Courtesy of an invitation from the conference convenor (The International Institute of Knowledge Management) I joined delegates from higher education institutions across the Asian region in sharing practice on digital education at the 2nd International Conference on Global Education and E-Learning (GLOBED 2018) on 12th and 13th November in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The digital literacies theme for the conference invited delegates to submit research papers on ‘space, mobilities and practice’ – paying specific attention to the skills required by academics to thrive in a digital environment and to help support the new generation of learners coming into higher education. This was a theme that I addressed in my own presentation on programme design at the University of York (slides here), highlighting the opportunities for the use of technology to support active learning study and assessment methods – specifically as a medium to exploit students’ creative capacities in expressing and developing their own learning.
The conference offered an excellent opportunity to learn about innovations in digital practice across Asia. Dr Rosamaliza Kamalludeen (International Islamic University Malaysia) gave the opening keynote talk, reporting on digital developments within the Malaysian higher education sector. The Malaysian government’s Education Blueprint (2015-2025) has established a clear vision for higher education supported through the use of learning technology. The Blueprint articulates a commitment to ‘harness the power of online learning to widen access to good quality content, enhance the quality of teaching and learning, lower the cost of delivery, and bring Malaysian expertise to the global community’. Dr Kamulludeen explained how this commitment has helped to shape institutional objectives, not least in the development of open education courses as a way of sharing knowledge and opening up access to higher education. The Malaysian government has required each HE institution to produce a minimum of four MOOCs showcasing their niche areas of expertise – for which dedicated pump priming funds have been provided. The education ministry has subsequently established a national e-learning platform to host these courses- delivered on the OpenLearning platform (https://www.openlearning.com/malaysiamoocs) – which is free to use for non-profit bearing course delivery – offering a sustainable way forward in the sharing of content and course materials across the country.
There were a number of stand-out presentations on institutional digital practices and innovations which caught my attention, not least the paper by Maya Al Hawary (Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University) on the use of social media platforms in the United Arab Emirates. Maya reported how video clips have been created to explore emotional intelligence principles and used to address ethical, cultural and social awareness, and have been widely disseminated through social media channels. These video resources are aimed at promoting the significance of emotional intelligence in supporting effective interaction in work and personal life, touching on social skills and the development of decision-making and leadership capabilities. The efficacy of this micro-learning approach in enhancing social and professional skills forms the central focus of the PhD study that she is currently researching.
Manurung and Purawadi reported on an ethnographic study of informal learning spaces in Bandung city Indonesia, comparing student engagement levels in informal learning situations with attendance and engagement as part of formal on-campus activities. Through a qualitative study of student behaviour in cafes and restaurants, they have tracked how students have developed their own autonomous learning communities, drawing on virtual tools and resources to support their learning. This has led to some instructional experimentation with blended delivery and off-site / off-campus teaching in coffee shops as a way of engaging learners who struggle with the stresses of the formal curriculum, leading to improved engagement patterns.
Using technology to increase participation for non-traditional learners was a theme which was explored in a number of other presentations. Hettiarachchi reported on how the promotion of self-directed learning for undergraduates was being supported at Kelaniya University, Sri Lanka through an online gamification design to a computing fundamentals course. The gamification design has been successful in driving up participation rates, which have enabled students to grasp core computing concepts which they need to apply to programme-level activities within the Department of Industrial Management.
These are just some of the highlights of a fascinating conference event, which provided many networking opportunities and a valuable space to reflect on strategies for the embedding of technology enhanced learning from a variety of national and institutional perspectives. My sincere thanks to the International Institute of Knowledge Management for arranging for me to attend GLOBED 2018.