The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions to education around the globe. The necessity of social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has forced many educational establishments to close and adopt online and distance education. It has been argued that technology-assisted distance education has had various benefits, including the increase in teaching efficiency, flexibility in time and place, and expansion in education accessibility. On the other hand, the forced adoption has also posed a wide range of challenges and obstacles. For instance, students have different levels of computer literacy, most of whom are still at a basic level. This has made online learning extremely difficult as they have had to navigate and self-administer their own learning online. A lack of infrastructure such as internet connections and access to technology are other challenges presented in digital education with COVID-19 highlighting even further the digital divide between urban and rural communities.
It is not just education that has been changed by the need to rapidly adopt new technologies, but also the increasing evolvement towards Industry 4.0, which will require graduates with new knowledge and skills particularly when it comes to using technology. A recent study by the World Economic Forum identified that by 2025, over 80 million professions will become less relevant or disappear; and that these will be replaced by new jobs, some of which have yet to exist. Hence, in the next 5 to 10 years there will be an increasing role for education to prepare graduates with the new employment skills, to meet the challenge of the projected dramatic transformation of local and global economies, knowledge and technologies and future career and job opportunities.
To further promote the debate among scholars, researchers, practitioners and policymakers about the vital role of education in a rapidly changing world, largely driven by technological innovation and the COVID-19 pandemic, CESCam organized its Second Biennial Conference on the theme “Envisioning Education 2030: New Models of Education”, held on 14-15 October 2021. The conference was co-hosted in hybrid format by the Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI) and the Kirirom Institute of Technology (KIT), in collaboration with a number of higher education institutions in Cambodia including CamTech University.