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Canadian welcome trumps Trump ban

Lorraine Graves   Jul-28-2017

Rajiv Jhangiani, University Teaching Fellow KPU, with Sean Michael Morris, Director of Digital Pedagogy Lab, organizer of the international conference.

Photo by Chung Chow


Canadians have extended a welcome to the academic leaders in the wake of President Trump's travel ban which could have stopped some international experts, including a Canadian born in Iraq, from attending.

There's been a quick shuffle from Virginia to Richmond, B.C. Part of a conference of experts in using computers and the internet to learn has been moved last minute to Kwantlen Polytechnic University's (KPU) Richmond campus. KPU is a logical choice for the venue because it is a world-leader in open access, online learning and digital textbooks.

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"This event was built on radical openness so it is vital that we offer space for as diverse a community as possible," says Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani, one of the event organizers and an instructor at KPU. "Once news broke of the recent U.S. legislation that restricts the ability of scholars from several countries to attend the Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute, it quickly became evident that our event could not proceed as planned."

As a result, the invitation was sent to experts unable or unwilling to travel to the US for the conference.It worked. The conference, called the Digital Pedagogy Lab, is now full.

This KPU event brings 75 leading scholars from around the world to explore how best to use digital technology in teaching and learning to give more people access by making education easier and cheaper to get even if you aren’t close to a university or have little money. Calling the event, "Important conversations," organizers say the digital world gives students and institutions the opportunity to blend social justice with education because it lets an increasing number of people of all ages and locations get an education.

This quick conference move was made possible because of, "The immediate and strong support of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, in collaboration with Thompson Rivers University (Open Learning), and the University of the Fraser Valley, KPU Richmond will now play host to the Digital Pedagogy Lab Vancouver from July 28 to 30, 2017," according to a press release issued by conference organizers.

These conferences are important not just for the talks but also for the time world leaders in accessible education can get together informally to share ideas and solutions.

And there are many things to be ironed out for digitally-accessed learning and teaching. For instance, anyone can put something online so how are teachers and students to know it’s accurate or that it wasn't just copied onto the web from copyrighted material? What are teachers' responsibilities? Will new technology make teachers and students more or less self-reliant?What are the ethics involved in online access for learning, studying, assignments and exams?

Conference-goers will also try to figure out what to do when restrictions on the internet or travel make working, teaching and learning together more difficult or impossible internationally. The last minute conference move is a case in point.

The assembled experts will look for technological solutions to man-made road-blocks.

They want people around the world to have easy access to learning and knowledge.

While the conference is already full, the two key-note addresses will be open to the public. The first, Friday afternoon July 29 at 3:30 p.m. and the second on Saturday morning at 9 a.m.

"As an institution that values academic freedom, KPU is proud to provide a space for scholars from around the world to hold important discussions about education, technology, progress and social justice," said Dr. Diane Purvey, dean of the Faculty of Arts.


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