Creative and innovative challenges in education worldwide amidst the COVID-19 Crisis were in focus at the Global Online Conference organized by the UNESCO Chairs of the University of Jyväskylä and Council for Creative Education, Finland. The goal of the event was to celebrate the United Nations’ World Creativity and Innovation Day on 21 April 2020. The online educational conference attracted 12,220 unique visitors from more than 60 countries, across five continents.
The response to the online conference exceeded all expectations.
The online live conference was streamed through various social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and CCE’s website simultaneously around the world. This resulted in more than 12,200 unique platform visits from 64 countries across the globe.
“I am very glad that my colleagues found this innovative way to organize this global conference during a time when the entire world is essentially closed down. The positive feedback encourages us to develop the digital conference concept further”, tells UNESCO Chair on Digital Platforms for Transforming Economies, Professor Pekka Neittaanmäki.
“Online mediation of knowledge works very well with these types of conferences. Not only in exceptional situations, like COVID-19, but we need to consider online conferences for the future. We can save time and resources by having meetings organized this way. It makes it possible to have unlimited number of participants, who would not have the opportunity to participate if we had organized the conference in a traditional way”, explains UNESCO Chair on Inclusive Literacy Learning for All, Professor Heikki Lyytinen.
The keynote speakers, UNESCO Professors Pekka Neittaanmäki and Heikki Lyytinen from University of Jyväskylä kicked off the conference with talks on educational innovations, which play a key role during critical times, like the COVID-19 crisis. The conference brought together several internationally renowned researchers and experts in educational innovation from both Finland and around the world.
Will we have Renaissance of schools after the pandemic?
As a member of the coordination team, researcher of the Finnish Institute for Educational Research, Kristóf Fenyvesi says: “We received important contributions even during the online meeting. Reidun Twarock, the world’s most renowned expert of mathematical virology introduced the structure of viruses and the impact of her team’s findings on everyday education and fine arts. We had teachers from lockdown areas, like Luisa Lenta from Italy, or Zhao Yuqian, distance learning specialist, who is working with children in the center of the epidemic in the Hubei Province, China. Researchers of educational creativity, Professor Pamela Burnard from University of Cambridge, UK, and Dr. Anne Harris from RMIT, Melbourne contributed significantly to the event.”
Further participants from Austria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Romania, Taiwan and USA discussed topics including the challenges of distance learning, the creative and innovative potential of STEAM education during crises, and issues related to health, well-being and learning in critical situations.
At the conclusion of the conference, Professor Jim Friedman, the Chief Steward of World Creativity & Innovation Week conveyed a message on the critical role of finding innovative ways to reach each other across many nations in time of COVID-19.
A member of the coordination team Matti Savonen from the Faculty of Information Technology at the University of Jyväskylä: “Originally the conference was intended to take place in Jyväskylä as a multi-day event. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic became a global crisis we had to come up with a solution that would allow us to avoid cancelling. Fortunately, CCE had the technical systems already in place that allowed us to change our plans and quickly inform the participants of the switch to an online based conference. The physical event has therefore not been cancelled, but rather it has been postponed and the online conference serves as a great stepping-stone for the upcoming event. Currently, the event is planned to be held in November.”
Shirin and Heramb Kulkarni and Bora Nam in CCE’s coordinators’ team emphasized the massive response to the event: “The tremendous number of live stream visitors were super encouraging for us. Just after the conference, the total watch and playback time within a day has climbed to 2160 hours! This shows the significance of empowerment and interest of educators, maybe more than ever in these critical days.”
As Michael Acerra, the head of the LUX BLOX educational innovation enterprise reminded in the panel discussions, “The Italian Renaissance came out of the Black Plague. It is interesting how much creative explosion comes from the disruption of pandemics. We must restructure all school environments to cultivate, recognize and value creativity and innovation better.”
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