Leaders of Graduate Schools Recommend Active Role in Facing Promises, Challenges of Technology

October 4, 2013

Participants in the 2013 Strategic Leaders Global Summit on Graduate Education urged faculty and administrators to become active agents in taking advantage of the opportunities as well as facing the challenges of new technologies in graduate education. They put forward a set of principles for graduate institutions to consider when making decisions about technology-enabled tools in education and research. The three-day summit, held Sept. 30-Oct. 2, which brought delegates from 14 countries on five continents, was organized under the auspices of the US Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) and was co-hosted by CEU and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The Summit was co-chaired by Debra Stewart, president of CGS, and Liviu Matei, senior vice president of CEU.

 “This is the first time that a Strategic Leaders Global Summit on Graduate Education has been held in Central and Eastern Europe,” Matei said at the opening of the summit. “Graduate education is very much a work in progress in this part of the world. It faces both high expectations and significant challenges. This year's summit topic is a timely one for this region, and indeed globally, as students, faculty members, administrators and policy makers are feverishly trying to come to grips with the promises of technology in graduate education, and to figure out how to take advantage of remarkable technological progress in order to meet traditional and emerging new challenges and expectations.”

CGS’ Stewart outlined the conclusions at the press conference following the summit.

“There was a strong consensus that the technological transformations that have happened and will happen at an even more rapid pace going forward have the potential of doing enormous good in enhancing our ability to prepare students to be leading professionals of the future,” she said. “But we can’t make this technology’s job alone. As leaders of graduate institutions, we must be active agents in finding ways to take advantage of all the opportunities technology offers us and utilize it in very practical and real ways.”

Photo: CEU/Daniel Vegel

The set of summit principles, compiled and agreed upon by delegates during the closing session, echoed this consensus, starting with a commitment to employ technology to advance specific academic or administrative goals. The group also agreed to identify and enhance strategies for using social media, webcasting and other technologies to attract, recruit and engage students and to engage the university community in all dimensions of graduate education as well as to actively use such technologies to disseminate information and knowledge beyond the university.

Next, the strategic leaders group agreed to make efforts to influence the development of technologies for tracking student progress, completion, career outcomes and research outputs. They also agreed to design and implement effective ways to expand access to research and scholarship to the various communities served by graduate institutions.

The group’s other principles were specific to the use of new technologies for learning and online education platforms.

At the press conference, leaders reiterated the importance of balance and innovation in the use of online tools and classroom teaching.

“First we have to lead, not follow the technology,” said Jozsef Palinkas, president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. “The second message [of the conference] is that we have to find the right balance between the new ways technology offers in graduate education and traditional teaching.”

CEU President and Rector John Shattuck stressed the importance of not relying overly on technological solutions.

“Technology allows us to engage with partners in distance learning, but the common community created in an international university has to be a social reality as much as a virtual reality,” Shattuck said.

Participants in the summit included deans and other leaders of graduate schools and representatives of national and international associations devoted to graduate education. Along with Hungary and the U.S., the countries represented were Australia, Brazil, Canada, China (PRC, Hong Kong), Germany, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa and South Korea.

The Principles for Supporting Productive Uses of Technology in Graduate Education and Research, adopted by conference delegates, can be downloaded below.