A group of higher education (HE) organisations led by Jisc is calling on the sector to draw on its collective experience of rapidly shifting to online work and study during lockdown and use it to plan for a post-coronavirus future.
Jisc, the UK’s education and research edtech not-for-profit, is working with partners including Universities UK (UUK), Advance HE and Emerge Education to create a roadmap for a digital shift in HE for 2020/21 and beyond, setting out the steps needed to harness the potential of digital technologies and deliver an outstanding education experience.
Jisc’s chief executive, Paul Feldman, says:
“Having delivered emergency technology-enabled learning, teaching and assessment, universities now have the opportunity to embed it more effectively and strategically, at scale in a sustainable way.
“Lessons learned during the first few weeks of lockdown will no doubt shape how universities deliver courses in September this year, but there’s further work to do now to fully prepare for 2021/22 and beyond.
“University leaders have an unprecedented chance to reshape the entire higher education experience for staff and students. To help achieve this, we are bringing together the universities and key sector bodies as partners with us in an important programme called ‘Learning and teaching reimagined'.
“This programme will look beyond the immediate challenges and to explore how, as a sector, we can make the digital shift and re-shape the HE experience ready for when students and staff return to campuses – and beyond. Together we are committed to creating a vision for UK higher education as a world leader in technology-enabled learning.”
Universities are encouraged to get involved by joining a series of UK-wide online events taking place between June and October 2020. The first webinar is on 17 June 2020. The aim is to produce a framework and roadmap for university leaders, which will help them to deliver strategic change for technology-enhanced learning in 2021/22.
Director of policy at UUK, Chris Hale, says:
“We’ve seen a wholesale shift to online provision in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and while universities are by no means new to delivering online provision, this presented a huge sector-wide challenge given the scale and pace of the change required.
“Institutions will be focused on maintaining the highest quality provision for students and will want to learn from and build on these experiences. This represents a big opportunity to think about new approaches that meet the future needs of learners.
“This new programme, through engagement with staff, students and higher education stakeholders, will help institutions to share and learn from each other, and set out new and innovative approaches that will help keep the UK higher education globally competitive."
Nic Newman, partner at Emerge Education and a member of the DfE Edtech leadership group, says:
“With increasing domestic and international competition for higher education, the challenges of supporting lifelong and more flexible learning, and questions being raised about the cost and efficiency of delivering higher education, digital as a strategic question has never been so important.
“Online learning has already grown from a concept to a $100 billion industry. COVID-19 accelerated this growth for certain, but what challenges and current opportunities does this create for higher education? It is clear that a tech-enabled future for HE is both an immediate response to the current situation, and a potential long-term saviour for institutions.
“In these times, no single institution or organisation has the answer for what tech roadmap is needed – but together we do. We welcome this initiative because it will help accelerate the cross-sector collaboration that is required to learn fast, iterate and succeed in these uncharted times.”
Alison Johns, chief executive of Advance HE, says:
“For a sustained model and compelling learning experience for students, institutions will need to embrace advanced technology at every level – from understanding, developing and leading strategic change and approaches, to supporting staff in good practice in their delivery.
“As a sector, we must ensure we have the right structures and support in place. It’s as much about culture change as well; working with institutions and with those leading change, through to those staff living, breathing and engendering the student experience, so that we embrace this change as an opportunity to further optimise teaching and learning, and student outcomes.
“We must work together as an educational community, leading, motivating, supporting and encouraging the shift to this new agenda so that all students thrive, regardless of background and circumstances. This initiative complements our ‘Creating Socially Distanced Campuses and Education project’, both of which support institutions' transform to the new normal.”
Find out more about learning and teaching reimagined, or register for the first webinar looking at how student needs are changing, taking place on 17 June 2020.
Jisc, in partnership with the Association of Colleges, is also running a similar programme for the further education sector.