WDEC kicks off in Shanghai
International delegates, scholars eager to cooperate with China
Published: Jan 30, 2024 11:45 PM
Photo: Courtesy of China's Ministry of Education

Photo: Courtesy of China's Ministry of Education

The 2024 World Digital Education Conference (WDEC) started in Shanghai on Tuesday, gathering more than 800 educators, officials, and tech leaders from over 70 countries and regions. 

Keynote speakers noted that the event has become a global platform for discussions on the transformative impact of digital education and fostering international collaboration, with many international guests expressing their eagerness to deepen cooperation with China in digital education to build a shared future.

Simona-Mirela Miculescu, president of the General Conference of UNESCO, highlighted the immense potential of digital education for enhancing the quality and relevance of learning. 

She emphasized the profound importance of digital education on a global scale and the need to address the rapid emergence of generative AI tools, advocating for a human-centered vision aligned with ethical principles.

Colin Bailey, president of Queen Mary University of London, acknowledged China's strides in digital education and stressed the importance of ensuring accessibility for everyone within the country. 

Expressing his firm belief in the pivotal role of cooperation with China, Bailey emphasized the ongoing importance of such partnerships. 

"We haven't got all the answers, and that's very important, especially with internationalization," he told the Global Times. He stressed the significance of bringing people together and fostering collaboration among individuals with diverse views, backgrounds, and ideas.

Bailey articulated the potential of collaboration to push boundaries. He pointed out that when people from different cultures converge, each bringing unique perspectives and ideas, it creates an environment conducive to innovation and progress. This collaborative approach, he said, holds the key to addressing the evolving challenges in the digital education landscape.

The conference, themed "Digital Education: Application, Sharing, and Innovation," witnessed the official establishment of the World Digital Education Alliance, featuring participation from 41 countries and regions.

Huai Jinpeng, China's Minister of Education, pledged continued contributions from China to the world's digital education landscape. He highlighted China's commitment to expanding international exchanges and cooperation in this area.

Viktor Sdobnyakov, president of Minin University in Russia, commended China's expertise in utilizing the digital environment for the rapid exchange of information and replication of best practices. He expressed his university's active collaboration with Chinese institutions and participation in the newly formed alliance.

The international version of a Chinese smart education platform was also launched during the conference. 

Media reported that since its March 2022 launch, the platform has attracted over 100 million registered users and accumulated 36.7 billion views. It boasts over 88,000 educational resources for primary and secondary schools and more than 10,000 high-quality courses for vocational education.

China boasts the world's greatest amount of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) and its MOOC system, recognized as an international brand in higher education, was also spotlighted during the event. 

With 341 global courses launched, nearly 25.4 million learners have participated, according to Song Yi, an official with the Department of Higher Education under the Ministry of Education.

As the conference progresses, multiple parallel sessions on digital education are scheduled to be held, with the event set to conclude on Wednesday. This marks the second iteration of the WDEC, following the inaugural conference held in Beijing in February 2023.