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Technology, access dominate EAIE discussions

Laura Howard, President of EAIE, opens the conference in Glasgow. Photo: The PIE News

"With virtual reality students can go into another world"

He also provoked participants to think about the nature of pedagogy, saying that denying the use of technology in learning environments is only delaying the inevitable.

Using technology-fuelled open educational resources like YouTube and Wikipedia to teach theory, frees up classroom time to create active learning environments.

“The only way you get scalability of education beyond the rich developed world is through technology”

To complete the picture, researchers shouldn’t be allowed to teach, he argued.

“We need to break the link between research and teacher,” he said. “We need to ban the word lecturer.”

Classrooms, then, are where student and teacher participate together in proactive learning environments that can be enhanced with virtual reality.

“With virtual reality students can go into another world. It’s more emotionally intense and students’ retention is increased,” he argued.

Alongside incorporating consumer technology into learning environments, Clark argued that using algorithms for adaptive learning holds the most promise in the long run, providing customised teaching and personalised learning.

“It’s how Google, Netflix, Facebook and Amazon work. It’s in our lives all the time,” he said listing advantages that algorithms have over teachers including ignoring gender and racial differences and never getting tired or ill.

Technology can also combat the commodification of higher education, a common problem discussed throughout the three-day conference.

“I would like everybody to get a degree but I would like it to be cheap. I’d like it to be free. The only way you get that scalability beyond the rich developed world is through technology,” he said. “There aren’t enough human beings on the planet to solve this problem by paying teachers money.”

In the case of Africa specifically, he argued that educators have a moral duty to help build infrastructure to support African entrepreneurs creating solutions.

More than 5,000 delegates from 90 countries attended the 27th annual conference that took place at a time when Europe’s refugee crisis is dominating headlines around the world. What higher education institutions should be doing was a hot topic in plenaries, sessions and networking breaks.

“Facilitating the recognition of degrees of studies that the displaced are bringing with them is something higher education institutions can look into doing right now”

Speaking with The PIE News, Laura Howard, president of EAIE said the organisation aims to be a platform for institutions to exchange ideas, working toward a solution.

“Although international education can help to build a better future, I think there are things that our institutions can think about doing right now,” she added.

She mentioned “facilitating the recognition of degrees of studies that the displaced are bringing with them so that those that have started higher education but not finished don’t have to start again from the beginning,” as a solution along with giving grants to support their studies.

“These are very concrete things that higher education institutions can look into doing right now.”

Meanwhile Baroness Helena Kennedy, a social rights lawyer, opened the conference telling delegates that education should “be a common good, not a commodity” and told universities that “they have obligations to bring in refugees”.

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