The British University in Dubai (BUiD) organised the inaugural TEDxTheBritishUniversityinDubai on 16 January 2021 at the Marriot Hotel Al Jaddaf. The event explored the impact of COVID-19 on higher education and the future of universities after the pandemic. Distinguished speakers from a cross section of BUiD discussed key issues including Blockchain, inclusivity and diversity, and alternative methods of assessment.
Professor Abdullah Alshamsi, BUiD’s Vice Chancellor, welcomed the audience and said, “We are very proud to organise our inaugural TEDxTheBritishUniversityinDubai. We at BUiD believe strongly in disseminating knowledge and we share the same goals as the TED organisation of spreading worthy ideas. This event is a great opportunity for people to share thoughts and discuss ideas on COVID-19 and its impact on higher education.”
BUiD’s Registrar and Chief Administrative Officer, Hugh Martin FRSA, opened by noting that education has been hit hard by the pandemic. Within weeks of moving teaching and learning online, the talk began that the traditional university was dead. He argued that never has the purpose and mission of universities – in person and on campus – been more important. He also talked about strengthening and cementing the traditional university as the foundation of a fair, tolerant, and civil society based on the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge.
Dr Tendai Charles, Director of BUiD’s Centre for Research in Digital Education (CRDE), discussed the issue of exams and how universities worldwide have struggled to host effective exams online during the pandemic. One of the paradigm shifting lessons learned during 2020 was that there are multiple alternative ways to assess students, which are arguably better (and safer) than traditional exams. While Mamta Saha, Associate Member of the CRDE, reflected on the severity of COVID-19 on higher education and its impact on the emotional well-being of students, teachers and the community. In her talk, she looked at how by being conscious of five tools within you (Mind, Body, Heart, Breath, and Truth), you can ground yourself, connect with your intuition, and be at your best, despite difficult and uncertain times.
In her talk, Professor Eman Gaad, Dean of the Faculty of Education, examined diversity and inclusivity in higher education especially in times of pandemic. She gave practical tips on moving forward based on research-based evidence and lessons learned about how the sensitive issue of inclusivity is handled.
The vital role of Blockchain technology was addressed by Dr. Maria Papadaki, Director of the Dubai Centre for Risk Management, who questioned if universities are really ready for embracing disruptive technologies.
TED is a non-profit organisation devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives.
TEDx is a programme of local, self-organised events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks videos and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection.
BUiD offers a unique not-for-profit brand of higher education with high standards for study and research designed to contribute to the technological innovation and socio-economic development of the Arab world and beyond. By organising such an event BUiD highlights the importance of sharing ideas and knowledge.