A report by Jisc has made recommendations around digital learning including accelerating the adoption of blended learning and making investment plans to mitigate the heightened cyber security risks that arise from greater dependence on digital technologies.
“Some already say there will be no going back to pre-Covid learning”
Jisc produced the report after engaging with more than 1,000 sector leaders, staff and students through webinars, roundtables, consultations, focus groups, surveys, interviews and case studies.
“Education is one of the last major sectors yet to be radically transformed by the digital revolution, but change is coming,” said David Maguire interim principal and vice-chancellor, University of Dundee and chair, learning and teaching reimagined.
“The digital acceleration of higher education as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is the first harbinger of the revolution. Some already say there will be no going back to pre-Covid learning and teaching models but few are yet signposting the fundamental changes we see ahead.
“We have glimpsed these changes in our research for this learning and teaching reimagined project and they are captivating, energising and, for some, not a little scary,” he said.
The report is split into two sections, one that explores the expansion of online learning in 2020 and a second that looks at how institutions can prepare for 2021.
Researchers identified nine key areas around the digital transformation of learning and teaching.
According to Jisc, universities should use their “strategic and structural planning processes to effect the digital transformation of learning and teaching, ensuring that sponsorship is provided by governing bodies and executive teams”.
Institutions should review their strategic investment in digital learning and teaching and make investment plans to mitigate the heightened cyber security risks that arise from greater dependence on digital technologies.
Universities also need to “think radically about the scale and scope of their learning and teaching activities”, prioritising blended learning approaches wherever possible.
This adoption of blended learning should have the close involvement of students “in all aspects from design to delivery”.
“We know that this is just the beginning”
When redesigning curriculums, universities should ensure inclusivity and accessibility. They should also make sure that they have professional development plans that include digital training, peer support mechanisms and reward and recognition incentives to encourage upskilling.
According to the research, universities, government and funders should also provide additional funding or means to reduce digital poverty as a barrier to students accessing higher education.
“The restrictions on physical contact placed on societies by the coronavirus pandemic have forced universities to confront the inevitability of digital transformation,” said Maguire.
“However, we know that this is just the beginning and we look forward to seeing shining examples of how universities reimagine the exciting digital learning and teaching future,” he added.