GLC Face 2 Face – A coffee break on digital learning is a virtual events series. In each episode, two members of the GLC network will come together for 30 minutes to discuss a topic around successful education via digital technologies.


If you’d like to continue the global discussion around digital learning, join us on Mattermost, an open source community chat from our friends at Hochschulforum Digitalisierung.

Upcoming talks

There is still so much to discuss in terms of digital learning. We are currently planning the next episodes of our virtual coffee break and will get back to you shortly with new dates on this page. Until then: check out the recordings of our previous episodes below and follow us on Twitter to get all news and dates in time.

Past talks – Recordings and further information

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COVID-19 has provided the impetus for a hasty introduction of digital learning in many schools and universities. Educators around the world switched to virtual teaching practically overnight. This stands in contrast to the longstanding and deliberate implementation of digital learning as an add-on to offline learning. It begs the question: What changed? Which challenges have arisen in the ad-hoc implementation of digital learning approaches? What lessons are to be drawn from the global experimentation with new learning approaches? What opportunities does this hold for the future of digital learning?

In this first episode, GLC Members Suzanne Walsh and Bitange Ndemo give insight into digital learning before and during COVID-19 in US-America and East Africa. Suzanne Walsh has dedicated her work to the transformation of higher education and is currently President of Bennett College in North Carolina. Bitange Ndemo is Professor for Entrepreneurship at the University of Nairobi and one of the leading experts on transformative ICT in Africa. Together they reflect on digital learning in times of crisis.

Suzanne Walsh, President of the Bennett College, GLC Member

Suzanne Walsh was named President of the Bennett College in 2019. Previously, she worked as Deputy Director on the Postsecondary Success Team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and at Lumina Foundation and The Heinz Endowments. She has a JD & MSSA from Case Western Reserve University and BS from Cornell University.

Bitange Ndemo, Lecturer at University of Nairobi, GLC Member

Ndemo is an advisor to several organizations including UN’s Global Pulse on Big Data and the I-Hub, a premier innovation hub in Africa. He also sits in the Board of Safaricom, one of the leading telecommunication companies in Africa, Mpesa Foundation, Research ICT Africa that is based in South Africa. He is a former Permanent Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communication.

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While the speed with which teaching is currently being digitized is unprecedented, many education institutions already have preexisting knowledge and experience when it comes to digital learning. Which approaches fall under “digital learning”? Do we know which approaches work best in an online setting? How can success in teaching be measured? Do success indicators differ between offline and online learning? In short, what do we know, what do we need to find out, and what are the implications for the current situation?

In this second episode, GLC Members Carl Wieman and Volker Meyer-Guckel talk to us about what we already know about digital learning. Nobel laureate Carl Wieman has used digital learning extensively in his own teaching at Stanford University and comes equipped with an empirical perspective on what constitutes successful digital learning. Volker Meyer-Guckel is Deputy Secretary General of the Stifterverband in Germany, where he works with foundations to introduce innovative teaching approaches into learning environments. Together they discuss what makes for good digital learning and how education institutions can best implement this.

Volker Meyer-Guckel, Deputy Secretary General, Stifterverband, GLC Member

Volker Meyer-Guckel studied English Philology, Chemistry and Philosophy at the Universities of Kiel, Belfast and New York. He is Head of the Programme and Funding Department and Deputy Secretary General of the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft (Donors’ Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany).

Carl Wieman, Nobel Laureate & Professor of Physics and Education, Stanford University, GLC Member

Carl Wieman holds a joint appointment as Professor of Physics and of the Graduate School of Education. He has done extensive experimental research in atomic and optical physics. His current intellectual focus is now on undergraduate physics and science education. He has pioneered the use of experimental techniques to evaluate the effectiveness of various teaching strategies for physics and other sciences, and recently served as Associate Director for Science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. In 2001 he recieved the Nobel Prize in Physics.

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Beyond instruction, institutions of higher education are also struggling to implement remote collaboration and exchange. In a crisis that restricts movement and reveals stark differences in national education strategies and structures, what’s next? How do we design international exchange from here? How do we create global citizenship education in a world under lockdown? How do we bring about positive and sustainable impact in education institutions around the world?

In this third episode, Subra Suresh and Joybrato Mukherjee join us to discuss where we go from here. Subra Suresh is President of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. Founding chairperson of the GLC, he is a visionary in his field and has worked in international settings of digital learning for many years. Joybrato Mukherjee is President of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the world’s largest funding organization for international exchange of students and researchers. Together they will talk about what the crisis means for international cooperation, national strategies, and institutional governance.

Subra Suresh, President of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, Founding Chairperson of the GLC

Subra Suresh has been president of NTU since 2018. He was the ninth President of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) from 2013 to 2017. Before that, he served as Director of the US National Science Foundation (NSF) from 2010 to 2013, and Dean of the School of Engineering from 2007 to 2010 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was a faculty member for two decades.

Joybrato Mukherjee, President of DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service)

Joybrato Mukherjee (*1973), Chair and Full Professor of English Linguistics at Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU), has been President of JLU since 2009 and President of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) since 2020. From 2012 to 2019, he served as Vice-President of DAAD. For his academic achievements and his activities in the internationalization of higher education, he has been awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine (USAMV) of Iasi, Romania, and by Tbilisi State University (TSU) in Tiflis, Georgia.

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Higher education institutions are in crisis, and not just since COVID-19 has forced all instruction online. Many countries around the world are taking note of income inequalities that translate to severe educational gaps. The possibility of more digital learning therefore also becomes a question of innovative business models in higher ed. In this episode we ask: what pays off? What are current business models of higher ed? Which demands do we place on higher ed institutions going forward? What new types of universities might serve new kinds of students? And what role can digital learning play for more equitable access to education?

In the fourth episode, Renata Suter and Andrew Rosen join us to talk about new business models for higher education. Renata Suter is a behavioral scientist and Chief Education Officer of Kiron Open Higher Education. Andrew Rosen is Chairman and CEO of Kaplan, Inc. and writes about US-American higher education. Together they will offer insight into how education systems must adapt to new technologies and new demands.

Renata Suter, Chief Education Officer at Kiron Open Higher Education

Renata Suter holds a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Basel and a doctorate in decision sciences. She is Chief Education Officer of Kiron Open Higher Education, a nonprofit EdTech organization that provides refugees worldwide and underserved communities in the Middle East access to high-quality education.

Andrew S. Rosen, Chairman and CEO of Kaplan, Inc., GLC Member

Andrew Rosen received his undergraduate degree from Duke University and a J.D. from Yale Law School. He joined Kaplan, Inc. in 1992 and was named Chairman and CEO in 2008. Before Kaplan, he was an attorney at the Washington Post Company and associate counsel at Newsweek. Rosen’s book on American higher education describes how misaligned incentives have nudged it off course from what America’s society and economy requires.

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Education is a human right, yet not everyone has equal access to it. In many countries, the educational gap is growing as education costs rise. Educational technology has been hailed as a solution, promising to scale teaching and learning, and to provide more equitable access to students around the world. But is digital learning really creating wider access? Who is being left behind in the current push to digital learning? What needs to happen to ensure sustainable digital education programs?

In this fifth episode, Sajitha Bashir and Rahim Rajan join us to discuss equality in education. Sajitha Bashir is Advisor in the Office of the Global Director for Education at the World Bank. Rahim Rajan is Deputy Director of Postsecondary Success at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Together they will talk about equality in education and the role digital technologies can play.

Sajitha Bashir, Advisor in the Office of the Global Director for Education, World Bank

Sajitha Bashir, is Adviser in the Office of the Global Director for Education, World Bank, Washington D.C. and former education manager for Eastern and Southern Africa.  She is currently leading the work on Digital Skills in the World Bank and has developed major regional science and technology projects in the Africa region.

Rahim Rajan, Deputy Director of Postsecodary Success, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Rahim Rajan leads the foundation’s team responsible for developing and delivering high-impact, evidence-based solutions that can help transform postsecondary institutions so that many more low-income, students of color achieve greater momentum and success in their undergraduate education, to help achieve strategy goals to close attainment gaps in order to increase social mobility and to prepare the modern workforce.


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