Nearly 200 educators from over 20 countries have joined FPT Education Global’s discussion on the impact of Covid-19 on the future of education. Keynote speakers from Malaysia, Australia, France, and Vietnam discussed how universities can shape the future through collaboration and “reimagineering” new modes of working and learning.
Academician Senior Professor Dato’ Dr. Khalid Yusoff FASc, Vice-Chancellor and President of UCSI University (Malaysia) started the discussion by sharing how Malaysia has addressed the challenges posed by Covid-19 in terms of ensuring the safety and well-being of staff and students, ensuring university operations, and preparing for a post-COVID world.
Professor Khalid highlighted that student mobility would suffer the most in the post-COVID 19 world, and that people must try to reimagineer the new norm as they have the capability to shape what the future might be. On emphasizing the importance of collaboration between universities, Professor Khalid suggested creating a consortium for education of the future post-covid 19 so that thinkers and stakeholders in education could come together.
Sharing the same opinion on the importance of universities’ international collaboration, Professor Michaela Rankin – Professor of Accounting and Deputy Dean (International) from Monash Business School (Australia) – emphasized that world-leading thought leaders in every discipline contributing their wealth of knowledge and experience could be the starting point for international collaboration in overcoming the impacts of the pandemic.
Professor Rankin additionally shared on how Monash University has adjusted to the new way of teaching and learning where students are engaged virtually in multiple ways – participating in virtual orientation, telephoning incoming students, meeting industry partners virtually. “Working remotely and working digitally—the students are learning fantastic skills to be able to work in multinational teams globally. So I see a great deal of opportunities for universities globally to be collaborating together to provide opportunities for students to do that more” – said Professor Rankin.
Also joining the webinar as a keynote speaker, Ms. Nazima Canda – Director of International Relations, EPITA (Ecole Pour l’Informatique et les Techniques Avancées) (France) discussed the multifaceted impacts of Covid-19 on higher education and student mobility in France and Europe. She addressed the future trends to be observed at universities in France with regards to embracing online teaching, online learning, and online recruitment methods and stressed that “We have to find solutions and alternatives to work more and more remotely.” Additionally, Ms. Canda highlighted the need for new ways of cross-border university collaborations and for support across sectors—universities, industries, government—to best support students.
As the last keynote speaker of the webinar, Dr. Nguyen Thanh Nam – Former CEO of FPT Corporation, Founder and President of FUNiX – The First Online University of Vietnam did not address the impact of Covid-19 or online learning directly. Yet he pointed our how educators need to leverage the internet to enhance lifelong learning skills of the students. Dr. Nam elaborated on the “FUNiX Way” where students self-study with materials from world’s top universities in online courses while expanding their professional network with industry mentors. The FUNiX Way not only teaches students the skills and knowledge of their field, but also the self-study and networking skills which they take with them throughout their lifelong learning journey.
The webinar ended with a vibrant Q&A session wherein the audience posed timely questions with regards to the impact of Covid-19 on online classes and examination as well as student learning and interaction. On addressing distance learning, the speakers reported that with the new online communication platforms set up, students were able to engage in new ways—asking more questions during class and interacting more with professors and other students after class, which had not been the case prior to the adjustment to the teaching method.
With regards to the future of online learning—whether online classes are only a temporary solution or will be incorporated into the curriculum of the new normal, the university leaders saw a future of blended learning where classes could be moving away from large lectures. Some classes could be continued online while others would still be operated face-to-face, especially where students have to work in projects together, yet the new face-to-face teaching environment will “most likely be different”.
The webinar has brought great insight for educators around the world to learn from their colleagues’ experience as we higher education institutions adapt to changes in all aspects. Mr. Hoang Van Cuong – Dean of FPT Education Global and moderator of the webinar – concluded the discussion with hopeful thoughts for future collaborations and formation of partnerships among universities in order to adapt to the new normal and shape the future.