Rescuing Quality Education from the Budget Trap

Posted on Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Written by Bee Khan

The Glocal Classroom project held its third conference this weekend entitled “Voice & Matter – Glocal Conference on Communication for Development”. The conference took place at Roskilde University and Malmö University.

Livestream Video from Glocal Classroom Conference

In May of this year, the second Glocal Classroom conference was held at the University of Guelph. The conference held on campus focused on finding cost-efficient ways to provide quality education:

At a time when universities have to operate under tight budget constraints, there is eminent risk of deteriorating quality of education. Moments of crisis such as this one, however, often inspire innovative solutions. The Glocal Classroom is one such initiative that is exploring the potential of technology to facilitate higher learning. Four universities (the University of Guelph, Flinders University, Stellenbosch University, Malmo University) from across the world have come together to “build a global platform for collaboration and interchange in web-based learning”.

As part of the initiative, a 2-day seminar on Communication for Social and Environmental Change was hosted at the University of Guelph on May 22-23, 2014. Dr. Helen Hambly Odame orchestrated the event with the help of an organizing committee and student volunteers. Approximately 80 scholars, practitioners, activists, and students participated in the seminar both virtually and in person. In keeping with the spirit of the Glocal Classroom project, the 2-day event was live-streamed, webcasted, and broadcasted, and a video archive was produced. 

“I haven’t seen such an initiative,” said Dr. Ataharul Chowdhury, a member of the organizing committee for the event. He commented on the rarity of four different universities coming together and the impressive impact that a small-scale event can have.

Sessions, discussions, workshops, and student presentations covered a variety of topics at the event, including: communication in rural Canada, participatory video and filmmaking, international development journalism, as well as the potential of technology to facilitate teaching and learning globally.

The goal of the event was to consider how online tools can be employed to overcome the crisis of quality education. “The idea,” said Dr. Chowdhury, “is still being tested.” There is clear interest in developing a methodological approach to integrating online tools into pedagogy to allow students to benefit from expertise from around the world without breaking the budget.

For more information on the 2-day seminar and/or the Glocal Classroom, please visit:

Glocal Classroom at the University of Guelph
The Glocal Classroom at the University of Guelph, May 23, 2014.  Photo credit: Katrin Sawatzky 

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