University College in Abu Dhabi University (ADU) organized the 2nd General Education Conference (GEC) on the 27th and 28th October 2017 at Park Rotana Hotel, Abu Dhabi, UAE. The 2nd General Education conference on learning transformation was a platform to ponder upon the ways of institutionalizing innovation and sustainability in educational practices. The participation of researcher and presenters from around the globe helped the participants to learn from the best practices used elsewhere, ways to cope with the challenges of frequently changing demographics, advancement in technology, and economic challenges that leave tremendous impact in our practices of teaching and learning.
The conference also bridged the gap between the outer world and the world of academia, as the demands of the 21st century is to be creative and collaborative individuals with exploratory and inquiry based mindsets. Experts from 30 countries gathered to participate in the two days conference. The conference provided opportunities for the delegates to exchange new ideas, experiences and establish research relations to find partners for future collaboration.
The conference started at 9.00 with the welcome address by Dr. Waqar Ahmad, Provost and Interim Chancellor of Abu Dhabi University. He highlighted the relevance of the conference theme to the current trends of development in the field of general education and expressed his gratitude to all the participants for their valuable time and contribution to the conference. Further, the floor was passed on to the first keynote speaker, Dr. Wendy Murawski, Executive Director and Eisner Endowed Chair for the Center for Teaching and Learning at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). Dr. Wendy deliberated on “Transforming Learning through Personalization & Collaboration”, she emphasized on the importance of adapting educational provision to meet the needs and aspirations of individual learners. Her talk was enriched by some very relevant and good examples. This made her session very interactive and interesting resulting in the active engagement of participants. The participants had the privilege to know more about individualized learning, building independence through interaction, intervention, stimulation and collaboration.
This was followed by the address of Dr. Sreethi Nair, Dean, University College, ADU, who launched the conference and thanked all the participants. Later in the afternoon we had the next keynote speaker, Dr. Sangeeth Ibrahim, Vice President and Head of the Leaning and Development Division and Business Excellence at Sharjah Islamic Bank. Dr. Sangeeth emphasized on the importance of “Bridging the gap between academia and Industry”. Some of the key notes included the identification of the gap between education and employers’ expectations, and highlighted the areas of focus for improving the underlying quality of education using the interactive learning solutions. Insights on students teaming up with professionals to solve real-world problems in industry was also shared. A fundamental shift from traditional rote-repetition learning to one that promotes problem solving and application of knowledge which is required to help ease the path to gainful employment for the youth of tomorrow. He also emphasized the importance of teacher’s active participation in Industries.
The main theme of conference “Learning Transformation towards 21st Century Work Skills” made the conference interesting to delegates from a variety of different perspectives and approaches. The two-day conference offered a unique setting to consider a number of issues and trends in General Education, with a focus on the dynamic transformation in the world of higher education. These included but not limited to quality of teaching and learning, educational Leadership and management, digitalization of learning, bridging the gap between academia and the workplace, inclusion of special needs and gifted children, and learning communities of professionals. Many interesting and recently debated issues were presented by participants. A total of 61 delegates presented their work and it was good to see all the confirmed participants attending the conference and sharing their research work with the audience.