At an event hosted by Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, the Leaders exchanged experiences with a group of experts around new technologies and online education
Both Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) are members of Alianza 4 Universidades, a patron of the Spain India Council Foundation. The session, which took place at the Faculty of Communication’s TV set, was recorded and streamed.
Josep Ferrer, Vice-Chancellor of International Relations at UPF, opened the meeting by talking about the institution’s global spirit: “Along the way we have been in talks with other foreign universities, paid visits to one another, signed agreements and promoted student and researcher mobility.” However, there are still many barriers to overcome, such as “distance, language and cultural differences.” In his opinion, “if we want to be among the world’s top universities, we need to work on internationalisation and we need to do it now.” Montserrat Alegre, Head of International Relations at UAB, gave a video presentation of her university for the Leaders to learn about the centre’s approach.
The roundtable, entitled ‘The future of the education: MOOCs, internet platforms and online communities,’ was moderated by Manel Jiménez, Professor at UPF’s Department of Communication, who was pleased to welcome the Indian Leaders: “I’m sure you will contribute interesting points of view.”
Daniel Serra, Director of the Barcelona School of Management (UPF), analysed how technology can help to professionalise students. “Technological advances allow us to develop programmes and go to places we wouldn’t be able to go otherwise,” he explained. Serra also emphasised that “not only are we capable of effectively reaching Latin America, but we can also offer in-company training, adapting to organisations’ specific processes, which are much more complex than those of undergraduate students.”
The Director of UAB’s School of Engineering, Daniel Franco, highlighted the main challenge when it comes to new technologies in education: teacher training. “Teachers need special training, they need to learn how the new methodology is going to work and, based on that methodology, get the best out of every student,” which is a task of great complexity, according to Franco. “The students are very used to using those tools on a daily basis, but the teachers are not, and even less so applied to their work,” he concluded.
Xavier Serra, Head of the Music Technology Group, wished to clarify his opinion about globalisation: “We think things are quite globalised, but that is not the case.” He emphasised that not all students have the same experience or learn in the same way, and pointed out that “technology gives us the chance to tailor education to the needs of every student.” Carlos Scolari, Professor at the Department of Communication (UPF), advocated for the use of quality technology tools to “succeed amidst the deluge of information we get from the internet,” and said he agreed with Daniel Franco that “teacher training is all-important.”
Juan Antonio Martínez, Head of the Information Systems Planning unit at UAB, stated the following: “We should not be asking what technology can do for the university, but rather, what is it that we need from it.” “We always focus on technology, but we should see it as an aid. We are nothing without teachers, they provide experience and knowledge and are the backbone of the system,” he added. Daniel Cassany, Professor at the Department of Translation and Linguistics, disagreed, stating that “although students are digital natives, they don’t know how to surf the internet efficiently.” In his opinion, “we must teach them to use it better, to run searches beyond Google and be able to tell sources apart.”
R. K. Shevgaonkar and Pawan Agarwal, participants in the Leaders Programme, reflected on the challenge that adapting those new tools and making them accessible for the Indian population entails, given that the country has 144 million students. Ajay Pandey was interested in knowing “how learning outcomes with those technologies are being measured,” as “it is important to evolve, but quality must be maintained.” Ayesha Banerjee agreed with Xavier Serra: “The world nowadays is an information jungle.” “At the Hindustan Times we aim to work as a filter. We seek to tailor our offer to what each reader or student might find useful,” she said.