Tsinghua University launched global event with UNESCO to discuss online education amid COVID-19

By Chen Xi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/25 19:18:40

Participants of global event "The Special Dialogue: Online Education in the COVID-19 Response and Beyond" launched by Tsinghua University co-convened with UNESCO on Friday Photo: Courtesy of Tsinghua University

China's Tsinghua University held a global online event Friday night titled, "The Special Dialogue: Online Education in the COVID-19 Response and Beyond" with 21 universities from 15 countries co-convened with UNESCO to share experiences about online education amid COVID-19 pandemic and calls for cooperation to explore new teaching modes combining online and off-line education.

Leaders, scholars and experts, including the presidents of Tsinghua University, Yale University, Waseda University and Vice-chancellor of University of Cambridge, introduced and discussed the new changes brought by the online teaching practices and teaching modes that have evolved since the pandemic hit. They conducted in-depth discussions on the future of cooperation between universities for teaching and scientific research exchanges.

Stephania Giannini, UNESCO assistant director general for education, said at the event that the virus crisis brought three major challenges to universities: connectivity, preparedness of teachers and faculty, and dimensions of online education. Universities need to take the opportunity to shape peer and sustainable common destinies.

"Recent events make clear that we must work together to accelerate teaching and discovery so we can bring knowledge and value to a world in great need of answers," Peter Salovey, President of Yale University, said during the event.

Yang Bin, Vice-President and Provost of Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Friday that he hoped universities from all over the world could cooperate on 

COVID-19 vaccines, and build up a basic online education technology network. 

For example, Tsinghua University is offering Rain Classroom, Tsinghua's independently-designed online learning platform to the Mongolian University of Science and Technology in Mongolia for free in order to introduce the experience of management modes in online education. Since Chinese universities launched online courses earlier than the universities in other countries during the outbreak of pandemic,  they have crucial lessons for the world, Li Jinliang, Dean for International Affair in Tsinghua Univerity told the Global Times.

According to UNESCO, more than 1.5 billion learners in 165 countries, roughly 87 percent of the world's student population, cannot return to school for study due to COVID-19 school closures. 

Shi Zhongying, Dean of the Institute of Education at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times that teachers would adjust their course schedules for international time differences and to make sure technical difficulties of logging in are allayed for intentional students. 

"Tsinghua University also established a foundation to offer aid to those students living in remote places and who could not be able to offer network fees," Shi added, noting that education equality problems are a global issue that all the countries need to strive to deal with.  

He also explained his expectation to apply 5G technology with online education, which would be a breakthrough in the both fields of education and technology. 

Also at the event, the Institute of Education in Tsinghua University released an interim report on the "Evaluation and implications of Tsinghua University's emergency online education," underscoring policy entrepreneurialism, organization and leadership, broad education experience of students and faculty, specific learning and teaching behaviors, and recommendations for future education.

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