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IGF 2020 - Day 7 - WS107&248 Educational Opportunities & Challenges in Times of Crisis

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the virtual Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), from 2 to 17 November 2020. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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>> THIAGO MORAES: Hello, everyone.  I'm very happy to host this session, moderate this session with IGF 2020, its name, as you see on the screen, Educational Opportunities & Challenges in Times of Crisis.  This session is a joint effort of several organizations, and before presenting today's schedule, I would like to thank the effort of the IGF organization on assisting us during all of the preparations for this session, as well as Mariane who is assisting us as online moderator and the Rapporteur of this session.

The goal of this meeting is to debate and reflect on the impact of the current pandemic on educational sector.  With the crisis, many communities around the globe have needed to move teaching and learning to online environments and transition has not been smooth as one would desire.

According to UNESCO school closures negatively impacted student learning outcomes.  The digital divide is a big concern.  Lack of access to technology and to the educational resources can prevent students, particularly in rural areas or from disadvantaged or low‑economic status families to benefit from online education.  Although the use of distance learning programs in open educational resource and platforms can mitigate the disruption of the education, other problems may be intensified such as hacking and cybercrime.

On this session, we aim to find some answers for three issues.  First, what impact the COVID‑19 crisis will have on education and what will be the long‑term consequence for the effected restrictions with the adoption of community and the public at large.

Second, has this digital transformation to the education sector worsened the quality and polarization in our societies?  Third, what digital strategies and policies should be implemented to mitigate the negative impacts.

To answer these questions we brought today amazing specialists from different regions that will share their experiences in tackling this challenge.  Our agenda will proceed as follows:  First of all, we'll listen to Mr. Alfredo Calderon presenting from Puerto Rico A3‑time fellow, mentor and coach and volunteer on the ICANN fellowship selection Committee.  He's served as an academic program coordination for the North American School of Internet governance, currently he's cofounder of the School of Internet governance and selves as a second three‑year term as a member of the Board of Directors of the Internet Society.

Next we'll hear from Gloria Alaneme on the realities of Nigeria, a lecturer and online facilitator in the Department of Accounting and business administration, distance learning institute at University of Lagos.  Having worked in the united bank for Africa and women any Gloria, before joining the service of the University in 2007.  She specializes in strategic management with a focus on knowledge management and competitive advantage and has over the years conducted research in business administration and the partnership management and distance education.

Our third case study will be presented by Sona Baghiyan, giving us the experience from Armenia.  She has a keen interest in human computer interaction and believes in the importance of keeping values along with technological and scientific advancement.  She has recently undertaken a digital education research project aimed at exploring online environments and identifying digital tools and platforms, most suitable to the needs of the Armenia education community.  Moving on, we'll listen to Dr. Tel Amiel, raising issues on surveillance during the pandemic, he's a professor from the University of Brazil where he coordinates the UNESCO Chair in distance education.  He's a professor at the University as well in master and leadership and open education.  He was coordination of the UNESCO Chair in open education where he worked as a research coordinator.  He conducts research in public education and teacher training with the intersection between open education and educational technology.

Last but not least, Mr. Glenn McKnight will tell us about the School of Internet governance experience, the virtual school, he comes from Canada and was active in capacity building and training in the opensource community build environment and schools of internet governance.  He has a passion to share his experience with the good, the bad and the ugly.

As you can see, we have a full and diverse team of experts with us today and we'll learn a lot.  Don't worry, after the presentations, we'll have a few minutes to hear from our audience on any questions and also your opinions so anything that you may want to share with us on the topic in hand.  Without further ado, I would like to give the floor to Alfredo Calderon.

>> ALFREDO CALDERON: Thank you for that introduction and wonderful initial comments on what we're going to be covering.

As you can see, I'm going to talk a little bit about what happened in Puerto Rico due to COVID‑19 and what the government and especially the Department of Education has done.  In order do that, let me give you some background information, Puerto Rico is an island in the Caribbean with about 3.2 million habitants, it is 11,870 kilometers square, with 78 municipalities and in terms of the K to 12 student population, it has around 280,000 students.  But besides that, at the University level, from bachelor's to PhD and post‑doc, we have close to 2,000 students as well.  From sinkholes from K through 12, we have 856 schools and 30,000 teachers from K through 12:00.

Having said that, we can also share with you the distribution, how the island has it municipalities as I mentioned, 78, it has 7 regions that are called educational system regions so you can see that there are distributed as you see, including these small islands at the left ‑‑ at the right lower side.

Besides that, I need to give you sort of background information regarding what happened before COVID‑19 because here in Puerto Rico, we had a special situation.  On Monday, January 5, we had a 5.8 earthquake.  On the next day, early in the morning, we had a 6.4 magnitude earthquake.  Now, due to that, schools couldn't begin as was scheduled on January 12th of this year.  You can see some of the structures that were impacted, and most people in the southern part of the island especially decided to sleep outside their structure, their home, because they were not secure.

After that, the government started inspecting all the schools and the structures to see if we could go back to normality, and then on March 13 we started getting all of the news about COVID and the government decided to go to a full lockdown.  On March 16 we had a full lockdown and we had a curfew.  No public, private organizations were working here in the island for a few months.

Having said that, what happened last semester?  Last semester the government, especially the Department of Education found out that students and teachers didn't have the adequate equipment, technological equipment to have distance learning or relearning available.  They decided last semester, when I say last semester, I'm talking about March to May of 2020, they decided to lend devices to students.  They had some tablets and some laptops and they gave out 130,000 devices loaned to students and teachers.  They also decided to give teacher some training on teaching online, keeping in mind that at that time only high school students could take one course online if they went through a process and were adequately prepared to take an online course.

What happened?  Because of the delay in the equipment, due to the lack of training of teachers of online teaching, all students were promoted.  On May 30th, all students were promoted even though they didn't have the adequate academic content or performed accordingly.

What happened during August of this year, 2020 to 2021?  First of all, the Department of Education decided to use the public television system to offer courses to high school students, students from grade 9 through 12 were able to take some courses using the public broadcasting service and a special channel that we rehabilitated.

Also students from high school were able to take some courses using a learning management system which is in this case Moodle, but only high school students.  For the other group of students, especially those from K to 8th grade, the Department of Education and the government in order to keep teaching, They decided to use a videoconferencing system.  That was part of the summer training that most teaches had to learn how to use Microsoft teams which was the platform that the Department of Education had available for a few years and was not using to teach combined, they were just using it for organizational and administrative issues or meetings and so forth.

Finally, they decided to use models that parents had to go to the school, pick up, take home, sit down with their kids, review the material and then go become to school, turn them in to the teachers that were imparting the courses.  That was also a challenge.

If you recall, I told you that students from high school, 9 through 12 could take online courses and then there was another issue, the issue was the internet access.  Not all students, because we were not prepared for having such a long time without imparting face‑to‑face teaching in a classroom, there wasn't a census to measure how many students or determine how many students actually had internet access.  What happened, when school started in August, in October they did a census and asked internet provider for a discount for teachers and students to have internet access at a lower cost.  The result was, using funds that the government received from the federal government through the CARES Act, they gave each student or teacher a voucher, a subsidy of $400 through October to May to have an unlimited data plan to so that they could import their courses using that service.

The other issue, it was ‑‑ and I mention this as well, not all students had devices so besides the 100,000 devices that were given out to students and teachers, the Department of Education gave out vouchers to those going to University for the first time, they gave out $1,000 vouchers for first year University students.  You see the advertising and announcement that the Department of Education did to get people involved.  The thing is, although they gave out these vouchers, only 30% of the students that had the vouchers used them.

The other issue that came up, the way teachers were teaching online, using videoconferencing, using the online management system that they had, it didn't take into account these three aspects, child's ages, the computer literacy that they had ‑‑ I say they had, I'm talking about teaches, students, even the parents ‑‑ and then all teaches that were teaching online assumed that all disciplines could be taught using a learning management system or platform and deliver the content online.

Finally, the parent or guardians didn't have a support system so they learned that they had lack of skills using technology and they decided to give special webinars to parents and guardians but keep in mind they didn't have access to internet so they had to use TV space as well and they tried to use Microsoft 365 and the Microsoft Teams platform do that.

The other difficulty they found was that some parents had to go to work and they were unable to supervise the teaching and learning process because after the pandemic started, about four months down the road, the government started opening partially and people had to go back to work, but students were still not in the classroom.  Who would supervise them in the teaching, learning process?  They also needed to provide some sort of assistance to aid them, the students, and they hired more staff, and there you see some of the initiatives that the Department of Education locally did.

Concluding remarks, and this is just the start of the discussion when we go in the Q&A, online and blended learning will increase substantially post‑COVID‑19 is my impression.  We need more support for instructors, that's essentially if we want quality online learning.  We know how to do quality online learning and blended learning in higher education, but we can also learn from emergency learning online, which is what happened with the COVID‑19.

We were not prepared with the processes and infrastructure in place to do that from day one.

COVID‑19 did something positive, it showed the need for students learning online, evaluating the performance the traditional way, COVID‑19 also resulted in innovative teaching but the thing is, and this is a question that I'm launching to each one of you, will it stick?  Will we keep innovating when we teach?  The other remarks I want to make and let other people comment and speak on these issues, we're beginning to see the advantage of using multimedia and open educational resources for teaching and learning.  Are we going to implement them throughout the system or is that really up to each one of the instructors or teaches.

There's something that I'm bored a little bit about, it has to do with we need more attention to online access and we'll be speaking on that as well.  We need more flexible learning spaces.  It doesn't really have to be just a learning management system for a platform to teach, there has to be other way, other spaces, other strategies we can use and there is lessons learned for administrators that are the ones that give certain instructions to all of us and finally we need more and better data to evaluate what our student population from K through 12 at University level needs in order to have an adequate education system in place especially when we have these emergencies.  Those are my initial remarks and I will give back the floor.

>> THIAGO MORAES: Thank you for that brief, but deep overview of what's been going on in Puerto Rico.

Before moving on, I would like to remember, this is an interactive session, please, if you have any questions, anything for the next speaker, use the Q&A chat and even the other chat, we will be gathering all of the questions so after we can move to the second part of this meeting.

Were the challenges the same or different in other parts of the world?  We'll listen now to Dr. Gloria Alaneme who will bring us a bit of the reality in what happened in Nigeria.

Gloria, the room is yours.

>> GLORIA ALANEME: Good afternoon, everyone.  Good afternoon, everyone.  I'm talking about learning, online learning in the Nigeria experience and I'm going to be looking from different COVID periods and probably the way forward.  By the way, in Nigeria, it is a country in the West Africa region and we're a population of 200 million people and we have an estimated number of students, about 40 million that cuts across primary to tertiary institutions.  Now, eLearning, online learning, I want to make a clarification so that we understand what we're talking about.

eLearning, like I said, it is powered by digital technology while online learning could be partly or solely ‑‑ poured through the internet, but for me, the forms of learning, it is distance learning, which I'll be centralizing on.  We know that there were challenges of access to the tertiary institutions essentially.  Now for Nigeria, its policy, access to education is free, every child has the right to have equal educational opportunities, not minding if they're disabled or not but for everyone each according to his or her ability.  There is also equal access for everybody to educational opportunities, all citizens, that's including the old and the young, everybody has that access to education.  Like I said, if we do know, while there isn't time, we have ‑‑ we have been called the poor capital of the world, I don't think that's correct, as an issue of poverty, inadequate facilities into admission to higher institutions that necessitated a part‑time program and distance learning programs, but we have.

Now talking about the mode of learning for preCOVID‑19 I would like to say that essentially what is predominant in Nigeria, from primary to tertiary, in private and public institutions is face‑to‑face, traditional classroom setting where everybody sees a teacher and they talk.  Even the correspondence, when we have them, it is ‑‑ it is in the past, we have had this distance learning, from 2009, we're all using face‑to‑face irrespective of names, but then they were using prepared models that were handed out to students to read on their own while they would come together at the learning centers to come together and learn.  At some point, I think in 2003 when we opened up the University of Nigeria, when it was set up and the University of Legos, it was renamed the correspondence studies to this type of learning and we had a bit of a mix of eLearning, using, you know, materials like the CD, DVD, what have you, in addition to the printed models given to the students.  We see it as a mix, a blend of learning.

However, in 2009, the Nigeria international University commission set guidelines for proper distance learning operation in Nigeria because it was seen as purely as part time learning since they still converged in learning centers.

As for the primary, the secondary school, there was distance learning, access, it is for everyone, although we have challenges, even though students wouldn't be in school, it is understandable.  No 2010 we had opened the University of the UK, the British council and the Nigerian University center, they trained train the trainer for six universities and they did really this practice of trans learning to an extent.

In essence, looking at the preCOVID period, eLearning and online learning was basely for distance learners and very few private universities that could, afford, you know, some of those technologies and what have you, but there was a challenge to that.  Even in Nigeria, eLearning, online learning, those that passed through that medium, they were looked down upon.  There was discrimination.  Even in employment, because people didn't believe in the idea of learning outside the classrooms and all of that.  All right.

Even during that period of the preCOVID, the learners had challenges, we had eLearning and online learning and some of those challenges I listed here, we had the issue of internet access and low bandwidth, we had the issue of lack of devices and facilities, some students, learners were unable to use their Internet Protocol and it was a very important challenge, the supply, that's always been there.  Then when models were handed to students, nobody took appropriate care to make sure that they were written in the languages that the students would understand, it was more like tutor‑centered rather than learner centered.  What we thought, you know, with the train the trainers, after 2010 and things began to improve.

In all of this, the challenges are just mentioned, physically challenged, the non‑physically challenged all face these challenges.  What we know is that the challenges is for learners with special needs, you know, it is also there and I will say that it is not particular to Nigeria, we have it also in other pardons of the world.  There was this inadequate provision for the physically challenged.  We have had very few teachers that were trained to handle their issues and there was limited technology to learning.  The software testers, you can imagine in my own University at some point, you know, for the blind students, learners, we had to during the exam, you know, ask a lecturer to read out the questions while the student, you know, writes or types on their machines.  We have had situations where physical buildings, they were no ramps not allowing movement for knows wheelchair.

For the teachers, they had their own challenges.  Most of them were untrained or inadequately trained in this type of learning for eTeaching and learning.  We know that Internet Protocol, you know, keeps evolving, so they needed to be trained on how to use the ICTs.  In some ways, they were not even available to use, we had limited facilities to use and most lecturers to, they used facilities like I mentioned.  For the institution, sometimes to be around people, you have people coming to the distance learning centers and if there is any opportunity for training on all of that, why should those actually use some of these materials that they have learned.

When you go back to facilitator cults, you discover that the institution goes back to square 1.  This was because there was ‑‑ there was no autonomy for distance learning centers for the universities.  When I mean by universities, we have the regular conventional students and the distance learning all in one school, it is not a single world and there was no autonomy for them and therefore they couldn't make decisions on their own to provide adequate resources and facilities.  The government, it was difficult for them to provide, a professor was not even there, nobody looked at that probably on online or eLearning because we believe so much in the classroom teaching.

Talking about the policy on online education, I don't think anyone had one existing.  I didn't see any.  We had this ineffective revolution of the Telecom operators who were operating on their own with high prices and then during the COVID‑19 period the University had told us that 13.2 million school children   were out of school.  Why?  Because some were poor.  Some, because of gender gaps, others because of religion and regional factors and everybody was aware of the problem we went through with all of the activities.

It was assumed that with this COVID, that a number of school children had increased so much and the educational landscape was interrupted.  Nigeria was prepared through other nodes but we had no provision for online or eLearning.  More so, the inequality gap, the learning disparity widened for the poor and the rich.  The rich, of course, they could afford remote learning because they're in private schools, you know, the parents could afford internet and data and what have you, and the children in public, local private schools, they were the worst hit because there was no access to data for them, they had to really manage with the radio and TV broadcast which was at some time even disrupted, there was a program fixed for a particular time and there was no light so, there is no way to listen to the program and it had a challenge as well because the feedback, it was missing, you could listen to the program but you have money to call through the phone, get through on the speaker, ask questions, otherwise you just go with it.  There was no feedback.

Then we have the distance learners that will continue their eLearning.  The University lecturer, they had issues with the government, they were on strike, they were still on strike, so University students, it was but for private universities and parents spent so much during that period of time to provide facilities for their children like talked about ‑‑ it was talked about.  In our country, it was an experience where there was a total lockdown, and most of the organizations, they were not paying workers, so they had to, you know, provide for children to learn online and all of that, at some point I had forgotten about it.  Now again, the country of Nigeria revealed the unpreparedness of most learners because we had a poll trying to find out if this is the best way, trying to learn where we were and most would have preferred the face‑to‑face and were ready to wait until the COVID was over, the reason, we were yet to establish this.

There was training for teachers in the primary, secondary schools by the federal government and the state governments to teach them tore to at least stay in touch with their students with WhatsApp, Telegram and I can't tell you how far they have gone with that.

With assisted learners online, you know, with assignment, most of them do not even have guardians and then there was an issue of the poor cybersecurity, there was some programs there.  You will find a mother, a mother doing interventions, coming in from everywhere and bridging whatever is being taught.

Those were some of the challenges that we had found.

There was a way forward.

For me, I think we need an orientation of our mindset.  Everybody.  The teachers, the learner, policymakers how we should, you know, give instructional delivery right now.  It is no longer business as usual.  It is not just a classroom.  We have to look for other means.  Now teachers and learners need to be trained.  Internet Protocol keeps changing and evolving.  We need to be in tune with what's happening around the world and follow suit.

The government, it needs to provide mobile data packaging, guidance, devices for students free if they can, maybe online then for those that cannot afford it.  We also need to provide the facilities at all levels of education, not just tertiary and the broadbands for TV and radio stations across the 36 districts of Nigeria needs to be expanded for wider reach.  Some of those pupils in the remote villages, they couldn't even tune in to the radios and all of that.

Again, Nigeria is so blessed with sunlight.  We have the wonders of sunlight!  Nothing stops us from using our solar‑powered education, we have off loaded them with offline materials and sent to vulnerable communities and disadvantaged people.  The government needs to give finances to distance learning centers this would ease decision making and the ability to provide resources that they need to run the institutes properly and teaches us still who should handle the challenged learner, we need more of them trained so that they can.

Very importantly, we need the software test converter, although we have some now, I think since 2018 we have been able to get some of those for offline students and whatever, we need more of that technology.  Again, it is important that we have cybersecurity so that people will be willing to draw out, you know, their materials and all of that knowing that they're safe and secure for them and not just anybody hacking into it.

Thank you very much.

>> THIAGO MORAES: Thank you.  It was very nice to see all of the challenges that you have had, but also the ideas that you give.

Maybe in the second time we'll discuss some of that.

The third case study today, we'll listen to Sona Baghiyan giving us the reality of Armenia.

>> SONA BAGHIYAN: Good afternoon.  I'm Sona Baghiyan.  I will speak on behalf of Safer Internet Armenia and present initial outcomes from the digital outcome survey carried out among school children in Armenia.  The aim of our research is to identify measures aimed to include the inclusion of the distance learning programs.  The first stage of the research is aimed to examine technological, association logical, psychological challenges occurring in the life studies.  In a late tertiary institutions stage we project the distance learning platform suitable to the needs of Armenia I'd occasion community and providing support to students and parents on the tools.  Our aim is to find solutions on how to increase students motivation during our studies and how to actively monitor the learning process.

Next slide, please.

The first phase of research was implemented from July to September of 2020.  It was aimed at identifying the most common challenges students face during remote studies.  We have surveyed approximately 1,000 school children age 6 to 17 and reached around a third of schools in Armenia capital city and provinces.

One of the obvious problems related ‑‑ revealed by the survey was lack of access to connected activities and device, inability of parents to support children in home schooling.  Around 20% of children have not been actively participating in distance learning program.  Mostly because of lack of devices, but also because of absence of necessary conditions at home.

Next slide, please.

About 60% of surveyed school children have found online classes more exhausting than traditional face‑to‑face learning.  Survey has also revealed that a bigger portion of children tend to prefer shorter online lessons compared to traditional 45‑minutes online classes.

Over 34% of students mentioned that during online classes their concentration on the learning subject reduced compared to face‑to‑face learning.  Approximately a third of respondents said that when schools moved online they became less interested in their classes.  Only 1 in 7 students said that during online classes nothing distracted him or her from the learning process.

A set of questions was dedicated to critical thinking and browsing skills.  A bigger portion of surveyed students mentioned that they had experienced difficulties in finding required information and inserting filtering information for importance.  They said it is difficult to data mine which information is trustworthy.  Some students mentioned that information overload is a destructing factor.  They said there is so much information that I can get lost, my attention is distracted and finally I find myself reading materials not related to my lesson.

A quarter of surveyed students mentioned that finding required materials have become more time consuming compared to prior COVID period.

Next slide.

The problem of being distracted is emphasized by almost all participants of the survey.  A big majority of surveyed young people, over 70% of them said that reading or browsing websites not related to the lesson material took up to one quarter of their lesson time.

Over 20% of respondents said that they spent only relevant websites from a quarter to a half of the total time of the online classroom activity.

A big part of the survey, it is dedicated to skills.  Young people tend to believe that they have sufficient digital skills for online learning.  A larger number of children think that their teachers possess up to date skills for teaching remotely.  A quarter of children think that rules of conduct are kept at an average level during online classes and the majority of respondents say that the behavior and conduct is good or excellent.

Next slide, please.

Surprisingly, cyber-attacks have been mentioned by a very small percentage of surveyed students.  Only 7.2% of students said their online classes have been a victim of a cyber-attack.  The vast majority of survey participants, over 80% used Zoom for classes and over 60% of them used applications for group responses.  The information translation to distance learning was assessed satisfactory.  More than 40% of respondents said that the response was good or excellent.  The proportion of those that said changes were average or unsatisfactory, it was equal to a third of respondents from the statement.

Next slide, please.

The impacts of this global crisis will be felt for year, if not generations.  One of the obvious problems was the lack of access to connectivity and devices or inability of parents to support children during home schooling, thus, according to UNICEF, in Armenia, around 20% of children have not been able to actively participate in distance learning.  Mostly because of lack of devices, but also because of absence of necessary conditions at home.

Even when children are participating in distance education, the question is how many of them have benefited.  Especially the younger children for whom learning online is not a viable option.

As the survey demonstrated, the inability to concentrate has been mentioned most frequently.  The problem has derived from difficulty to focus on educational activity to an inability to COVID information overload.  On the other hand, young people have become exposed to mass media and social media for 24 hours a day.  The most important conclusion and advice of these stages it is to be more critical of information received by various sources.

We will continue our research and we will also reach many thousands of school children displaced from South Armenia by war, 33,000 children are deprived of their right to education due to the war.  At a later stage we also used the research outcomes to develop new technological solutions which could best serve the interest and the needs of education community bringing people together around the positive goal of education.

Thank you very much.

>> THIAGO MORAES: Thank you.  It is very nice to see this very important survey and stat number what I have found similar numbers in other regions..  Also it was very nice, the approach of giving focus to our children, are they learning with this approach that's being taken.

We'll now talk about surveillance and that context with eLearning.

Professor, please.

>> TEL AMIEL: Thank you.

Just to make sure that you're hearing me well.

>> THIAGO MORAES: We can listen to you but can't see you.  Of course, if you prefer to go on audio, that's fine.

>> TEL AMIEL: That's okay.  I have my presentation as well.

Thank you to the organizers for this opportunity.  It is great to share this space with so many interesting presentations, wonderful colleagues.

I would like to take the 5, 6 minutes I have to talk a bit about some of the work we have been doing and some things we're worried about here in Brazil especially times of pandemic.

We have a project called Education Under Vigilance.  What we're worried about in the context of Brazil, but globally, it is how the pandemic has managed to accelerate our adoption of technologies and infrastructures without the due concern for what will happen after and what the risks are in adopting the technologies.

I would like to briefly go over some of these points.

I think most of you, especially now with so many ‑‑ with so much news around Google, Apple, other businesses both in the U.S. and around Europe, Amazon, I think you're all aware of this name, GAFAM, speaking to Google, Amazon, Facebook, and in other corners of the world, other groups would be included in this group, it is businesses that are mostly connected to collecting data and they benefit a lot from collecting data although they may have other aspects of the business that provide revenue.  Data is a very important way for them to organize themselves and to generate profit.  Our concern has been we have seen a great movement in not only Brazil but around the world and we have seen as mentioned in the beginning by Alfredo Calderon, the adoption of platforms like Microsoft 365, in many countries, school systems, it has come about because of the pandemic and there are many reasons for us to worry about these businesses joining or gathering data from our students and teachers.  For a lot of very well‑known reasons, I'll try to briefly mention them here.

The first, there is a massive amount of data collection and metadata collection and analysis.

Businesses like Google, for example, they may be very much vested in this for advertising purposes which we think is comparable to what we do in education and other businesses such as Microsoft may not be directly related to this and used in providing advertising, for example, but are very much interested in collecting this for betterment of products.  When the services are provided for free, as they have been for many educational systems and institution, they give us a false notion that we're getting something without giving anything back in return.  Mostly what we do, we give back data and metadata and that's in the form of research data from higher institution, the way that people teach, the behaviors that they have online while teaching and learning, massive amounts of video data and all sorts of other things that we're generating all the time.  This leads to a lot of issues.  The first one, we feed algorithm, we know that they have been a big problem for us in terms of the obvious manifestation of fake new, feeding algorithm, training algorithms is something that the data can do and it selves to lead to the production of educational products that we may need to buy in the future.  Feeding algorithms in massive amounts of data for neural networks is something that we do involuntarily with these supposedly free services.  We have seen platform loyalty, this is a motto in educational technologists for the past 50, 60 year, when you start providing these services to a very young populous, you know, kids, schools, they get familiar with these products and they see these products in the businesses that this were working in the future and there is a cycle of keeping these platforms in the mindset and the collective mindset of people and they just know how to use one thing and keep using it.  As we adopt these ‑‑ we sort of reduce the services and people are used to using one thing and then they didn't even know other opportunities exist.  People when they associate an online editing platform for documents, they think of Google Drive, whatever Google Docs offers, they don't know of the many, many other options that are viable that exist because of this platform loyalty that it builds up.

There is growing evidence of algorithmic prejudice and content removable, we see platforms as they centralize the service, they can be arbitrators in what stays and what is removed, that's a big problem.

Net neutrality, 0 rate something a big problem, especially in poorer countries as in the case with Brazil.  When you have very little access to other platforms, because the cellphone plan is over, you'll be directed to using things like WhatsApp, Facebook, those are the things that you can access without going into the consumption that you have on your plan for your cellphone.  This is a big issue for many countries as citizens of many times think that the only thing that the internet is either Facebook or WhatsApp or anything else.  That's been growing in education to the ironic point that some students don't even have access to their school platform or the University platform, but they do have access to Instagram, for example, in a time of pandemic.

Finally, this leads to massive concentration of power which is the subject of many lawsuits in many countries and I won't need to go into that.

I don't have a lot of time.  I would like to rent you with some data from the project that we're conducting through the open education initiative and other colleagues from the north part of Brazil, they have education vigilance, it is based on a script that was developed in this project by colleagues and what it does, it automatically pings these servers from all of these institutions and state educational systems and municipal educational systems and gets become information and we analyze to see school students and institutions have adopted these ‑‑ in the case of Brazil, Google and Microsoft predominantly.  It is an opensource script, anybody can use it, the data is open and licensed and anybody can use this script to map out this presence of these institutions in their country.  We're expanding thousand to cover all of Latin America and the data is available by the end of the year.

It is an automatic mapping and what we do to verify this data, it is that what we go through this equivalent of a Freedom of Information act in the United States.  We verify this data by asking specifically qualitatively so to speak to get ‑‑ to make sure that the data on the script is reliable.  We have done this for all public education institutions in Brazil which are approximately 150 state systems for school systems and now we have just recently last week mapped out all cities with over 500,000 people and the data to us, quite shocking, if you just consider public education, institution, higher education institutions and state, we're looking at 75% of these systems have already adopted either Google as Microsoft as an educational solution and a platform and the number has been growing over the pandemic.  If you look at the whole group of state, municipal, with over 500,000 inhabitants and the public higher institutional systems, the number is changing, the number goes down because municipalities take care of the young students, the first cycle of basic education, 1st through 8th grade.

Still, in that cohort, the youngest of the youngest, about a third of the school system and cities adopted these platforms which should be cause for immense worry in terms of privacy, diligence, collection of data, especially because as the platforms say in their terms of use, it is the responsibility of the school system, it is the responsibility of the institutions to guarantee that the students and the parents and they're responsible for the students, they are aware and sign off on the use of the platforms n causes great concern to us.  We keep tracking that data and we hope other also continue to track.

This data from municipality, it is fairly fresh, new, quite interesting to look at.

We have this data disaggregated for anyone that's interested in looking at it.  It is particularly worrisome for us, we know from a national survey that's done yearly that students use these platforms, they use Facebook in the form of WhatsApp, but they also use in the form of Facebook itself not only do they have a profile there in larger numbers but, say, for example, for WhatsApp, 61% of them say that they use it in school and most of the times I would say if not all of the times, the school systems have no idea what's in line in terms of data and privacy and they use it as a de facto platform as things I mentioned in the beginning.

To end on a lighter note, we have done a lot of action, especially partnership with UNESCO in Brazil to show alternative, a thing we have done, we're about to launch a project called Free Choice, it is a site that shows a ton of alternatives that could be used for software, educational resources, especially open educational resources that both school system administrators and teachers could look at, not only for their own use, but maybe institutions, they would be willing to adopt instead of using close platforms or free platforms to use something that they control.

We're trying to get people to understand that, the consequences of using these platforms.

In light of some of what colleagues mentioned, an important thing that we have, we have to teach.  We have to let people understand these topic, in connection with everything else we have discussed in terms of professional development for teaching, we have to bring in this agenda of digital, citizenship rights to the discussion in the pandemic and we're building a specialization course A post graduate course with the Ministry of Education for teachers and a nationwide course which we'll talk about open education and digital rights and we're currently running the first course for teachers for in‑service teachers for basic education which is called the open education leader course and we have 75 students enrolled in the first cohort and we'll have two more next year and we talk about the issues of technology, digital culture, open education, OER and the framework of digital rights and we now have a map of opensource solutions in Brazil so administrators know where to go if they want to provide alternative sources and work with businesses that provide these services and we have a testing platform so that people can use these different things instead of proprietary free software without knowing the risks and experimenting and finding out what's the better or viable solution for it.

Thank you for the time.  I'll leave with you some links here that may be useful and that you are interested in this and I'll be glad to participate in the next phase of the conversation.

Thank you.

>> THIAGO MORAES: Thank you.  It is very important to bring this and to remember we have several challenges, not always related to digital learning and skills, but as you said in the presentation, surveillance, our privacy, it is an important challenge inside of this environment of distance education.

Before I give room for the last speaker of the day, I would like to incentivize everyone participating to share opinions, impressions, sending questions to Q&A, in the second part, we really expect to listen more about your impressions and maybe experiences in the regions about what's been going on.

Glenn, I give you the floor.  Let's listen now about the School of Internet governance, I myself are very curious to listen about that.

>> GLENN McKIGHT: Sure.  Great.  Thank you.

I would like my slides to be put in the center panel, if I may.

Fantastic presentations at this stage.

My presentation will be fairly short.  Again, I want to do a focus on a case study similar to what Alfredo Calderon started this session on.  Basically, the concept was conceived in back in May, it is a relatively new concept back in May, 2020.  It was a result of the concern of our two founders, myself and Alfredo.

We saw that there was a lack of comprehensive virtual platforms for basic, holistic academic content on internet governance could be found and we found that there is a lot of organizations that we're doing things and they didn't have it in a cohesive track A roadmap for students to do.  COVID‑19, the pandemic basically provided an opportunity, it ex pa indicted the process of research, cure curating the launch, we looked to core issues to create an online school.  We wanted it to be, A, cost effective, we wanted a proven, tested platform, we wanted it to be expandable and opensource obviously going back to the previous presentation as an example and we wanted to work with larger communities to develop the tool that we ended up using that had additional add‑ins and plug‑ins.  Next slide, please.

After a lot of research, we decided on using massive open online course platform, a MOOC, it provide as free online training and what we have is, it is a cradle to grave approach.  We needed something that would handle all of the student registrations, monitoring the students in terms of completion of each module, we needed that structure so that it not only was viewable and technology agnostic, whether you're using a desktop, an iPad, your phone, that it would be viewable and ‑‑ from any platform.  Mobile accessibility, that was key thing.  We needed ‑‑ and again, quizzes were part of this.  They were not ‑‑ people did not have to do the quizzes.  This is a user‑focused approach as much as a facilitator approach.  If a person that's a very busy person doesn't need a piece of paper, we open it up to them, if we don't ‑‑ we don't force them to do the quizzes, if they don't want a completion ‑‑ can you go back to the last slide.  I have a couple more points to talk about.  Okay.

Basically, the quizzes were important, but as I stated, the person is not obligated do the quizzes or to get the certificate of completion.  We just ask them to participate in terms of the next things.  The innovation forum is very, very important.  It is a chance for people to meet each other.  We found that such a high‑level of participants, the first program, the first group of four, we limited it to 100 students and one of the first things we ask for, it is please introduce yourself and we want to facilitate people who are doing similar things in different countries to actually lean on each other.  That's our role as facilitator, we're not teachers, we could you rated wonderful material and we constantly ask for additional material to be added to the poll.  One of the things that we have, it is an ability to do live chats throughout the entire program with each other if they're discussing a session and then once a week we have selected speakers on a topic associated with the nine modules and it is a live chat and we use a big blue button as the platform and you may not be familiar, it is similar to blue Jean but it is a tool bundled with Moodle.  As I said, one of the things that we provide is a certificate of completion.

Next slide.

Key features:  As I stated, there is 100 students and our first two modules, they're completely booked and it is the second module, it is starting in the 23rd of September, our first group is finishing this week and we have a turnaround time for the students to start group number B.  We have opportunities for people to join and I think Alfredo can correct me on this, group C is almost completely full as well but I'm providing the links to registration form so that we're taking a waiting list if other spots do get freed up and then we have group D.  Our plan, they're after this each gripe goes through the process, we send an evaluation and do a final report.

We owe it to the community but also ow it to the people who sponsored us as part of our sponsorship agreements.  The sponsors we get allow us to do this course for free.  Next slide.

So as I state, it is a free program.  Next slide.

So this is a quick look of what it looks like on the left side.  You can see the different modules, we have 9 modules and it includes an opportunity for people who are not aware and if new schools come onboard, we'll add it to the overall poll, this score does not replace the face‑to‑face scores.  This is a program that's a fantastic preamble to somebody that may be looking at doing a face‑to‑face school, for example, I'm speaking and it is 6 tomorrow morning on the internet actors on the Ghana school, supporting that school and myself and Alfredo, we're very happy to work with any school, we're both members of the DC coalition of schools on internet governance and we have done a lot of work on the taxonomy but also we have created a guide to how to run a school.

Our emphasis here, it is that this is fantastic preamble for anyone who is looking at taking a face‑to‑face school.

I want to showcase the sponsors that helped us do this we have two platinum, we have PIR and we have Verisign, Arin, and we have ICANN, CIRA and lastly we have AFLIAS.

Next slide, if you want to learn more about our school, you can go to virtualsig.org or the Facebook site and the actual link to the site, which you can't get in, you need an ID and password, it is Internet Governance Virtual School.  I forgot to mention, every time we do a live session with one of our guest speaker, we convert that into a video and we have a play list on YouTube as well.

That's it for me.

I'll turn it back over to Thiago Maraes.

>> THIAGO MORAES: Thank you.

It is exciting.  The whole initiative.  Congratulations to you and Alfredo for starting it.  I definitely will share with my colleagues.  I am pretty sure that some people may be interested in following this course.  I think that's a nice factor of having a virtual school, that we can have a global team of students that participate.

In this next part that we're starting now, we don't have many minutes left.

Anyone that wants to speak, if you want to have your 2 minutes of fame, and just give your impressions, share your experience, that's very important for us as well.  We know the issues has not stopped in Nigeria, Armenia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Canada.  There are many other regions of the world that we do believe that might have similar or even different problems that we cannot tackle.  I will still see if anyone wants to promote as a panelist, you just need to send your requests in the chat so that we don't waste these few minutes that we have left I will continue with the discussion, bringing holistic questions for some of our speakers and I will leave ‑‑ if you want to bring this question, try to answer it, the first one, I would like to bridge is tackling different educational needs.  How do we tackle them when we have, for example, different groups of students, basic students like children, students at universities and special needs and different learning curves and different fields of studies.  This has been said before, that you cannot use the same methodology for teaching math and language.

If you would like to share your impressions on that.

>> ALFREDO CALDERON: If I may?

>> THIAGO MORAES: Yes.

>> ALFREDO CALDERON: I shared this comment on the chat.  Here in Puerto Rico, actually last month a team and I, we submitted to our local Department of Education a proposal to train close to 5,000 special education teachers.  Following Gloria's comment that Internet Protocol, although it might be out there, not all teachers have the skills to use them adequately and if we add to that, that we have even the traditional classroom teachers that teach math, science, English, Spanish, so forth, they don't actually use the adequate Internet Protocol tools or technologies to teach.  They usually think that with a PowerPoint slide show they can teach everything when that's only a means and it is just a strategy.  It is not the whole purpose to use PowerPoint to teach everything and that's why we have students who are sometimes overloaded with things they have to read, things they have to look for, because teachers don't have the adequate strategies to do that.

My guess is that we need something like what Tel mentioned, a repository, a place where all teachers can go to and find resources that they can use.  Do they have to be in different languages?  Yes.

Do they have to be adapted, adaptable to different circumstances as special ED students that have some sort of disability that we need to pay attention to?  Yes, we need.

It is a matter of raising sort of a proposal to the government to establish some policy that nationwide, internationally we can have a place to go to and find the resources we need to enhance the teaching skills of our teachers.  That's my humble opinion.

Thank you.

>> THIAGO MORAES: Thank you, Alfredo.

Does anyone else want to share impressions on the question?

>> ROBERTO ZAMBRANA:  Thank you.  Hello everyone here.

I want to share some thoughts about the situation.  I'm ‑‑ it is really, really good to know that most of our countries, no matter where the regions we are, we are having similar situations.

I will say two things.  One regarding to the access, in many foreign countries, particularly the Global South, the main problem is the fixed internet connections, they're near about 10 to 20% at most.  Most of the communications for internet are basically mobile services and, of course, the prices of mobile service, they're really high and really difficult for the students to actually get to internet.  That one is something that needs to be resolved in the future.

The other part, it is about the process about the model of education.  As we all know, no one was prepared for this pandemic, no one was prepared for this situation, so most of the universities, most of the schools, it was actually to overcome the situation, trying not to stop the educational activities and they did all of their efforts to do that.

Of course, it is really not feasible to change a face‑to‑face mod until just a few weeks, to change to an online model.  It is really difficult.

I think that's something that we need to reflect in the future what all our institutions, educational institutions like universities, students, schools, they need to be prepared.  Hopefully they will not have this kind of situation in the future.  We need to actually perhaps have a mixed approach for the future.  I'm one of the persons that believe that nothing is going to be the same in the future.  That's going to be the same in the following months, no matter if we just go again to face‑to‑face classes, we will still have this other model to integrate and to combine with the conventional models.  Thank you very much.

>> THIAGO MORAES: Thank you.

Does any other panelists want to share impressions on what Roberto has said?

>> ALFREDO CALDERON: Yes, you have the floor.

>> VRIKSON ACOSTA:  Civil Society, GRULAC, from Venezuela.  I would like to mention a couple of things.  First, regarding the virtual school with Glen and Alfredo that run, it is a critical one.  I know several internet governance schools and you usually go for three day, one day, one week and of course they show information but the virtual schools, it is very interesting and they have said, okay, but I think it will be very good.  I have a good feeling for that school, that they will grow very good and I'm available to help in any way that I can.

Maybe what Alfredo mentioned, the pandemic, it caught everybody without preparation and the education practice, it is very troubled.  Several weeks ago I did a dialogue, Roberto also did it, on the internet by Missions Publiques and we showed a special session in Venezuela regarding education in pandemic times.

The information I got, it is very troubling.  The parents even have to be taught how to use tools such as WhatsApp, Telegram, whatever, in order to review how their children are being engaged from the teachers.  Nobody is prepared, nobody is prepared and nobody ‑‑ yes.  It is trouble, it is very trouble.  I think what Alfredo mentioned maybe, it is maybe time to prepare a repository of Best Practices to show everywhere.  If not, everybody will be doing everything they want and that's not what we want to accomplish.

Thank you very much.

>> THIAGO MORAES: Thank you.

It is nice that he was very interested in the Virtual School of the Internet Governance.  I don't know if Glen, Alfredo wants to comment on what's been said?

>> ALFREDO CALDERON: Yes.

I do have a couple of comments.  Vrickson is a student that's completed the course.  He's going to be in a commencement event we're having on November 20th.  Congratulations, Vrickson for that.  He's been very, very ‑‑ how should I say ‑‑ vocal in the sense that, yes, it is a great experience and it is the first school where we have students from all over the world and they have free access to all of the content and they can download the content and they can use it anyway they want, that we have used a creative common license.  For those that don't know what that mean, you can freely use the content, and if we need to get some permission from somebody, we also try to do that in order to share the resources free of cost.

The other thing is, eventually, and I don't recall if we mentioned it, but we're going to expand the school, we're going to have a Spanish version eventually, we'll have a French version eventually, and anybody from any region of the world that has a concern about the language, would like to help us translate the content into their language, feel free to contact us and we'll try to see how we can make that happen.

That takes me to the point that was made, we still have to think globally, like Tel made, we have to start building and I hate to mention, this repository, we have resources in different languages, not only to educate teachers but the administrators, also the governments of the world that the open educational resources are there and right now we have to go out to look for them.

If we have a central repository so that we could find everything we need to teach with open resources, that would be great.  Thank you.

>> THIAGO MORAES: That's awesome.  I was thinking about that.  An interesting characteristic of the virtual School of Internet governance, it is capacity to replicate itself and to have its version and trying to reach more and more people so that's very nice.  And I'll talk to my colleagues and when we have time, we'll maybe create a Spanish version for Latin Americans, it is unfortunate that we have only 8 minutes left which means that we need to move for the final remarks.

I'll make a roundtable again.  Each of you, share your final impressions and we'll end this amazing session.

>> ALFREDO CALDERON: The next steps, we have a great group of panelists, speakers that are doing wonderful things in the country.  If we can find a way ting a great all of this information, if we can find a way to share the information with the governments of our countries, because we're talking based on our experience and the things that we're trying to do.  If we can become one voice, as a group, that would be great.  Thank you.

>> THIAGO MORAES: Thank you.

>> GLORIA ALANEME: For me, I want to respond to the question, you know, talking about using the same means, reaching out to our learners irrespective of age and you will of that.  I don't think we have to do that.

What's most important, we should look at the category, the target group, first as a primary schools, they commit to it, the television and radio, the secondary schools, they make do with television, radio and they have internet and why tertiary should use internet, unlike a Civil Society organization in my country as suggested, they're sustainable education and enterprise development and they suggest what had we call TREE: 

The T is for you to teach any means you can use to reach your target audience to teach them, use that. 

The reach, how you could reach them to ensure that they have learned, use that as well.

Engage, it is not about talking to them alone.  They also need responses, feedback, because if you talk and they don't respond, that means that you just had information and learning has not taken place.  Okay.

And then you have what do you call it, the testing and evaluation.  You need to test the right exams and tests, whatever we saw, I think what should be appropriate, it is whatever mean, whatever mode you want to use to ensure that those four points, at least achieved.

Thank you.

>> THIAGO MORAES: Thank you.

>> GLENN McKIGHT: Yes.  Thank you.

Again, from our experience, we have created something that's a self‑directed program that's focused on adults.  These are people that are busy, they have challenges in terms of COVID‑19 in terms of deployment and other issues, so we just basically wanted to give something and it resonates with people who see it as something that we're trying to do.  Most important is that the students who were in the program, they are meeting each other, learning from each other because if ire doing stuff on cybersecurity laws, Zimbabwe, you may be meeting somebody in Trinidad that's dealing with similar issues.  If we can facilitate that, that's not going to be something that will show up in our evaluation surveys as a tangible learning result in our taxonomy.  I think it is ‑‑ it is one of our goals.  Our goals is to provide a platform that people learn, when they want to learn it, how they want to learn it.

It is not a teacher‑focused program.  That's basically very different than maybe some other courses that we have looked at.  I really strongly support the idea of open education resources and open sources.

Thank you.

>> THIAGO MORAES: Thank you.

>> SONA BAGHIYAN: I think the last remark is that we should create a platform which will best serve the interests and the needs of Armenia educational community.  It was a platform that would benefit and motivate all students.

>> THIAGO MORAES: Thank you.

>> TEL AMIEL: An important thing we have learned, most of these things, they're in terms of collective action, we can't expect our teachers and our students to just on their own make these choices individually, although we can hope that this happens and we can help foster this movement.  The most important thing is we can work collectively in the regions and then, of course, if possible, in larger scale to make these things happen.  Most of the things here that we're talking about, it is dependent on this and influencing larger bodies that can make informed decisions regarding these topics to move forward collectively.

>> THIAGO MORAES: Thank you.

Once again, I would like to thank everyone, starting with the IGF organization.  Thank you.  Thank you to everyone from the team whose been assisting us since the beginning.

I don't think this global virtual online session would be able without your support.  I would like to thank the team for the session, I'm amazed we managed to make this merge of the agreement and our other speakers, I ‑‑ thank you.  Thank you.

So, and of course, the audience, because it is very important for us to see you interacting with us, participating, giving your opinions.  If anyone wants to follow our organization, also feel free, and I really think that after today we'll be able to reflect on this challenge and also to build support because there are many opportunities here to share.

 

 

Contact Information

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