The Camilo José Cela University (UCJC) This Wednesday hosted the first day of the long-awaited and necessary Global Education Forum (GEF), a series of debates at an international level on the issue of university education. And, as Emilio Lora-Tamayo –rector of the university– told EL ESPAÑOL last week, on this first day they have put on the table “the challenges and opportunities that higher education has before it. current paradigm shift”.
The platform that made this GEF possible was created 10 years ago, but it has been with the coronavirus pandemic that the process has accelerated. Thus, the last 20 months were of intense work for the hundred international experts who formed the ‘think tank’ (reflection group) and whose conclusions are collected in the Manifest: 12 points that summarize the conclusions about what the university of the future should be like.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the Campus de Almagro of the UCJC dressed up today for the opening of a long-awaited event. Five minutes after the opening took place, the commotion and nerves could be noticed among the students who were waiting at the door to enter. In total, there were more than 4,000 people following the GEF online thanks to the simultaneous translation system used by the organization.
For Nieves Segovia, one of the greatest experts in educational innovation and President of the SEK Educational Institution and the Camilo Jose Cela-UCJC University, the fact that it could be followed online was key: “The new digital environment allows things that we could not do before, like this meeting, which would not have made much sense in an audience of 4,000 people, and fewer people from 50 countries than many they could not have come ”.
More than a forum
Another issue that has become clear this first day is that the GEF is not the end but the beginning. It is sought that both public and private universities join this project in order to meet the needs of the new generations. In other words, it is not a specific or local forum.
In fact, one of the great bets of the UCJC has been to listen to the contributions of the students: “It is not a debate from the university to the university as often happens in scientific congresses, but rather It is a debate from the university to the whole of society”, Segovia tells EL ESPAÑOL. This explains why, of the more than 100 experts who will take part in the forum, there are innovative professors and people from other fields.
The voice of the students, therefore, was important during the session. Not in vain, it has been Zaynab Berriche, an Algerian girl representing the International Mobility Student Community, who has taken the floor in the first place. In his speech, he emphasized that the forum gives the opportunity for students to participate in the debate on what should be changed and what are the solutions.
To reflect on this, the UCJC launched a Hackathon in which they have participated 1,000 students from 22 of the best universities and schools in the world. 13 universities managed to pass the round until only the two finalists have remained. On Friday the results of this Hackathon will be known, but as has been advanced Jennifer Cuesta, one of the students who has participated, have debated questions such as “the three aspects that the university should eliminate, the three that it should maintain, etc”.
The GEF has had the presence of one of the most internationally recognized voices on the subject: Richard Light, professor at Harvard and author of the best-seller Making the most of college: students speak their minds. In his speech he explained an experiment that he himself carried out with his students and that can shed light on what the university of the third millennium will be like.
His project consisted of turn exams into learning experiences. To achieve this, Light devoted the first two-thirds of the exam to the students answering the questions in a traditional way; that is to say, that they put all their knowledge there. In the last third, Light let the students discuss the answers with their peers and change them in the remaining time: “This not only gets the grades up, but it turns the conventional exam experience into an experience where students really learn,” explains this Harvard professor.
Light has attended EL ESPAÑOL and, with his usual didacticism, has told that this methodology was born “from the time when I went to university, where we were required to do homework individually because working in a group was considered copying ”. However, the new methodologies recommend that students work as a team because this allows deeper and cross-sectional learning.
Light’s methodologies fit perfectly with what is sought in this forum and which is summarized in the four pillars that will be discussed in Thursday’s session: entrepreneurship, well-being, social impact and digitization. As has counted Bruno Zepeda, rector of the Tecmilenio University, “It is not only about preparing the student for work, but also for life.”