The 2021 Spring Global Education Deans’ Forum Held Online

2021-04-30  |   1,419 views

On April 28, Beijing time 21:00-22:45, the 2021 Spring online meeting of Global Education Deans’ Forum (GEDF) was held via ZOOM. The meeting was organized by the School of Education and Human Development of Boston College. 24 education college deans from different countries and regions, including China, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Russia, Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Australia, Israel, South Korea, South Africa, Pakistan, China’s Hong Kong met together online where they discussed about challenges and opportunities each country/region encountered in post-pandemic era and shared their current situation and trends of education. Also, they exchanged their visions for the future of GEDF. Representatives at the forum from ECNU include: Yuan Zhenguo, Dean of the Faculty of Education, Xun Yuan, Executive Associate Dean of the Faculty of Education, Yang Fuyi, Associate Dean of the Graduate School, ECNU, and staff from the International Affairs Division of the Faculty of Education.

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Participants of the 2021 Spring online meeting of GEDF

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Participants at the offline venue of ECNU

The online meeting was hosted by Stanton Wortham, Dean of the School of Education and Human Development of Boston College. He extended a warm welcome to every dean and expressed gratitude for their participation in this forum. Noting that an online meeting before the end of pandemic had a significant meaning for GEDF, he hoped every dean could talk about trends in schools of education during post-pandemic era and innovative action which generated certain experience to draw on, together contributing for the future development of GEDF.

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Stanton Wortham, Dean of the School of Education and Human Development of Boston College, hosted the meeting

Yuan Zhenguo, Dean of the Faculty of Education, ECNU and Rick Ginsberg, Dean of School of Education of Kansas University were invited to present keynote speeches on “Current situation and trends in Schools of Education” at the meeting.

Professor Yuan Zhenguo promoted the Report on Developmental Experience of Undergraduates in Chinese Elite Research Universities During COVID-19 conducted by a project group of Peking University focusing on “ College students’ Cultivation System and Students’ Developmental Theory Research”,  which could provid references for deans to take a general view of the undergraduates’ current situation of studying and living in universities in China. In the speech, Professor Yuan shared about “Current Trends in Schools of Education in China and the Vision of GEDF”. He concluded five trends: disappearance of the boundaries of traditional normal universities with more high-level universities joining in  education discipline construction, the coexistence of integration and differentiation of education discipline, the confusion of undergraduate specialty development on pedagogy, the dilemma of teacher education’s discipline category, and the rapid development of intelligent education and information technology education. Further, he put forward three suggestions for the GEDF: First, to normalize the online-merge-offline communication platform for the global education deans. Second, to issue an annual report in which comments and views on the crucial development of global education can be included. And thirdly, to strengthen the collaboration in the field of intelligent education.

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Professor Yuan Zhenguo gave the keynote speech

Dean Ginsberg shared the education development in the United States during the pandemic. He indicated that the elementary education in the US needed to face the plight of whether schools should be re-opened and the education mode should be re-designed. The pandemic has had varying degrees of impact on the choice of teaching methods, education equity, teaching effectiveness and learning motivation for K-12 students. In higher education, teachers not only needed to handle with increased workload and decreased salary, but also were put under the pressure of layoff and promotion. Students were affected both physically and mentally and some of them had to be confronted with domestic misfortune and safety issues. Universities also bore great pressure financially. The federal government had taken countermeasures, but the subsequent and changes of COVID-19 remained unknown. Therefore, Dean Ginsberg hoped to strengthen cooperation with all the deans to discuss how the global education colleges can cope with the uncertainty and what is the future orientation of education.

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Dean Rick Ginsberg shared the education status in the US during the pandemic

Subsequently, the deans were divided into four groups to have two rounds of small group conversations focusing on “The pandemic and its ongoing effects” and “The future of schools of education”.

In the first round of conversation concentrating on “The pandemic and its ongoing effects”, participants shared their universities’ organization and management situation under the effect of the pandemic and talked about possible changes of their leadership. Many deans mentioned that online meetings increased and online communication became more frequent and the formulation and decision of policies needed to be treated with great caution. Some deans referred to the fact that the current parallel state of online and offline teaching may last for a long time and result in a large impact on  international communication and cooperation. As to the changes of leadership, many of the deans mentioned that the pandemic made them more passionate about education career, more concerned with the physical and mental health of teachers and students, more empathetic and comprehensive with all-sided understandings of the front-line educators’ situation. One of the group conversation conveners, Camilla Benbow, Dean of Education and Human Development of Vanderbilt University, concluded that although online working could bring effectiveness and convenience, it cannot realize the social emotional interaction of face-to-face communication. Education administrators still need to explore how teachers can adapt to the change and arrange work better when everything returns to the offline mode.

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The first round of conversation of group 1

The second round of conversation was about the “The future of schools of education”. On the one hand, many participants exchanged views of online and offline teaching, pointing that online teaching was a top-to-bottom movement and how to maintain the advantage of online teaching when it returns to offline mode is worth reflecting on. On the other hand, some mentioned that the pandemic promoted social status of education, and highlighted the urgency and priority of problems in education. Education industry was getting more popular and the meaning of the front-line educators was demonstrated. Professor Yuan Zhenguo shared the changes in education industry in China since the pandemic and concluded main reasons for the number increase of job seekers in education industry: first, the stability of teacher occupation has become increasingly prominent and their income has been well guaranteed; second, the flexibility of teachering  work has been enhanced so that they can better make use of time flexibly. Besides, Professor Yuan analyzed different responses of students and others to online learning during the pandemic.

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The second round of conversation of group 1

At the end of the forum, Dean Yuan Zhenguo and Dean Ginsberg made a brief conclusion for this meeting respectively. Dean Yuan appreciated the hard work and contribution of Dean Wortham and his team for organizing this meeting and expressed his missing to all of the old friends. Dean Ginsberg briefly summarized the two rounds of small group conversation and wished to have face-to-face meetings under COVID-19 prevention regulation and looked forward to the third offline formal forum. And participants further discussed the future development of GEDF.

Global Education Deans’ Forum (GEDF), an important international platform for education colleges of different countries and nations to connect, communicate and learn from each other, conforms to the development and change of the time and creates opportunities to solve educational issues based on global perspectives. In this forum, all the  deans had a deep discussion about the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on education, and further explored the possibility of online and offline educational methods integration as well as the change and significance of education work under the pandemic, which strengthened the morale and confidence of educators in new era.

Source: International Affairs Division of the Faculty of Education