The Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and Times Higher Education are co-organizing Digital Universities Europe, one of the most prestigious digital higher education event in Europe. The event, which will take place in Barcelona from 23 to 25 October and is titled “The road to digital, equitable and green higher education”, will be attended by more than 70 speakers, including chief digital officers from universities, tech companies and governmental and non-governmental organizations.
Higher education institutions across Europe are facing major challenges, including the need to undergo a digital transformation in order to better serve their students, staff and society. According to the experts, their success depends on increasing partnerships between organizations that generate impact on a large scale.
Àngels Fitó, president of the UOC, believes that “Digital Universities Europe provides a perfect framework for sharing practices and experiences relating to the digitalization of higher education. It’s an opportunity to move forward together towards European higher education that is inclusive, high quality and transformative for people, organizations and the world.” Fitó also said: “This is a perfect stage on which to plan steps forward that help us to educate critical and responsible citizens capable of bringing about the digital and green transition and tackling urgent challenges that affect our progress, sustainability and social well-being.”
Meanwhile, Charlotte Coles, Director of global events at Times Higher Education, believes that “Digital Universities Europe will be Times Higher Education’s premier event for the European digital higher education community. The collaboration with Universitat Oberta de Catalunya will provide ample opportunity for higher education leaders to forge new connections and discuss what future sustainable models of digital education will look like for institutions across the continent”.
Digital transformation in higher education
The speakers will discuss the challenges facing society and the imminent transformation of the labour market, which calls for new skills and an agile, equitable and greener higher education system that can evolve and adapt to changing times.
Oliver Günther, president of the University of Potsdam (Germany) and one of the speakers, will be discussing the role that digital technology is playing in the internationalization of higher education in Europe. Lourdes Guàrdia Ortiz, acting dean of the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences at the UOC, will be explaining how digital assessment can improve students’ performance; and Albert Sangrà, director of the UNESCO Chair in Education and Technology for Social Change, will be talking about the lessons learned from the online university model.
European chief digital officers from Skema Business School (France), the University of Bern (Switzerland), the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) and the University of Tartu (Estonia) will be discussing how the roles of technology managers are evolving as higher education undergoes a digital transformation. There will also be an exploratory case study examining the analytics of learning in higher education, and the need to strike a balance between pedagogy and privacy.
Thirty sessions are scheduled, including keynote speeches, seminars, workshops, networking opportunities and innovative digital exhibits. The speakers include Paz Portales, programme coordinator for higher education at UNESCO; Josep M. Duart, president of EDEN Digital Learning Europe and a member of the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences at the UOC; Lluís Alfonso Ariño Marín, chief information officer at Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), and Antonis Mouhtaropoulos, dean of digital learning and edtech at the Metropolitan College in Greece. Anna Armengol Torío, the president of UOC Alumni; George Ubachs, managing director of the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities, and Raimund Vogl, president of the European University Information Systems network, are other top speakers from governmental and non-governmental organizations.
The UOC offers graduate and postgraduate programs in Catalan, Spanish and English in fields such as Psychology, Computer Science, Sciences of Education, Information and Knowledge Society, and Economics. Also, an Information and Knowledge Society Doctoral Program is available that explores research fields such as e-law, e-learning, network society, education, and online communities. It has support centers in a number of cities in Spain, Andorra, Mexico and Colombia.
The UOC is also a parent institution of Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (IBEI).