening the communication among universities and colleges in the future, to share experience, to discuss countermeasures, and to strengthen in-depth dialogue and cooperation in the field of online education resources, technology and research. Miao Fengchun, Head of the Institute for Information Technologies in Education at UNESCO, gave a keynote presentation entitled “Distance Learning Strategies: What Do We Know about Effectiveness?”. Klara Jelinkova, Vice-President of Rice University, presented on “How ICT enabled a rapid pivot to online at Rice University”. Representatives from nine universities and institutions, including Tsinghua University, the University of Buenos Aires, Politecnico di Milano, edX, ThaiMOOC, Xuetang X and others shared ideas on how technology can better serve educational innovation.
Webinar 4 on “Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 and Universities around the Globe: Looking Past and Looking Beyond COVID-19 “was successfully held on May 2nd. Yang Bin pointed out in his speech that the impact of COVID-19 and its societal disruption is enormous. There has never been a more urgent time to reinforce our cooperation and re-double efforts that support global governance and sustainable development. We should look at the bigger picture of higher education within the context of the SDG framework, specifically SDG 4 – quality education for all. Higher education plays a critical and unique role in addressing SDG4 and, even beyond, in tackling global challenges. Ensuring equal access and maintaining quality education for universities under global crises such as COVID-19 needs innovation and cooperation from various stakeholders. During recent years, Tsinghua has implemented a global strategy to promote international cooperation and strengthen engagement with the global governance framework. He hoped that this webinar will give rise to fruitful exchanges and guide us toward well-targeted and concrete actions.
Zhan Tao, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE); Robert Parua, Education Programme Specialist of the UNESCO Beijing Office; Yun-Mook Lim, former Dean of University College of Yonsei University, Professor of School of Civil and Environmental Engineering of Yonsei University; Ngaire Woods, Dean and Professor of the Blavatnik School of Government of Oxford University; Xue Lan, Dean of Schwarzman College of Tsinghua University, Co-Director of TUSDG, and Professor of School of Public Policy and Management (SPPM) of Tsinghua University; and Zhu Xufeng, Associate Dean and Professor of SPPM of Tsinghua University, andExecutive Director of TUSDG, jointly participated in the webinar. Delegates shared and exchanged views on the impact of the epidemic on the higher education system, and the opportunities and challenges for innovation under the epidemic, as well as the acceleration of global cooperation in higher education in the next decade.
Thirty-three experts from universities and international organizations around the world gave speeches. Schwarzman Scholar Enoch Wong chaired and moderated the four events. A total of 56,000 representatives from domestic and international faculties and departments watched the live sharing for around ten hours through the international version of XuetangX and the Rain Classroom.
(From the Office of Lifelong Education Administration)