The 4th International Virtual Exchange Conference (IVEC4) opened on September 14th at Newcastle University in the UK. I attended the Opening Ceremony and joined the Rapid Mix that followed- a good opportunity to get to know some of the other participants. I had the chance to speak with colleagues from South Africa, Mexico, the Netherlands, Venezuela, France, the United States and Britain. From my home in Sapporo. Due to the pandemic, the conference is held online.
We are going through tragic and frightening times when millions of lives around the globe have been thrown in disarray. It is hard to find positive aspects in the current situation. In spite of this, there are voices talking about the pandemic as an opportunity to rethink our way of life and change it for the better. This hopeful message can be frequently encountered at IVEC4. Many of the speakers express the idea that, for universities in particular, the disruption of the regular activity is also an chance to innovate, to carry out the promise of digital technologies and to transform education making it better suited to the challenges of the 21st century. I have no doubt that the conference will be a great success.