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KAIST to host online forum on future of education in post-coronavirus era

June 17, 2020 - 18:22 By Ock Hyun-ju
From left, Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera CEO,Ben Nelson, Minerva Project Founder and CEO, Anthony Salcito, Microsoft Education Vice President, Bahram Bekhradnia, Higher Education Policy Institute Director and Kang Sang-wook, Future HR Policy Bureau director at Ministry of Science and ICT (KAIST)

An international online forum on the future of education amid the rise of distance learning in the post-coronavirus era will be held Wednesday, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology said Monday.

Organized by KAIST’s Global Strategy Institute, the forum will take place between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at a conference hall at KAIST’s main campus in Daejeon, to be livestreamed on the YouTube channels of the school and state-funded broadcaster Korea TV.

Some 15 global leaders in the education sector will be invited to give keynote speeches and take part in panel discussions on two topics -- innovating university education to nurture creativity and narrow the socioeconomic and digital divide caused by online learning.

The forum will start with opening remarks from KAIST President Shin Sung-chul and welcoming remarks from prominent figures in the education sector -- including Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera, and Higher Education Policy Institute Director Bahram Bekhradnia.

KAIST President Shin Sung-chul will stress the importance of online education and virtual university as “the most optimal tools to provide lifelong education” in the fast-changing, technology-centered society after the pandemic, according KAIST.

KAIST specially invited Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera, the first-generation online learning platform, to discuss an innovative online education model in the contactless era, it said. Coursera is a worldwide online learning platform founded in 2012 that partners with top universities and organizations to offer free and paid online courses, skills certifications and degrees.

On the topic of “digitization of higher education, coronavirus and afterwards,” Maggioncalda in his welcoming remark will look into how universities turned online for education and ways to strengthen digital innovation in high education, KAIST said.

In the first day’s sessions, the focus will be on innovating university education, with keynote speakers including Minerva Project Founder and CEO Ben Nelson, Microsoft Education Vice President Anthony Salcito and Times Higher Education Chief Knowledge Officer Phil Baty.

Nelson will offer his insights into how universities can increase accessibility and equity, what are internal and external factors affecting high education institutes’ decision-making processes and how learning experience could be improved in remote learning environment.

Baty will help take the direction of innovating education by releasing major points of the survey Times Higher Education conducted on 200 presidents of universities from around the world. The survey was on the future of higher education after the COVID-19 pandemic, health and economic crisis.

On the second day, experts will discuss the widening educational gap in the post-coronavirus era.

Among the speakers are Rebecca Winthrop, senior fellow and co-director of the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institute; Kang Sang-wook, a senior official in charge of future human resources policy at the Ministry of Science and ICT; and Ham-Mukasa Mulira, chairman of the Virtual University of Uganda’s governing council.

Kang from the Korean government will give a keynote speech on the problems laid bare by the opening of classes online -- the low quality of classes and the digital divide. He is to underscore the opportunities created by the COVID-19 crisis, saying the pandemic could speed up much-needed innovation in digital education, according to KAIST.

About 158 million students were taking classes at home online as of the end of April due to school closures in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to statistics from UNESCO. This poses questions about quality of education and even about the need for physical university campuses.

The forum follows a forum held by KAIST in April on global cooperation in the post-coronavirus era, which looked into the COVID-19 crisis and how it affects politics, economy, industry and education.

“As a leader of innovating university education in Korea, KAIST arranged the forum to resolve educational issues in a contactless society, which was brought forward by COVID-19, together with the international society,” commented professor Kim Jung-ho, the head of KAIST’s Global Strategy Institute.

By Lee Kwon-hyoung and Ock Hyun-ju (