Digital Technologies in Education: local and global insights into digital initiatives in higher education
Auditorio Lugano Campus
The fast development of digital technologies in recent years is offering new possibilities to reinvent higher education. Alternative forms of interaction are progressively complementing and enriching face-to-face forms of teaching and learning. At the same time, by making courses accessible to millions of students worldwide, the emergence of e-Learning and the growth of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is reducing geographic distance while expanding the influence of major universities.
What are the possibilities and challenges brought by digital technologies in higher education? How are they reshaping the academic landscape worldwide? Is it hype or revolution? We invite you to join the debate and share local and global insights into digital initiatives in higher education.
EAWAG, a world-leading water research institute in Switzerland, just launched the MOOCs serie “WASH in developing countries”. The course is a joint initiative of EAWAG and EPFL, which enables students and professionals to reach integral expertise on the wide breadth of the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) theme. The series contains courses about Water Treatment, Sanitation, Solid Waste and Excreta & Wastewater Management. Yesterday, the next MOOC of the series, entitled “Planning & Design of Sanitation Systems and Technologies” has been launched. Participants can learn how to plan affordable and context-specific sanitation solutions. The course is free, in English and has French subtitles. For further information please visit the course page.
On 24 September 2014, the Embassy of Switzerland in Vienna organized a round table entitled “MOOCs, e-learning, virtual campus : is the future of university teaching digital?” in which participated Professor Karl Aberer, Vice-president for Information Systems, EPFL, Prof. Christiane Spiel, Professor for Educational Psychology and Evaluation, University of Vienna, Prof. Joachim Metzner, Vice-President of the German Rectors‘ Conference, Cologne, and Prof. Martin Ebner, Assistant Professor at the Institute for Building Informatics (IBI) at Graz University of Technology.
In his keynote speech, Prof Aberer briefly described the recent history of MOOCs, which started at Stanford University in 2011 and attracted at that time more than 160’000 students. Sign in + video (5-10 minutes) + quiz tests + social interaction + certificate are according to Aberer the key elements of MOOCs. MOOCs offer an opportunity to educate more people, allow students to enter in contact with the economy and may serve as a recruitment tool. Generally, MOOCs provide a good opportunity for universities to improve their international visibility and should allow economies of scale. The question of the recognition of the certificates is still open. A certificate confirming merely the attendance of a MOOC is certainly not enough. MOOCs allow also the universities to diversify their teaching offer. However, a university should not concentrate on MOOCs and MOOCs should not replace traditional teaching at universities. In other words, MOOCs shall be complementary to traditional lectures. (more…)
In spring 2013, the University of Tokyo created big headlines by announcing its participation in the for-profit US MOOC provider Coursera, offering two courses in English from fall 2014. Soon after, other national universities joined the fad: this spring both Kyoto University and Osaka University released their first courses via edX, a non-profit MOOC platform developed by Harvard and MIT.
Written by Matthias Frey, Science & Technology Councellor, Embassy of Switzerland in Japan (www.stofficetokyo.ch).