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[Beijing Forum 2013] Helge Hoivik—more space and more freedom for students to work together

Peking University, Nov.2, 2013: Freedom, team work and technology, these are the three most frequently mentioned terms during the interview with Professor Helge Hoivik.


Helge Hoivik is a professor from the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. He attended Beijing Forum 2013 and gave a speech on the panel: Global engagement and Knowledge Sharing in Higher Education, named “Four Steps Towards a Global Open Educational Environment”. In this speech, professor Hoivik put forward a new kind of application of technology in education, that is, digital paper.


During the interview, some suggestions were given when talking about main problems confronting Chinese education. “They never bring up the question of empowering students to self-organize”, he said. “I think you could improve the practice by making systematic tests whereby students are encouraged to work more as a group. Also, define clearly what they should do themselves rather than just give assignments.” According to professor Hoivik, in order to enhance education, “more space and more freedom for students to work together” is recommended. “Technology is there, teachers are there and maybe students could work more together.”


If more freedom is given to students, how to keepa balance between the need for proper instructions and the freedom that the students should have will become a problem worthy of thinking carefully about. To this question, professor Hoivik answered that both the self-evaluations and those assigned by the teachers should be accessible to students. “Evaluation itself is a process of learning.” Besides, professor’s role cannot be ignored or exaggerated.


“It is not the question of taking away the role of the teacher at all, but is to re-define and disaggregate the different components of the learning process and to put them together again using the possibility of new technologies”, said he. “The professor’s role could be both ‘bigger’ and ‘smaller’”, he vividly expressed, which he later explained that the professor should be on a higher level structuring the process, which is what “bigger” means; but the day to day process should be left more to the students, which is the meaning of “smaller”. Again he mentioned, “Give more space, more independence and more freedom.”


Apart from some problems modern Chinese education is faced with, another issue people care about is the cost of education and technology, towards which professor Hoivik appears relatively optimistic. He thought that over the past 5 to 10 years the costly knowledge has become relatively easier to get access to except in very poor areas in the countryside. Since most students have access to computers and technology, the key to combine technology with education lies in the application of technology, especially the efficiency of the use of technology.


He pointed out another sharp problem in education, “You are going to have a smooth perfect application of these technologies. Most of the things are sort of tacked onto the traditional system.” In order to practice a perfect combination of technology with education, educators should “know professionally enough about how to apply technology.” And that is where his topic about digital paper came from. It is also a sort of forward looking project on how to interact in class.


At the end of the interview, he gave some suggestions to modern students. “Another thing which I think is more fundamental is the relationship between the academia and the civic life outside the campus.” “The students should expand their projects into what’s practical and what is applicable in a closer interaction between life outside the university and life inside.”


Interviewed by: Yan shengnan, Chen Jiayu

Written by: Yan Shengnan

Edited by: Zhang Jiang