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The concept of smart education and the network to create the future of education

Pubdate:2022.8.26. 14:14 Author:editorSource:Beijing Normal University

The concept of smart education and the network to create the future of education

—— the release of the results from the “National Smart Education Strategy Joint Research Program” and the launching of the Global Smart Education Network


On August 18, 2022, at the opening ceremony of the “2022 Global Smart Education Conference”, research results of the “Rethinking and Redesigning National Smart Education Strategy” were released and the initiative of the “Global Smart Education Network” was officially launched.

The strategy was jointly initiated by the UNESCO Institute for Information Technology in Education (UNSECO IITE), the Commonwealth Learning Community (COL), the International Association of Educational Technology (ISTE), the Russian National Research Higher Economics University (HSE), and Beijing Normal University (BNU). Since the launch of the research work in 2020, the Smart Learning Institute of Beijing Normal University (SLIBNU) cooperated with the four partner institutions as the secretariat of the strategy. The cooperation covered five aspects:

  1. National Smart Education Framework,
  2. Review of Policies on Smart Education,
  3. Indicators of Smart Education at Country Level,
  4. National Public Services for Smart Education, and
  5. Guidance of Smart Campus for Future Education.

SLIBNU sorted out the experience of smart education in various countries, explored the development strategy of smart education, and produced a series of research results. Professor Ronghuai Huang, Co-Dean of the Smart Learning Institute of Beijing Normal University, released the research results on behalf of the project’s expert team as follows:


Firstly, a national smart education framework was proposed towards achieving the Education 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. The framework consists of four leverage points and within these points, 3 indicators per each (hence, it includes a total of 12 core indicators). The four leverage points are:

(i) Transformative teaching & learning that is technology-enabled,

(ii) Digital learning environments supporting smart education,

(iii) Forward-thinking governance, and

(iv) Policy initiatives.

These four leverage points are reinforced by:

  • inclusive and equitable, continuous improvement culture,
  • multi-sector cooperation, and
  • partnerships.


Secondly, with regard to the review of policies on smart education, an analytical framework was identified, which takes into account historical, cultural, socioeconomic, political, and environmental factors. The analytical framework further identifies six interrelated and prominent themes that run through all policies, namely, infrastructure, digital education resources and platforms, curricula and pedagogy, skills and competencies, governance, and educational management. There are three implementation mechanisms to this framework:

  • Leadership, system strengthening & change management,
  • Partnerships, finance & resource mobilisation, and
  • Research, innovation & evaluation.


Thirdly, the indicators of smart education at country level serve as a thematic measure for Global Education Monitoring. This will emphasize the promotion of educational transformation through emerging technologies to achieve inclusive and equitable quality education. Smart education monitoring can be used as part of the global education monitoring or independently. Multiple dimensions can be considered when designing a national smart education monitoring program, such as input and process dimensions, as well as national, school, and teacher dimensions. In the future, an evaluation system and tools will be constructed to assess and monitor the development of digital transformation in education through different aspects such as teaching, learning, school management, and sector governance.


Fourthly, national public services for smart education mainly include information infrastructure, digital education resources, learning and teaching support, education information management, career planning and employment, teacher professional development, and other services. The national public services provider for smart education includes six roles of initiator, funder, builder, operator, evaluator, and supervisor. The public services for smart education could help to achieve educational equity, large-scale education, personalized learning, enhance the quality of education, and promote the realization of SDG 4 goals. In addition, providing national public services for smart education is one of the solutions to meet the needs of a country’s digital transformation of education.


Fifthly, there is a need for guidance of smart campus for future education due to the fact that emerging technologies such as 5G, WiFi6, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence are spreading into campuses. The future design of smart campuses need to highlight the following five characteristics:

  • Context awareness,
  • Seamless connectivity,
  • AI and big data enabled,
  • Open learning environment, and
  • Personalized service.

As a new generation learning environment, smart campus provides diversified smart education services for students and staff. According to the technical mode of providing services, smart campus can be divided into three types:

  • A cloud-based smart campus, which usually comes in small size with few support staff, low technical requirement, weak ICT infrastructure, and inadequate funding,
  • A well-equipped campus, which usually has a large size, sufficient support staff, high technical requirements, advanced ICT infrastructure, and adequate funding, and
  • Smart hybrid campus, which has the advantages of the previous two combined, and is becoming a new trend in future campus technology architecture.

With the gradual application of a new generation of information technology in smart campuses, the digital transformation of schools has increasingly become a new trend in future campus development. Many typical application cases have emerged in the process of smart campus construction, such as dual-teacher classroom, live classroom, smart classroom, intelligent assessment, virtual & simulation experiment, green campuses, and school administration.


In order to better promote the development of global smart education and effectively advance the digital transformation of education, the research team suggests five recommendations for the future development of smart education:

  1. Teachers, administrators, and stakeholders should recognize that smart education is critical for the strategical plan to transform education by digital technology and AI, and to accelerate SDG 4 Education 2030 Agenda for inclusive, equitable and quality education.
  2. Governments, according to their governing structures and specific conditions, should develop smart education from three key leverage points: transforming teaching and learning methods, building smart digital learning environments, and implementing forward-thinking policy. The overarching considerations of equity, continuous improvement, and multi-sector cooperation for the above leverage points should be fully considered.
  3. Policymakers are encouraged to review, analyze and rebuild policies on ICT in education from the policy themes of ICT infrastructure, digital education resources and platforms, curriculum and pedagogy, skills and competencies, governance, educational management and administration, toward smart education.
  4. Local authorities and school leaders are recommended to design and employ smart campus and new learning environments through effective learning, efficient schooling, adequate digital tools & resources, and innovative new model of learning and teaching that is monitored and enhanced by technology through personalized learning and differentiated teaching, at region and school levels.
  5. All relevant stakeholders are recommended to promote and reinforce their cooperation driven by smart education strategy to build public services of smart education, such as access to compulsory curriculum, learning and technical supports, and learning analytics in the large-scale learning platforms and open education practices across regions.


During the conference, the “Global Smarter Education Network” (GSENet) was officially launched aiming to establish an international smart education network of researchers, practitioners, technical experts and policy makers to support countries in rethinking and designing education systems at the national, regional and school levels.

The rapid development of big data and artificial intelligence has made an increasingly deep impact of technology on society. Adapting individuals and communities to the uncertain and complex future is an important issue in educational development. Moreover, smart technology contains huge potential for change, which needs to be transformed into an effective and practical way through smart education. Professor Ronghuai Huang said: “The world needs to conduct joint research and exploration on smart education, form strategies and solutions to reshape and innovate education, and establish an equal, inclusive and high-quality smart education to meet the diverse and personalized needs of everyone in the future.” The network is composed of Beijing Normal University, UNESCO Institute of Information Technology in Education (UNESCO IITE), Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO), Commonwealth of Learning (COL), International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and the Southeast Asian Ministries of Education Organization (SEAMEO). The Smart Learning Institute of Beijing Normal University serves as the secretariat of the network. The network will conduct consultations and discussions on the development of smart education in various countries, and promote the integration and innovation of the new generation of information technology and education.

In the future, the “Global Smart Education Network” will promote the deep integration of a new generation of information technology and education, and promote equal and inclusive high-quality education for all, lead the development of global smart education from the aspects of concepts, methods and systems, promote a balanced, equitable and high-quality development of education in various countries, respond to UNESCO’s “Future of Education” initiative to reach the SDG 4 targets.