Thematic Track 8

Theme 8: Technology for the 21st Century Teaching & Learning

Coordinators: Mr Ebrahim Adam and Mr Abdulbaqi Badru

In recent times, higher education has been rocked by turbulence and demands for transformation on a global scale. Many debates, discussions and deliberations have emerged regarding the future of higher education, with many glances in the direction of technology.
Past discussions have centred around the rapid evolution of learning technologies, adoption of innovative digital pedagogies, and enhanced research capabilities and efficiencies in higher education. Some technologies and paradigms being discussed include MOOCs, Web 2.0, social media, blended learning, big data and analytics, and the prevalence of mobile devices which, coupled with technologies like cloud computing, present many opportunities for enhancing experiences of students, academics and support staff. Much has been reflected on how to engage students through these platforms, how to effectively and ethically utilise these platforms for research, the opportunities and challenges in terms of costs and access, and how institutions can embrace these paradigms and technological platforms to derive maximum value for teaching, learning, research and community engagement. This has taken place whilst acknowledging that these paradigms and platforms threaten the traditional higher education systems which have been in existence for hundreds of years.
Within the context of the recent crises and contestations facing higher education, technology has begun to assume a fundamental, as opposed to previously complementary, role of engaging students with curricula, connecting researchers with platforms to enhance research, and enabling universities to function. Additionally, widely accessible technologies are increasingly levelling the field among institutions with technology serving as a differentiator whilst also being regarded as a commodity. Such a shift in perspective demands that greater consideration is given to the role of technologies as integral to higher education, as opposed to technologies as merely an enhancement. The technologies, which have been featured in discussions, are now increasingly relevant.
Additional topics of interest include exploring the role of technology in fostering innovation in higher education, the re-designing of learning and research spaces, learning analytics and personalised learning, augmented and virtual reality, makerspaces and robotics, and game-based learning and gamification. A further area of interest is the role of technology for acquiring and generating knowledge through research.
Students are increasingly provided with constant access to streams of information, which brings immense potential. However, the motivation and aptitude to access and interrogate original and seminal academic texts as sources of knowledge has been substituted by easily accessible search results, and posts and tweets, which can have potentially destructive consequences. There is an increasing urgency to explore and unpack strategies to bridge this widening gap between academic sources of knowledge and media commonly accessed by students, in a manner that encourages substantial learning whilst also paving the way for knowledge generation.
Scholars and researchers are invited to offer insights into innovative and practical approaches that may address the various crises and challenges faced by higher education. Ultimately, the multifaceted role of technology in shaping the higher education landscape into the future requires exploration, debate and discussion.

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