Universities coping up with the pandemic adopting digital solutions
The process of digitalisation has evolved rapidly. In the past few years, digitalisation was often limited to converting analog data to digital media ranging from vinyl records to CDs. However, today, the discussion about digital transformation includes concepts like artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), cryptocurrencies, big data, and cloud services. The new possibilities have led to growing data volumes and higher speeds at which data-based insights are processed and disseminated not only for businesses but also for educational institutes.
Advancements in digitalisation are gaining momentum, and it also concerns universities. For instance, in Austria, this development is evidence by the fact that the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research has issued a special call focusing on digitalisation, inviting Austria’s universities to participate and submit digitalisation projects.
How are colleges and universities implementing digital solutions during the covid-19 pandemic?
Teachers taking New Roles
In the age of digitalisation, many innovative forms of learning, teaching and pedagogical experience are available to educational institutions. It requires a shift from transmission-oriented teaching towards new forms of coaching and guiding students in their learning processes, based on digital learning ecosystems.
At colleges and universities, teachers are not only crucial role models but also mentors. They need to focus on transmitting specific knowledge and on students’ personal development because studying at university is a vital phase in young people’s lives.
Because of the concept of research-led teaching, a university degree program must familiarise pupils with recent developments, research findings and expertise. It means that we need a highly dedicated and qualified faculty with strong pedagogical skills in virtual lecture halls.
Safeguarding Institutional Privacy Concerns
Colleges and universities intend to appoint privacy officers. New compliance requirements like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation along with the burgeoning use of people’s data have made faculty, staff, and students aware of the privacy trade-offs of giving up information to gain a data-rich culture.
With this newfound awareness of and commitment to privacy, institutional leaders are more willing to invest in technologies to protect privacy. End-users are ready to embrace data-protection practices that they would once have considered too onerous. Technologies, especially those that employ artificial intelligence to recognise and act on sensitive data, are getting more effective and automated.
Creating a Stronger Feedback Culture
In many educational institutions, feedback is unidirectional, where student learning is graded, frequently accompanied by a brief evaluation report. However, at many universities, students also evaluate their professors at the end of a semester, providing valuable feedback on their teaching performance.
Digitalisation also makes it possible to collect specific feedback on textbooks. When using e-books in class, teachers and publishers can gather automated feedback on passages that are hard to understand. These include whether students need more time for a specific passage. It typically means that they have to re-read the text to understand it. Based on the information, teachers could then review problematic topics in class, and publishers could revise difficult passages accordingly in textbooks.
Universities in the Digital Era
In-depth research is required to investigate which methods of personalised and technology-aided learning are effective and how they work. Learning processes are changing, and we also need new forms of teaching. Universities have to address these challenges.
During Covid-19 pandemic and digitalisation, one of the primary questions is what kind of knowledge and skills can be taught online, which topics require face-to-face work in the classroom and which forms of social interaction are required. Direct student-student and student-professor interaction reinforce academic discourse- after all, the goal is to interrogate concepts and discuss them together.