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From medieval universities to the University Network. Knowledge, technologies and education: university policies and practices.

Throughout its history, the university institution has overcome many crises and changes. We take pride in recognizing our medieval origins and the strength demonstrated at having survived  economic, social and political upheaval over all these years. Our origins lie in that medieval university (in fact, some traces still remain) and we walk through modernity with doubts and uneasiness.

The current socio-historical context has put public universities, both in Europe and Latin America, up against new challenges that are resulting in a “public sector” crisis of economic policies. Together with society’s loss of confidence in education and its ability to improve citizens’ quality of life, this has brought about new demands in terms of efficiency, productivity, equity and quality of education systems. In the early decades of the 21st century we are facing possible “commercialization” as a result of economic problems, growing complexity and heterogeneity of teaching involving a greater diversity of contexts (undergraduate, postgraduate, continuing education …), changing demands for content and methods, new working conditions for teachers and new ways of being a university student, incorporation of technologies, and so on.

The main purpose of the First International Conference “Knowledge, technology and education: university policies and practices” is to promote debate by and for the university community regarding some of the university’s modern-day problem. This debate should help to identify voices from the public university to address the conflicting demands stemming from a variety of national and international institutions. We aim to reflect on the relationship between policies and practices at universities in information and knowledge societies, focussing on how they affect teaching and learning processes. Considering the complexity of the problem, the discussion approach seeks not to isolate the practices applied in universities from the policies and contexts that generate them.

This conference will take place on February 6, 7 and 8, 2013 in Santiago de Comspostela, and is part of a cooperation project called “University in the knowledge society. Institutional strengthening in areas devoted to university education with new technologies ” that is being undertaken by the National University of Cordoba (Argentina) and the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain). It is another of the activities that the RED UNISIC (University and the Information Society and Knowledge) has been carrying out since 2006, with support from the AECID (Spanish Agency for International Development).

Within this framework, we will discuss the tools that are available to us in each context and the outlook for the future.