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SPARKS 2019 takes Disruption in Higher Education into a Different Light
SPARKS 2019 takes Disruption in Higher Education into a Different Light

By: Vicente Santos


By: Vicente Santos


When people hear the word disruption, two things come to mind; either a disturbance or a problem. People detest the idea of being disrupted. Breaking the normal course of life and everything else in it has always been discouraged, and instead, people are expected to conform to what is custom.

“Positive Disruption” is a paradox that can be revolutionary once it is properly understood. Taking a lead in discussing positive disruption is Our Lady of Fatima University’s (OLFU) SPARKS 2019 International Conference. On its 3rd year run, SPARKS— which stands for Synergizing Partnerships in Advancing Research, Knowledge and Service— once again gathered delegates from different parts of the globe to talk about this year’s theme: “Positive Disruption in Higher Education”. The event was held last November 26 and 27, 2019 at the Assembly Hall of the OLFU RISE Tower, Valenzuela.

On the first day, Dr. Rita Munley Gallagher opened the conference with an in-depth exposition about the conference theme. President of the Phi Gamma Chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, Dr. Gallagher introduced the various and current “disruptions” in the education sector, and gave an overview of innovations that encouraged educators to go beyond teaching conventions.

Starting off the plenary session on the first day, Dr. Peter Josephy Esperanza shared his insights on teaching and learning without walls and borders. A faculty member of the Barstow Community College in California, USA, Dr. Esperanza spoke about ways on how an educator can leverage the youth’s rampant use of social media, which is deemed as a distraction to studying, but could be transformed into a powerful tool that can effectively teach students. He then bared strategies on how to integrate traditional teaching into various social media platforms.

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SPARKS’ second day began with Dr. Kyoko Osaka, a professor of Psychiatric Nursing at Kochi University in Japan. She re-illuminated the subject of robotics industry by presenting innovations, one of which was the possibility of robots providing basic and compassionate nursing care.

Then, Dr. Frederick Romero followed with a presentation on the importance of educating the current generation about intellectual property and its effects in the education division in the Philippines. Dr. Romero is Director III of the Bureau of Copyrights and Related Rights of the Intellectual Property Office of  the Philippines (IPOPHL), and the officer-in-charge of the IP Academy.

Next onstage was an educator from Udayana University, Bali, Indonesia. Made Rini Damayanti S tackled how higher education institutions (HEIs) in Indonesia adapt to the external and social forces that impact on the education sector. Making an example of Indonesia’s booming tourism in the past few years, she said such encouraged Udayana to nurture a unique and cultural academic environment in response to positive disruption in the tourism industry.

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SPARKS also featured a professor of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences Graduate School of Tokushima University in Japan, Dr. Rozzano C. Locsin. Discussing theories on Technological Competency as Caring in Nursing (TCCN), Dr. Locsin spoke of the structure and functionality of the human heart as a “technological marvel” that can help health care providers understand their patients, especially those who have undergone organ transplantations.

Showcasing China’s take on positive disruption in the 4th Industrial Revolution, Xu Weilan, Vice Director of the International Education School of Qiqihar Medical University in China, presented the efforts of China to support a green industrial revolution. The said initiatives included the use of artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, quantum information technology, and other advancements to preserve natural resources, reduce pollution and harmful emissions, and create better healthcare services for the world.

The last speaker for the two-day conference was Galvin Radley Ngo, Assistant Director of the Ateneo’s Institute for the Science and Art of Learning and Teaching. Reflecting on the importance of creating meaningful innovations in the education sector, Mr. Ngo encouraged the creation of relevant and useful advancements for the students.

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Gracing the SPARKS 2019 International Conference was OLFU University President, Dr. Caroline Marian Enriquez, who warmly welcomed all the delegates and world-renowned speakers of the said conference on its first day. Also present to deliver a closing message to the delegates, speakers, and organizers of the event was OLFU’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Heracleo D. Lagrada.

The event was made possible by OLFU’s Research Development and Innovation Center under the leadership of its Director, Dr. Michael Joseph Diño.