IGF 2020 WS #132 Inclusion Challenges and Solutions for Fair Online Education

Time
Wednesday, 11th November, 2020 (09:40 UTC) - Wednesday, 11th November, 2020 (11:10 UTC)
Room
Room 2
About this Session
With the development of advanced network and online resources, more and more people have benefited from online education programs. Contrary to what many believe, some students who have internet connections only have poor connections. Public schools that operate educational programs available only through high-speed internet connections are not truly accessible. The demand for bandwidth of online education becomes more urgent when people have to study from home during public emergencies.
Thematic Track

Organizer 1: Yang Yang, Shanghaitech University
Organizer 2: Xiaohu Ge, Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Organizer 3: Yang Liu, The University of Sheffield
Organizer 4: CHANG LIU, China Association for Science and Technology

Speaker 1: Yang Yang, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Radomir Bolgov, Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Speaker 3: Ines Hfaiedh, Government, African Group
Speaker 4: Mikhail Komarov, Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Speaker 5: Elsa Estevez, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Additional Speakers

Unfortunately,  Prof. Radomir Bolgov and Ms. Ines Hfaiedh will not be able to attend due to his personal reasons. 
Prof. Radomir Bolgov (Eastern European Group) and Ms. Ines Hfaiedh will be removed from the speaker list of Workshop IGF 2020 WS #132.
We will allocate the saved time to other four speakers and Q&A.
We have another speaker (Prof. Mikhail Komarov) from Eastern European Group to ensure the diversity of regions.

Allow me to apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Moderator

Xiaohu Ge, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator

Yang Liu, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Rapporteur

CHANG LIU, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group

Format

Panel - Auditorium - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

Policy questions include: 1) Why fair online education is essential to be taken seriously by the international community and what is the bottleneck to solve this problem? 2) Who/ which stakeholder is primarily responsible for fair online education? 3) To what extent can poor internet connections reduce the quality and fair in online education? 4) What is the role of each stakeholder, including educators, civil society, network providers, and students themselves, in reducing inequalities in online education? 5) How to promote the cooperation between stakeholders to improve the quality and fair of online education over poorly connected networks and what unique contribution could be made by stakeholders? 6) What is important in ensuring online education quality over poor connected networks?

Due to the rapid growth of pandemic cases in this emergency, many people have to study from home over information networks. Poor internet connection causes inequalities in education, which require more efficient and inclusive solutions to reduce when facing these kinds of accidents. Traditionally, much of education inequalities are usually attributed to economic disparities and often fall along racial lines. Unlike traditional issues, the inequalities in online education attribute to many other factors, such as physical living areas, network resource allocation, network providers, and neighbors who competing for bandwidth. Therefore, it has become important to find inclusive solutions for fair online education over poorly-connected networks to reduce the inequalities. However, new problems have also been created, such as the inadequacy of network infrastructure and platform, internet traffic management, information sharing, and the competition between network providers. This workshop will explore the potential solutions of reducing inequalities in online education over poorly connected networks.

SDGs

GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities

Description:

With the development of advanced network and online education resources, more and more people have benefited from online education programs, especially for the disabled and the people who lack educational resources. Online education requires high-speed internet connections. Contrary to what many believe, some students who have internet connections only have poor connections. Public schools that operate educational programs available only through high-speed internet connections are not truly accessible. Any virtual education program that operates in a public school has a responsibility to make the program available to students who don't have the bandwidth to make participation in the online programs reasonable. The demand for bandwidth of online education becomes more urgent when people have to study from home during public emergencies. For example, because of COVID-19, many schools and companies are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. That means many people have suddenly had to adjust to telecommuting while millions of children had to participate in online education programs from home. Across the globe more than 1.5 billion students, or more than 90% of the world's learners, are stuck at home due to school closures in about 190 countries, according to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimates. Coronavirus places greater demand on networks as families stay indoors. The greater network demand brings challenges to fair online education over poorly-connected networks, which inescapably leads to unequal distribution of educational and digital learning resources, such as books, and qualified and experienced teachers. As a result, this unequal distribution leads to education inequalities for the users over poorly-connected networks. The increase of international cooperation and the development of new technologies, such as AI, 5G, and advanced network infrastructures, provide innovations and opportunities to guarantee the network bandwidth required by online education. Thus, this is the right time to discuss the issues of fair online education. This workshop will explore the challenges of ensuring online education equality and reducing the inequalities of online education, and consider the potential solutions for fair online education.

Expected Outcomes

1. Present key solutions to improve network performance for poorly-connected users, and improve the quality of poor-connected online education. 2. Promote cooperation and communication between multi-stakeholders, such as educational institutions, students, and network providers. Develop a consensus on the best practices needed to reconcile the advantages of the multi-stakeholders with the fair online education. 3. Reach common understanding on the ways to improve the connectivity to unconnected people through more efficient and reasonable network resource deployment schemes. 4. Define a follow-up action plan and come out with a principle and guideline of inclusive solutions to reducing the education inequities over poorly connected networks. The inclusive solutions will be summarized and published on the blogs of the organizers, and serve as the building block of additional meetings in the private sector, civil society, and governmental comment periods.

All experts and audience will make comments and raise questions in regards to the speeches presented, guided by the moderator. The session will consist of a series of discussions. 1) Preliminary survey: Before the workshop, targeting on fair online education over different networks, we will survey with a series of questions which are designed for discussion during the workshop to support first-hand and data to workshop discussion. 2) Warm-up discussion forum: we will hold a forum on Fair Online Education over poorly connected networks with the stakeholders together. During the forum, sub-topics including the online education resource allocation will be discussed by relevant experts, which will provide professional knowledge and support to the workshop. 3) Story-Telling Session: This special session is designed to allow online and onsite audiences with different backgrounds to have a voice in this issue and to take their perspective into full consideration. 4) Question and Open discussion: During the workshop, two rounds of question and open discussion are designed to encourage every participant to share their views and make a contribution to the issue. 5) Audio-visual material: Organizers will explore the use of visuals (i.e. videos, PowerPoint slides, images, infographics) not only for presentation, but also throughout the workshop to animate the session and aid those whose native language may not be English.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The rapid proliferation of information and communications technology (ICT) is an unstoppable force changing the world order and shaping everyday life. The development of technology and the birth of many emerging applications have put forward new requirements for existing computer networks. Quality education sits in the front and centre of economic opportunities, technological innovation, social progress, and sustainable developments. Fair online education provides great benefits for the equality of education, especially for the disabled and the people who lack educational resources. However, the difference between networks introduces the inequality of fair online educations. Getting the policy right around the governance on information networks is essential to safeguard quality online education and reducing inequality. Considerations around network governance should be built starting from commonly shared global values and principles, developed in collaboration with all stakeholders. This workshop will look at what policy elements are necessary to maintain and expand network resource allocation. It will also aim to identify and provide options for a policy response to the main challenges posed. Its correct and neutral operation is crucial to the equality and accessibility of the education resources, especially for the users with poorly connected networks. It needs serious consensus among stakeholders on the governance model. From a procedural standpoint, the collaborative dialogue among those stakeholder groups around the topic in question can yield better results if it follows some widely recognized principles that can ensure open, transparent and accountable, inclusive and equitable activities. With that spirit in mind, as the IGF is the main focal point for Internet governance discussion worldwide, this workshop intends to discuss inclusive solutions for the equality of fair online education over poorly connected networks through the substantial examples at the global forum to build some good governance models.

Relevance to Theme: The workshop is directly related to the theme and subtheme of IGF 2020, respectively. It is highly relevant as limited network capabilities are seriously impacting the equalities of online education. The workshop seeks to get to the heart of one crucial aspect of online education inclusion: How to ensure the equality and quality of online education, particularly for the users with poorly connected networks when a public emergency breaks out. Increased Internet connectivity has allowed more and more people to study from home. In the low- and middle-income countries, online education is usually perceived as a good chance to obtain abundant education resources in developed countries, which would overcome pervasive unemployment and derive new sources of income for qualified populations. Quality and equality of the online education, however, remain many challenges as discussed above. The workshop seeks to promote cooperation and communication between educational institutions, students, and network providers, and present key solutions to improve network performance for poorly-connected users, and improve the quality of poor-connected online education.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: There will be an official #hashtag associated to the workshop and all participants will be encouraged to use it on social media (Twitter/Facebook/Wechat). The online moderator will keep an eye on remote participants on the IGF online participation platform and also on social media platforms, sharing comments posted with the official hashtag and giving remote participants the opportunity to ask questions during the session.

 

1. Key Policy Questions and related issues
1) What are the challenges of fair online education, and inclusive solutions?
2) Why fair online education is essential to be taken seriously by the international community and what is the bottleneck to solve this problem?
3) How to ensure the engagement of vulnerable groups - people with disabilities, migrants,
refugees and ethnic minorities?
2. Summary of Issues Discussed

There was broad support for the view that online education is a huge opportunity for development. There is a need to invest in capacity – infrastructure, human resources, policies, guidelines. There is a need to adopt new pedagogical models and develop new curricula. It is important to find inclusive solutions for fair online education, especially at the time of COVID-19 pandemics. Panellists also agreed that due to the rapid growth of pandemic cases in this emergency, many people have to study from home over information networks. Especially, challenges of fair online education are well identified. Moreover, they agreed that poor internet connection, lack of Technological resources (e.g., laptops), noisy environment and human capital, vulnerable groups could cause inequalities in education, which require more efficient and inclusive solutions to reduce when facing these kinds of accidents. Further discussions are needed on the detailed description for the implementation of fair online education at the operational level.

3. Key Takeaways

This session reached a consensus that quality education sits in the front and centre of economic opportunities, technological innovation, social progress, and sustainable developments. Fair online education provides great benefits for the equality of education, especially for vulnerable groups and the people who lack educational resources.

The key takeaways are as follow:

1 Reach common understanding on the ways to improve the connectivity to unconnected people through more efficient and reasonable network resource deployment schemes, such as improving network coverage, and technological resources, and the quality of human capital.

2. Present key solutions to leverage on the opportunities and needs of building different capacities and on the existing technologies and tools, such as adopting new pedagogical resources, and promoting forum discussions and other activities encouraging peer-to-peer learning.

3. Define a follow-up action plan and come out with a principle and guideline of inclusive solutions to reduce the inequities in online education.

6. Final Speakers

Speaker 1: Yang Yang, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Mikhail Komarov, Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Speaker 3: Elsa Estevez, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 4: Xiaohu Ge,Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group

7. Reflection to Gender Issues

The issues discussed in this workshop are concerning everyone involved in online education, including students and their parents, teachers, government employees, school staffs and so on. The discussion did not directly address issues related to gender equality and/or women’s empowerment. Recommendations were put forward on how to find effective methods to handle possible gaps caused by disabilities, gender, and inequality in online education, as well as how to make online education inclusion and equality.

8. Session Outputs
9. Group Photo
IGF 2020 WS #132 Inclusion Challenges and Solutions for Fair Online Education
10. Voluntary Commitment

Prof. Yang Yang will work together with other partners such as civil society organizations, government agencies in China, to create more awareness in all communities about fair online education.