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Pubdate:2018.2.5. 11:11 Author:editorSource:Beijing Normal University

Today, the new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation is an irresistible trend, and it has sped up the conversion of scientific research paradigms and social governance model. On the one hand, emerging technologies such as the Internet, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Cloud Computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Virtual Reality (VR) are changing people’s way of thinking and living. On the other hand, these technologies can also lead to unprecedented technology ethic issues and significant risks, many uncertainties are shaping our future. Countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan have successively published AI development strategies, ranging from policy plan, industry layout to industry exploration, so as to enhance the integration of intelligent technologies with every area, actively prevent the negative impacts of AI and focus on developing “trustworthy” AI.

Education, aiming at enlightening people, should not only carry forward the spirit and culture of mankind, but also cultivate innovative individuals oriented to the future. The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2016) has put forward the idea of “ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education to promote lifelong learning opportunities (LLO) for all (SDGs-4)”. To provide extensive insight into educational development for countries across the globe, UNESCO has released reports on the futures of education in succession, including Learning to Be: The world of education today and tomorrow (1972), Learning: The Treasure Within (1996), Rethinking Education: Towards a global common good? (2015). In 2019, UNESCO launched the Futures of Education initiative which looks into the education in 2050 and beyond, attempting to reimagine how education and knowledge can shape the future of humanity in a context of increasing complexity, uncertainty and precarity.

The Chinese government has also published the New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan, Innovative Action Plan for Artificial Intelligence in Colleges and Universities, Education Informatization 2.0 Action Plan, China Education Modernization 2035 Framework so as to provide guidance, objectives and methods for the application of AI in education. The Ministry of Education has selected 10 regions for establishing Smart Education Demonstration Zones, expecting to expedite the exploration of new model, new method and new path to transform education through ICT and intelligent technologies. In recent years, smart education has received increasing attention all over the world. Smart education refers to an educational system with high-quality learning experience, highly adaptable learning content and high teaching efficiency that is provided by schools, regions or countries. As a high-end form of ICT in education, smart education is committed to setting up smart learning environment, exploring new models of learning and teaching, building modern educational system. With the support of information technologies, such as AI, futures of education will open a new chapter in smart education.

Since the beginning of 2020, quite a few schools have adopted online teaching due to the spread of COVID-19 pandemic across the world. After the outbreak, China’s Ministry of Education has launched an initiative “Disrupted Classes, Undisrupted Learning” to integrate high-quality educational resources at school, city, province and country level in order to realize home study of 270 million students through distance education. During the pandemic, the National Engineering Laboratory for Cyberlearning and Intelligent Technology (CIT) and Smart Learning Institute of Beijing Normal University (SLIBNU) have carried out policy consultation, academic research, program research and development, etc., and jointly worked with UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE) in finalizing and publishing a series of handbooks, covering flexible learning and online education, which helped share Chinese experience and explore new forms of the futures of education with worst-hit regions of the COVID-19.

From 2016 to 2019, Beijing Normal University, jointly with University of North Texas and other institutions have held 4 consecutive US-China Smart Education Conference (UCSEC) to explore the development trend of future educational technologies and released relevant research reports that have exerted great influences. Smart education is expected to play an important role in the society with uncertainties, multipolar world and the intelligence era. In order to further understand the latest achievements and development trends in smart education, grasp the influences of AI on the futures of education, discuss the factors, features, plans and potential problems in IT-driven educational development under special circumstances, set up international platforms for educational research, exchange and cooperation, press ahead the building of “a community of shared future in cyberspace ”, Beijing Normal University, with the approval from the Ministry of Education, will collaborate with international organizations and other Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to hold the 2020 Global Smart Education Conference on August this year.