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TICAL2021 comes to an end discussing the challenges and opportunities of using Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education

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“As in the Andersen story*, the pandemic showed us that 'the king is naked.' The king, in this case, are the higher education institutions, which we believed to be prepared for the future, but which, as we have seen, still have a long way to go”. The words of Francesc Pedró, Director of the UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNESCO IESALC), set the tone for the closing session of the TICAL2021 Conference and the 5th Latin American e-Science Meeting, which took place virtually from Monday, August 30th to Thursday, September 2nd, bringing together almost a thousand participants from all over Latin America, North America and Europe to rethink the “University driven by digital technologies”.

In his presentation - "Applications of AI to Higher Education" -, Pedró drew attention to the huge digital gap that exists in Latin America and the Caribbean. “Only 51% of homes in Latin America and the Caribbean are technologically equipped, but this disconnect goes far beyond technology; it is also personal, with low self-regulation capacity and many socio-emotional deviations, such as anxiety. This generates students and citizens that are very dependent, not very autonomous”, warned the specialist.

The Director of IESALC also pointed to the 'pedagogical' dimension of the problem. For him, the pandemic showed that some proposals for virtual education are anything but attractive, which has had dire consequences for Higher Education in the region. “The results of these disconnects are losses. Losses of students, losses of racial and gender equity, etc,” he explained. In his opinion, the solution to this great challenge lies in a much-debated but still poorly used tool: artificial intelligence. "With the use of AI we can advance in the diagnosis of what is happening and give each student what they need. It is also necessary to convince teachers of the importance of the resource and support them in the process of adopting these learning technologies", finished Pedró.

The ethical and moral dimensions of AI

Another aspect related to AI addressed in the plenary this Thursday was its ethical and moral dimension. The discussion of the issue was led by the Director of the Center for Collective Learning (ANITI) at the University of Toulouse, César A. Hidalgo, and by the IDB Social Sector Manager, Marcelo Cabrol. The last presentation of the morning was by Emilio Tissato, Brazilian advanced network security manager, RNP, explaining how NRENs can collaborate to create a cybersecurity ecosystem in the region.

As part of Tissato's presentation, the directors of national networks in Chile (Paola Arellano), Mexico (Carlos Casasús), Ecuador (Juan Pablo Carvallo) and Brazil (Nelson Simões), and RedCLARA (Luis Eliécer Cadenas), signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the creation of the Cybersecurity Group of the Latin American NRENs. “RedCLARA and TICAL represent this place of collaboration, where we can learn and grow with other networks. The agreement for the creation of the regional Telemedicine network in TICAL2020 was an example and now we have the agreement for the Cybersecurity group. We are very happy to be part of this initiative”, celebrated Juan Pablo Carvallo.

At the end of the session, the Executive Director of RedCLARA, Luis Eliécer Cadenas, highlighted the collective work that made the conference possible and celebrated the massive numbers of the event in 2021. There were almost 2,000 subscribers and 1,400 hours of broadcast content. “It's my fourth TICAL Conference and I can say, without a doubt, that it was the best I've attended. The quality of the presentations, the platform and the participation were incredible. Thanks to everyone who joined us and know that as of today we are already working to make TICAL2022 even better”.

The recording of the plenary of this Thursday, as well as the previous sessions, will be available on RedCLARA's YouTube channel in the coming days. The activity day ended with parallel sessions and workshops.

TICAL2021 and the 5th Latin American e-Science Meeting were organized by RedCLARA and the BELLA Program, with the technological support of the Click Group and the sponsorship of the Internet Society, Cirrus Identity, BeduTech / Google, SCALAC, Amazon Web Services and CloudHesive Latam.

For more information, please visit tical2021.redclara.net

*Read more at http://www.cuentoscortos.com/cuentos-clasicos/el-traje-nuevo-del-emperador

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