The session was moderated by Dr Hadi Shahriar Shahhoseini (Vice Chancellor for International Affairs, Iran University of Science and Technology). He shared that the rapid growth of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has considerably affected science and technology. He defined e-science as the use of ICT in science development to enable local and remote communication. For universities, technology will change the learning process. He highlighted international partnerships as an important aspect of collaborative networks for universities.
Dr Eun-Ju Kim (Chief, Innovation and Partnership Department, International Telecommunication Union, ITU) highlighted the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Action Line 7, adding that ITU has a role in supporting academia in knowledge production and training. She added that for ITU to achieve the objective, research and innovation were important. She noted that academia has a unique position as a driver of innovation to initiate platforms. In terms of the Internet of Things (IoT), smart and green ICTs, she mentioned that ITU is developing smart cities Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to help developing countries to develop smart villages. She gave examples of Dubai, Singapore and Moscow that are already experimenting with these KPIs.
Mr Martin Rademacher (Head of Project, Hochschulrektorenkonferenz, Hochschulforum Digitalisierung/Member, German Rectors' Conference, HRK) stated that digitalisation is described as a disruptive force and has changed the way we live, communicate, travel, access media and gather information. He referred to some traditional business models that are endangered or have changed radically because of technology, for example, the recording industry was affected by music streaming, iTunes and Spotify, taxis by Uber, and hotels by Airbnb. For universities, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) revolutionised education because big universities were offering courses for free. He concluded that universities should become a disruptive force.
Dr Jean-Henry Morin (Associate Professor, University of Geneva, Switzerland) shared that in the past, the most important resources to a student were professors and libraries, though the Internet had introduced easier access to information. In terms of digital literacy, Morin asked why creativity, critical thinking and effective communication are taught at the university and not starting at elementary school. He added that digital literacy represents the skillsets that the current education system must train as basic knowledge. He shared an example of design thinking classes that he started teaching at the University of Geneva in 2008. ’Creativity is a muscle, we all have it, we just don’t all go to the same gym’, he concluded.
Dr Alireza Yari (Head of the Research Faculty, ICT Research Institute, Iran) defined innovation as the actual implementation of new ideas of technologies to create new value in fundamentally different ways than in the past. At the national level, Yari mentioned that innovation systems included the educational system, research centres, and productive sectors like firms, farms and public enterprises. Highlighting countries that have a good innovation level like South Korea, Germany and Japan, he stated that they invested in research plans, evaluated performance, promoted networking and provided good governance. He added that his team had suggested a vision to make Iran one of the most innovative countries in the field of ICT by encouraging science and improving the network between science, economy and society, management and providing human resources.
Dr Hadi Shahriar Shahhoseini (Vice Chancellor for International Affairs, Iran University of Science and Technology) shared that advances in education technology like e-learning, flipped classrooms and blended learning are not enough to guarantee academic success. He gave an example of Iran where college-bound students have to compete for limited places at universities. He shared that over 20% of the students use supplementation education like private tutorship and electronic materials which are only available to high-income families, leaving low-income families to lose places at the university, despite government investment into public education. She shared about a collaborative platform powered by augmented reality and a wiki space where students with no coding knowledge can share educational resources.
By Sarah Kiden