Go­ing Global: con­fer­ence hears about ed­u­cat­ing refugees, em­brac­ing AI and en­cour­ag­ing so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity

THE (Times Higher Education) - - CONTENTS - Si­mon.baker@timeshigh­ere­d­u­ca­tion.com

Stu­dents in Asia are much more em­brac­ing of on­line higher ed­u­ca­tion because they re­alise that it is a golden op­por­tu­nity for them to climb the “so­cial mo­bil­ity lad­der”, a con­fer­ence has heard.

Giv­ing a key­note speech at the open­ing of the Go­ing Global con­fer­ence, tech­nol­ogy en­tre­pre­neur Aye­sha Khanna (pic­tured in­set) said that peo­ple in many Western na­tions were fright­ened about how au­to­ma­tion might change the na­ture of work and learn­ing.

In Asia, how­ever, there was more of a drive, es­pe­cially among young peo­ple, to re­alise the po­ten­tial of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and ro­bot­ics for chang­ing so­ci­ety, she said.

Dr Khanna, co- founder of ADDO AI, a tech­nol­ogy ad­vi­sory firm based in Sin­ga­pore, said that her em­ploy­ees in Asia would of­ten stay up late into the night to fin­ish a mas­sive open on­line course because they knew that it would help them ad­vance in their ca­reer.

“This is a great mo­ment for Asia…we have never been so driven and never has op­por­tu­nity come knock­ing on our door [so much] because of AI and ro­bot­ics and tech­nol­ogy,” she said. “I go to Swe­den, to Amer­ica, to the UK, to Italy, [and there I see] they are afraid of au­to­ma­tion; but in Asia we are not afraid, we see this as an op­por­tu­nity to leapfrog and to climb up that so­cial mo­bil­ity lad­der that has been de­nied to some un­justly.”

She added that it was no co­in­ci­dence that when the Mooc plat­form Cours­era wanted to raise more money from in­vestors, it was because de­mand for its cour­ses “was highest from Latin Amer­ica, China and In­dia”.

Dr Khanna also said that cam­pus-based uni­ver­si­ties sim­ply could not of­fer the type of tech­no­log­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion that peo­ple in these re­gions wanted because the pace of change in knowl­edge was too fast. Cit­ing a course on the de­sign of self-driv­ing cars on the Udac­ity Mooc plat­form, she said that “there was a good chance that you will strug­gle to find any univer­sity in the world that is so cut­ting edge as to give this course”.

How­ever, Dr Khanna also told the con­fer­ence that the need for a

cre­ative ed­u­ca­tion from uni­ver­si­ties was greater than ever because of the tech­no­log­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion.

“Never be­fore have we needed cre­ativ­ity and imag­i­na­tion and the hu­man­i­ties as much as now, as ma­chines do the rou­tine work and we are re­ally free” to fo­cus on the cre­ative side, she said.

She added that it was also “a myth that AI can just func­tion on its own. To­mor­row if I came to your in­sti­tu­tion and you wanted us to set up a per­son­alised learn­ing al­go­rithm, we couldn’t write a line of code with­out… the in­sight into ped­a­gogy and stu­dent learn­ing.”

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