Photo: Glenn Carstens Peters / Unsplash
Joan Antoni Guerrero Vall
As a pioneer in the innovative use of the new technologies in education, the UOC has been invited to take part in the project as a member of the expert working group
The UOC is working with the International Association of Universities (IAU) on a declaration in support of the digital transformation of higher education. The declaration advocates universities as leaders in driving the digital transformation both of higher education and of society as a whole, for the benefit of the global common good.
The document's draft calls for establishing national and international frameworks that enhance the potential of digital transformation and proposes building bridges across digital divides to facilitate universal access. As well as preparing institutions' staff, students, citizens and higher education policymakers for lifelong learning in a rapidly evolving world, the text calls for ethical and responsible conduct and dialogue, urging the institutions to move forward together through collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Pastora Martínez Samper, the UOC's Vice President for Globalization and Cooperation, highlighted that the IAU's proposal "comes at a time when we are witnessing a COVID-19-driven acceleration of the digital transformation of higher education". She added that "it represents a significant contribution to our university systems, which need to reflect carefully on the impact that digital transformation will have on higher education".
As a pioneer in the innovative use of the new technologies in education, the UOC has been invited to take part in the project as a member of the expert working group. In this role, the University has shared experiences and good practices with universities around the world, contributing knowledge and expertise for improving higher education through e-learning.
A need for collective reflection
According to Daniel Riera, dean of the UOC's Faculty of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications and member of the declaration's expert group from the IAU, the text "calls for collective reflection by institutions from around the world at a time when the university community is at a historic crossroads". In addition, Riera highlighted that, "while the new technologies can contribute to societal development and improve people's standard of living, they also raise serious doubts related with ethical, regulatory and equality issues".
It is precisely for this reason that the IAU's declaration seeks to foster "the forward-looking vision that universities need to engage in," explained Nadja Gmelch, director of UOC Globalization and Cooperation's Open Knowledge Projects unit and another member of the IAU's expert group. The text also draws attention to the fact that the pandemic has forced the world to transform itself into "a digital laboratory", albeit, she warned, with "unequal opportunities".
Open international consultation
At present, the declaration, which can be viewed online, is a draft document that has been made public within an international consultation process that will remain open until the beginning of November. "We invite the other institutions to engage with this initiative and make the contributions they consider necessary to arrive at a final declaration," Vice President Martínez Samper stressed. The declaration is aligned with the values defended by the UOC, which conceives technology as a tool for social inclusion.
The initiative to draw up the declaration began two years ago, with the UOC participating as a member of the IAU. Technology and university digital transformation is one of the many fields in which the IAU is working.