Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani, Associate Vice President, Teaching and Learning at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, will be one of three keynote speakers at the BCNET CONNECT Higher Ed & Research Tech Summit.
Following the not-for-profit’s 2020 summit being cancelled altogether due to the pandemic, he says he is looking forward to speaking about something that he is very passionate about.
“I suppose I have a bit of a reputation for taking a more critical approach that asks uncomfortable questions – sometimes about the ethics of the technologies that we use at universities, issues of equity, issues of accessibility – the sorts of questions that make vendors from edtech companies uncomfortable,” he says.
“Edtech,” or educational technology, has had to play a significantly larger role in students and instructors’ lives since the pandemic pushed most higher education to a virtual platform.
As a result, pre-existing issues or concerns with technology use for educational purposes have become more evident, says Jhangiani.
During the summit, he will be speaking about the need for a more ethical approach to educational technology in terms of security and privacy, student agency, accessibility, and intellectual property.
“I think of how the pandemic has really exacerbated existing digital divides. It made it easier for students who are privileged, it’s made it much harder for students who are not privileged,” says Jhangiani.
Some examples he gives of this divide are discriminative online exam proctoring, unequal access to computers and reliable internet, and a lack of assistive technologies that caption videos or describe photos.
“When it comes to issues of equity, accessibility, and overall student agency or student choice, these are not questions that I would say need to be optional, or ‘oh, it would be nice if we could do that.’ These should be required things. Because, from my perspective, ‘do no harm’ is a very low bar, but we’re not quite clearing that bar, even as low as it is,” he says.
The main topics that will be explored at the summit are cybersecurity, what role technology plays during the pandemic and afterwards, hybrid teaching and learning, and perspectives from industry sponsors.
“The event brings together IT professionals from higher education and research institutions in British Columbia, as well as industry-leading technology providers,” reads the BCNET webpage.
Ben Makuch, an award-winning national security reporter for VICE News in Toronto, and Elizabeth Denham, the UK Information Commissioner, will be the other two keynote speakers at the summit. Makuch will be sharing his experiences reporting on the global cyberwar and how it can affect universities, while Denham will be talking about modern data protection and the impact that COVID-19 has had.
To register for the three-day summit from April 27 to 29, visit BCNET’s website.