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Perspective of ELITE O2O Innovation University: A Revolution in the Global Higher Education in Post

Updated: Oct 18, 2021



21, November, 2020

Richard Li-Hua


Thanks to China Association of Higher Education and Zhengzhou University for the invitation for the delivery of this keynote at the China Association of Higher Education 2020 Conference. The topic that I want to share with you is:

Perspective of ELITE O2O Innovation University: A Revolution in the Global Higher Education in Post COVID-19 Era



COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the world economy, the global governance system, the international political landscape and the global higher education. However, from a historical, dialectical and systematic perspective, the interdependence of human survival still exists, the basic development elements of maintaining the global higher education will not be swayed by the virus. When MOOC was launched in 2008, it was only twenty-five students attended the course on the campus of the University of Manitoba while 2300 students from around the world participated online. Hardly anybody could predicate that around one billion students have to study online courses this year after 12 years of the birth of MOOC. With outbreak of COVID-19, technology enhanced learning has been rapidly adopted globally by education institutions which play a key role for the continuity of the education and learning. Not only so, there are more emerging online innovative universities have begun to penetrate into the global higher education systems and markets which challenge the traditional university model of 800 years old. No doubt, this huge impact caused by the pandemic would ultimately lead to a great revolution in the global higher education.


In this keynote I would like to highlight THREE points:

First, a global vision with a paradigm of WEST MEETS EAST. We will need to continue and highlight the global vision in universities. The elements of the globalization are much advanced in research and innovation in the global higher education sector, however, it is less prominent in teaching and learning strategy of the universities. It is even becoming much less attended in online learning and delivery. A global vision is strategically situated in the global marketplace, which is able to attract various stakeholders, collaboration partners, academics, researchers and learners. The paradigm of West Meets East - the integration and development of West and East management theories, wisdom and philosophies has gained considerable traction because of the globalization, political and economic changes, and the shifting of powers. The world has undergone significant transformations over the last 40 years, which has led people to rethink and reconsider how to secure a political, social, and economic environment for delivering sustainability. The integration, inclusiveness, collaboration and embracing innovation[1] have never been more relevant than in the post COVID-19 era.


Second, we have to tackle the Challenges and Impact caused by COVID-19. According to the recent OECD report, COVID-19 crisis has forced school closures in 188 countries, heavily disrupting the learning process of more than 1.7 billion children, youth, and their families. Digital revolution and online-learning solutions were implemented to ensure education continuity during this difficult time. Many important elements that happen during the school closures, cannot be neglected, such as the curbing of educational aspirations, the disengagement from the university system, vision and mission, and absence from the familiar academic ambience on campus will have a long-term impact on students’ journey and learning outcomes.


The outbreak of Covid-19 and the challenges of globalization have dramatically impacted the global higher education, especially cross-border education. The mobility of students between west and east in the major countries between China, UK and US almost stand still. The mankind lays hope on vaccine, however, the world could never return back to it was. Christensen’s predication on the closure of more traditional university rests upon his theory of “disruptive innovation” and the financial consequences that the traditional universities will suffer. However, according to my own research, in fact knowledge can be classified as explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge could be easily transferred while tacit knowledge transfer has to be monitored during the transfer process. Successful explicit knowledge transferred can be achieved online while tacit knowledge has to be transferred through the face to face mode, which means that the nature of knowledge determines the mode of transfer and delivery can be online and offline.[2]


Third, incorporating my own experience in manging universities both in China and UK and addressing these important challenges and issues, we offer the concept of ‘an elite O2O innovative education platform’ which should be considered to play an important role in creating more affordable, accessible, and convenient higher education options for people in a much wider circle.

ELITE O2O Innovation University is a Blended Education Flatform. Why do we need an O2O university and how does it work? What is elite?


ELITE is an acronym of e-learning of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship within an O2O Innovation University@[3] in the global higher education. Almost all the universities and colleges are currently delivering courses online based upon the MOOC experiences since the outbreak of Covid-19. In fact, there are similarities of online delivery around the world as universities have been forced to do so. Our intention of establishment of ELITE O2O (online and offline) Innovative Education Platform is an exploration of an innovative education pedagogy of integrating the delivery of programmes, knowledge, contents and education ethos with a global vision embedded in the teaching and learning strategy built into the technological innovation system of O2O university. This innovation system demonstrates how various features and objectives of innovative and entrepreneurial university can be created, translated, articulated and achieved. The distinctiveness of this system is to highlight that the teaching and learning mode is decided not only with the impact of the virus but also by the nature of knowledge.

[1] Please see further details on China Embracing Innovation Leads to the Future published in 2017 by China Enterprise Management Publishing House. [2] Please see further details on Technology and Knowledge Transfer in China by Richard Li-Hua, published in 2005. [3] Please see further details on Working Paper ELITE Initiative for Creating Innovative and Entrepreneurial University in the Global Higher Education presented by Richard Li-Hua at MoE Conference, 2016, Wenzhou, China.




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