Following the success of its pioneer run last year, Our Lady of Fatima University’s (OLFU) Synergizing Partnerships in Advancing Research, Knowledge, and Service (SPARKS) International Conference sparkled once again on November 9 and 10, 2018 at the Novotel Hotel, Quezon City.
For this edition, SPARKS tackled a timely and relevant topic of discussion with its theme, “Building Global Universities in the 4th Industrial Age”. Delegates from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, United States of America, and the Philippines gathered together with a pool of esteemed speakers for an enriching exchange of thoughts about the worldwide modernization.
The conference took off with a Welcome Address from University President, Dr. Caroline S. Enriquez, where she emphasized how educational institutions and members must have an unceasing passion to enrich themselves. Moreover, she highlighted the academic sector’s need to cope with the present and future global technological advancements. “This conference is very important because it gives us a viewpoint or a handle on how things can be predicted in the future, but the realities of which, no one would know. And that is the challenge that I pose to all the academicians, all the mentors in this group: how do we move fast enough so that we’re able to teach our students how to handle their future? Do we talk about the skills? Do we emphasize more on the soft skills? Or do we just let things be? I leave that as a challenge to you, let this be one of the many conferences that we all need to attend so that we are not redundant as faculty, as mentors”, she said.
Present to give an insightful message was the Chief of the Research Management Division of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Dr. Custer C. Deocaris who stressed on the importance of working hand in hand when it comes to the betterment of the standards of education to create a strong institution that is prepared for the future. Afterwards, Higher Education Specialist and the Conference’s Keynote Speaker, Dr. Roger Y. Chao Jr., delivered a talk focused on adaptability as an essential tool in facing the 4th Industrial Revolution and why it is a must for global universities to consider the 4 pillars of learning when it comes to producing global citizens. “…no matter which Industrial Revolution we will be in, as long as you ground yourself within the foundations of learning, we will be global citizens, global institutions, and global universities”, he encouraged.
The first plenary speaker was Michael Harrison, Apple Distinguished Educator and Apple Accessibility Ambassador who highlighted the ways on how to future-proof education by embracing inclusive learning technologies. He ended his session with a challenge for the mentors of today: “We need to ensure that, as teachers, we do not limit the potential of our students based on our lack of understanding or confidence in the use of the technology”. This was followed by Gavin Radley L. Ngo, Chief Executive Officer of Woohoo Learning Lab who discussed about developing global citizens in higher education. He pointed out approaches for educators in refining the current learning models and adjusting to the demands of a swiftly changing educational landscape.
Then, an engrossing discussion between the two speakers and the delegates commenced, where Dr. Chao openly spoke about the current problems of our educational system while Ngo encouraged the delegates to be experimental and to try out new things when it comes to teaching to give the students a new learning experience. Harrison added that creativity is a necessity to get a hold of the students’ interest. This fruitful discourse capped off the first day of the conference.
On the second day, the event opened with a special number from the University of the Philippines Center for International Studies Noh Theater Ensemble and a recap of the first day of the conference. The plenary sessions continued with the Conference’s third speaker, Dr. Florangel Rosario-Braid, President Emeritus & Senior Adviser of the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication. She talked about breaking the glass ceiling towards an inclusive and diverse leadership, and voiced out the relevance of “going beyond what is expected of you and taking the road less travelled by”. The fourth speaker was William Sanchez, International Projects Manager of Saxion University of Applied Sciences, who imparted the future of research in the 4th Industrial Revolution. Further, he shared some ways on how OLFU and other learning institutions can improve by sharing some of Saxion University’s current educational curriculum and facilities. The following talk was then given by Felta Multi-Media Inc. President and CEO Mylene Abiva, who conversed about ‘technogogy’ as the core of teaching learning activities. Likewise, she discussed how inquiry-based learning works and elaborated on the advantages of children’s engagement in the field of technology. She also had a fun demonstration of an ultra-sonic sensor robot named Doctor Heartbeat. Sixth to take the stage was Jane Lynn D. Capacio, Senior Researcher, University of the Philippines Center for Integrative and Development Studies, whose session also featured a case presentation from Leonardo Cortez Jr., Senior Program Manager at Jollibee Group Foundation. Together, Capacio and Cortez underscored the importance of effective academe-industry linkage and partnership. The last speaker for this year’s SPARKS Conference was Dr. Yasmin Y. Ortiga, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Singapore Management University, who shared her research on the establishment of Manila as an “unlikely” global education hub. Her paper also provided an exploration of the behavior and attitude of local and foreign students towards their educational choices and decisions.
The event served as an avenue for the awarding of the research exposition poster entries where the “Virtual Reality in Pre-Operative Fear Reduction among Filipino Young Adults: A Pilot Research” emerged as the grand winner. The affair also opened doors to new partnerships with the signing of Memorandum of Understanding of OLFU with 4 Universities namely West Visayas State University, Ateneo de Naga University, Andalucia College of Nursing, and Saxion University of Applied Sciences.
The conference was concluded with closing remarks from Dr. Heracleo D. Lagrada, OLFU’s Vice President for Academic Affairs. He expressed his utmost gratitude to the speakers, delegates, institutions, organizations, and conference committees who all played a key role in making this year’s international conference a success, as well as his hopes of being able to see each and every one again on the third year of SPARKS.