From the Great Wall to the Great Global Dialogues Conference

After much anticipation the day for the conference has finally arrived. Yesterday evening, we were brought by car to the National Association for Education Administration offices in Daxing, about 33 km from the Landmark Hotel in Beijing. It actually took about 1hr 3o mins because the traffic was so busy. It is a Government organization responsible for oversight of Chinas Higher Education. The building was very official, immaculate with huge rooms as part of their hotel conference facilities. When we arrived they had waited for us to give us a meal (my chopsticks skills are improving) and Jennifer (I am not sure of her given name) was with us while we ate.

This morning we met (Neil Morris (Leeds), Paul Redmond (Liverpool), Stephen Gomez (Plymouth, HEA and Pearsons) Steve Furnell (Plymouth) in the equivalent of the ‘green room’ for our debriefing about the days event. The conference facilities were excellent and the translators were amazing. Haixia (British Council) explained the procedures and we were led to the Conference theatre. They provided us with devices to listen to the lectures as the translators performed brilliantly in our ears. We had a lovely lunch and then after lunch Neil Morris and I did our talks. I was the last person to talk. All through the day the delegates had talked about MOOCs, despite this not being something that we had been specifically tasked to talk about. The whole conference was about the Impact of Digital Technology on Higher Education, so its not surprising that MOOCs were the hot topic of the day. My talk was about Internationalisation. So I mentioned about the strategic goals of the Southampton, and the work that my department was doing, not only on MOOCs but also Digital Literacies. I realized all day that the only mention of the skills that were needed to utilize all of this technology was from Professor Fei Li who mentioned ‘teaching literacy’. I had already included digital literacies in my short talk so I emphasized the importance of developing those skills. Neil Morris also mentioned the students and the part that they play within UK higher education and in particular his University (Leeds). I then re-emphasised our Digital Champions, and how important their contribution was to the internationsalisation of our University.

I am now back at the Landmark Hotel, getting ready for another exciting day. Tomorrow we go to the prestigious Tsinghua University to find out from them about their collaboration with Edx.

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