Dr. Evans Talks to Forbes about Technology and Tradition in Education
Forbes Bulgaria's December issue features AUBG Interim President Dr. David Evans. He talks about the recent trends in education and what's new at AUBG. You can find the interview on p. 91 of the magazine's most recent edition and the English translation below.
What were the specific trends in education in 2019?
One of the trends worldwide is the impact that technology has on education. And new technologies have a dramatic and sudden impact, so it is difficult to predict what the next thing would be. For example, years ago, there was a boom in online courses - we thought that would change everything, but nowadays, we successfully combine them with traditional methods. I think one of the people's primary concerns is how would their education serve them economically and prepare them for success in today's changing world. What we do at the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG) is that we respect the traditions of the American Liberal Arts education and combine them with modern programs that provide students with specific skills. This is how we prepare them to be not only successful professionals but also responsible citizens who are part of the world's development for the better. Therefore, students need to build problem-solving, teamwork and communication skills. We need to find the right balance between theory and practice, and all good universities strive to adapt their educational practices in this direction.
What will the trends in education in 2020 be?
Certainly, higher education institutions will continue to look for the best way to use technologies because they provide us with excellent opportunities — for example, easy and fast access to information. I can open my tablet on the New York Times' website in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, and read it at the same time as anyone in America. That was impossible when I was a kid. Technology has made information so much more accessible. One of the main trends we are still struggling with is how we can help students sort this enormous amount of information. In the 80s and 90s, information was pre-selected, which had both its positive and negative sides. Now we have this feeling that no one is monitoring whether the information is reliable. Each consumer must be their own editor. Therefore, one of the key things is to create structures and programs for information literacy. Anyone interested in education should work in this direction because, in the long run, you cannot be effective unless you build your strategy based on accurate and authentic information. Another recent trend is the emphasis on the success of the graduates when ranking universities. The resources of the institution, the place of teaching, the number of books in the library are of paramount importance but more and more countries, including Bulgaria, place a strong emphasis on the students' results – their realization after graduation, the ways we could prove that they benefited from their university knowledge.
What's ahead for AUBG in 2020?
We want to make sure all our programs are up-to-date. We have a new major in physics and are thinking of expanding our portfolio in the sciences. We also have a new Vice President who will work on our fundraising strategy. It is extremely important for us to enable talented students to receive a high-quality education regardless of their financial status. We are also fortunate to have the Rising Impactors Scholarship Fund for socially engaged youth. Moreover, we recently launched the student entrepreneurship program Elevate, a unique initiative in the region.