ASIS&T AP regional conference in Cambodia

The Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) Asia-Pacific Regional Conference was held in Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia on January 3-4, 2019. The theme of this conference was Effective Learning in Low-Tech Information Environments. Even with rapid developments in technological infrastructure in many parts of the word, there exists low-tech information environments around the globe. Kingdom of Cambodia has made a lot of progress in the use of information technology over the past decades. However, it still lags behind the developed countries in some areas, such as IT infrastructure. This conference seeks to facilitate the effective learning in such contexts by introducing technological strategies, pedagogical approaches/theories for effective learning, evaluation and assessment for learning and other information science practices to be implemented in low-tech environments.

Professor H. E. Kao Kim Hourn, the President of the University of Cambodia (Figure 1, the person in the middle) gave a wonderful opening speech to kick off this conference. Apart from notable government officials and scholars in Cambodia and abroad, this conference attracted participations of various influential academic scholars from around the world, including Prof. Kit Tai Hau (former Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Chinese University of Hong Kong), Prof. Steven Miller (Vice Provost from Singapore Management University), Prof. Lisa Given (former President of ASISI&T) and Prof. Javed Mostafa (professor at UNC School of Information and Library Science and UNC School of Medicine). Prof. Hau (Figure 1, the first person on the left) chaired the panel discussion “Higher Education in the 21st Century with Information and Learning Sciences”. Although Prof. Miller couldn’t join the conference in person, he offered helpful advices regarding how we could do proper marketing to attract participants from neighboring countries. Prof. Given gave a keynote speech on Social Media in Low-Tech Environments: The Australian Experience.Although still in the process of recovering from an injury, Prof. Mostafa, Editor-in-chief of JASIST (a top journal in the field of information and library science), was very keen in helping the conference by providing an insightful recorded video keynote speech. This conference was well attended by policy makers, professors, researchers, principals, teachers and students from the United States, Australia, Singapore, China, Africa, India, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.

Of particular note, H. E. Hang Chuon Naron (Figure 3, the person in the middle), Minister of Education, Youth and Sport of Kingdom of Cambodia together with several principals participated in the panel discussion “Effective Learning in Preschool, Primary and Secondary Education with Industrial Revolution 4.0”. In response to Fourth Industrial Revolution, Dr Naron highlighted the importance of equipping students with soft skills and addressed the question: how education can deal with the upcoming technological unemployment. For the special event, the conference venue was fully packed with more than 200 people attending. In another panel discussion focusing on higher education, panel members shared their insights in how information science and learning sciences may help Cambodia move forward in the 21st century. It was attended by Mr. MEAS Sophorn (spokesman for Ministry of Information) and a number of senior staff in various Cambodian universities.

There were several workshops with themes on research methods, publishing articles in high quality journals, and developing students’ reading and writing skills. An unconference on literacy for academic audience was also well received by audience. Parallel sessions with 33 talks were also presented, with various topics related to the theme of the conference. Besides academic exchange, this conference also had culture and musical performance. One was the dance performance performed by students from Pleroma School for Girls (Figure 4). The other one was the traditional APSARA dancing and folklore singing performed by students from University of Cambodia (Figure 5).

Written by: Dr. Sam Chu, Chair of ASIS&T AP Cambodian Conference, Associate Professor, The University of Hong Kong.                         

 Ms. Shen Qiao, Vice Chair of ASIST&T AP Cambodian Conference, PhD student, The University of Hong Kong.