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The 7th International Conference on GCED: GCED in the Face of Digital Transformation that Connects and Divides

The 7th International Conference on GCED (IConGCED), co-organized by APCEIU, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea and in partnership with UNESCO, was held virtually for two days on 3-4 November 2022.


Under the overarching theme of GCED in the Face of Digital Transformation that Connects and Divides, the Conference provided a venue to discuss the changes brought by digital transformation and the future of education from the perspective of global citizenship education.


Over 3,000 education policymakers, educators, stakeholders from academia, international organizations and civil society organizations and youth members from around 100 countries attended the Conference. The Conference started with the Opening, moderated by Jeongmin Eom, Head of Research and Development, APCEIU, with a brief introduction of the context of the theme and the aims of the Conference, and the offering of a moment of silence to express condolences and solidarity over the tragic incident in South Korea that took place on 29 October 2022 and over all others around the world that lost lives and loved ones over all forms of violence or tragic disasters. 


The Opening Speeches from Sang-Yoon Jang, Vice-Minister of Education of the Republic of Korea, H.E. Sang-hwa Lee, Ambassador and Deputy Minister for Public Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, and Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education of UNESCO confirmed the importance of enhancing the capacity of digital literacy, especially the ability to critically analyze information and eradicate hate speech and urged GCED to take active roles in promoting tolerance and respect for diversity. 


H. E. Khondker Mohammad Talha, Ambassador of Permanent Delegation of Bangladesh to UNESCO congratulated the Conference, emphasizing digital transformation as the universal initiative with GCED to solve self destructing problems such as climate change, cybercrimes and unregulated new technologies. He strongly affirmed that the 1974 resolution must be updated and all stakeholders should cooperate to resolve problems with accountability. 


Finally, Hyun Mook Lim, Director of APCEIU, warmly welcomed the speakers and the audience to participate and enrich the discussion on how GCED can be implemented in this time of digital transformation and tackle emerging challenges. He also highlighted that it is timely that we discuss the Revision of the 1974 Recommendation during this Conference as GCED is anchored in this Recommendation and regarded as a 21st-century version of education for international understanding.


On the first day in the Moderated Conversation on the digital transformation and the future of GCED, Neil Selwyn, Professor of School of Education Culture & Society at Monash University of Australia, Shamah Bulangis, Co-chair of Transform Education hosted by UNGEI Philippines, and Elisa Guerra, Teacher and Founder of Colegio Valle de Filadelfia in Mexico as panels and Soon-Yong Pak, Professor of Yonsei University as a moderator discussed the overall impact of digital transformation, new issues emerging from the change, and the action plans for GCED to build just and safe future in response to those challenges. 


Positive aspects and opportunities of digital transformation were addressed while at the same time acknowledging the limitations such as still existing inequalities, the spread of hate speech in the digital space and lack of human interaction. Panelists emphasized the importance of the strategic utilization of technology to enhance GCED in the digital space and the need to promote universal access to digital technologies to reduce the digital divide.


In the following first Plenary SessionDylan Wray, Director of Center for Learning, Human Responsibility Accelerator moderated the discussion among Janice Richardson, International Advisor of Insight SA, Alton Grizzle, Programme Specialist of Section for Media and Information Literacy and Media Development at UNESCO, Peck Cho, Chair-Professor of Korea University’s Institute of General Education, and Lisa van Wyk, Global Communications Manager of World Wide Web Foundation, regarding major challenges that GCED faces in the digital era and the current education trend. Janice Richardson stressed that  “connection, content, and behavior are at risk when it comes to global citizenship education and functional, digital, media Information, and socio-emotional literacy can turn those risks into opportunities”. 


Alton Grizzle argued that controlling and managing the influx of information is necessary, which is why it is crucial to take action to put MIL at the center of all levels of education. Peck Cho pointed out that COVID-19 not only exposed the danger of the digital divide between the haves and have-nots but also the divide between students’ thinking and feeling. As online classrooms are not effective in engaging students emotionally as much as conducting cognitive activities, there are limitations on the development of creativity and citizenship in students. Therefore, he suggested that all educators should design not only curriculum content but educational experiences in order to connect the cognitive and affective domains.


During the Concurrent Sessions, which were divided into three sessions, participants shared ideas and good practices on how GCED should address different types of emerging issues in the digital world and contribute to building up digital citizenship. In Session 1.1, participants addressed issues emerging in the digital age, such as the digital divide and the polarization of information. In Session 1.2, participants shared best practices on how efforts are being made by UNESCO or civil society to foster digital citizenship and media and information literacy (MIL). In the Special Concurrent Session, APCEIU’s youth project “Street Dialogue” was introduced as best practice. The youths from various countries participating in the project shared their thoughts and conversations on global issues with citizens in their respective communities and streets. The session provided a room for the youths as global citizens who actively participated in the civic dialogue to share their experiences.


The second day began with the second Concurrent Sessions sharing lessons learnt from previous experiences while implementing global citizenship education and discussing ways to keep the important values of global citizenship education against the emerging risks in the digital era.


In Session 2.1, which was moderated by Neil Selwyn, Professor of School of Education Culture & Society at Monash University of Australia, Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela, Director of Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Secretariat, Marco Pasqualini, Education Programme Specialist of UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States, Phinith Chanthalangsy, Unit Head of Social and Human Sciences Sector of UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa, and Md Walid Bin Quashem, First Secretary of Permanent Delegation of Bangladesh to UNESCO suggested what policies should be made to overcome education-related problems that emerged in the digital era, such as the digital gap that has been widened due to COVID-19 and the lack of teachers' capacities in information and communication technology (ICT), and how global citizenship education should be conducted to attract learners' participation in a digitalized environment.


In Session 2.2,  moderated by Shamah Bulangis, Co-chair of Transform Education hosted by UNGEI Philippines, Dylan Wray, Director of Center for Learning, Human Responsibility Accelerator, Rowena Hibanada, Director of Community Partnership and Extension Office at Philippine Normal University in the Philippines, and Jihong Lee, Head of Office of Education and Training at APCEIU discussed curriculum, pedagogy, and practice that utilized possibilities provided by the digital era. Panelists introduced online platforms that can effectively train youth using digital technology, shared the case of how APCEIU’s GCED Curriculum Development and Integration Project took place in the Philippines despite the difficulties arising from the pandemic and introduced GCED online campus that enabled the implementation of GCED during the pandemic.


Session 2.3 was moderated by Esther Care, Professorial Fellow of Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne in Australia, and Roshan Bajracharya, Senior Regional Advisor for Asia and the Pacific of UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), Ralph Carstens, Senior Research Advisor of International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), Rachel Parker, Senior Research Fellow of Education and Development at Australian Council for Education Research (ACER), Hwanbo Park, Associate Professor of Department of Education at Chungnam National University and Daehoon Jho, Professor of Department of Social Studies Education at Sungshin Women’s University as panelists discussed GCED monitoring strategies for effective implementation of SDG 4.7. Professor Hwanbo Park and Daehoon Jho introduced APCEIU’s GCED monitoring research project and shared how the monitoring system has been developed that is in line with the global indicator (SDG 4.7.1) and simultaneously reflects the Korean context and feasibility.


In the second Plenary Session, the moderators from each of the Concurrent Sessions 2 presented key ideas discussed in the previous Concurrent Sessions and concluded with recommendations for the effective implementation of GCED in various areas in the face of digital transformation and beyond. During the Session, questions were posed to the panelists and the audience about enhancing GCED in the areas of ‘Policy and advocacy’, ‘Curriculum, pedagogy and practice’, and ‘Monitoring’: ‘What actors other than teachers need to be involved in GCED?’, ‘How to move the current face-to-face teaching to online?’, ‘What are the implications of digital monitoring?’.


The Conference concluded with a Special Session, sharing the background and progress on the revision of the 1974 Recommendation concerning Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Peace and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and discussing the key issues regarding the Recommendation.


Although the 7th IConGCED was held online through the Online Conference website and YouTube due to COVID-19, it received positive reviews for providing a venue for various participants from different countries to examine the role of GCED in the era of digital transformation.