A new report from Jisc, and its US counterpart, EDUCAUSE, outlines shared challenges and technology-rich plans for post-pandemic recovery and enhancement in the future delivery of education.
Entitled The next normal – and beyond, the report documents the first roundtable discussion between 12 college leaders from both sides of the Atlantic, who have a common belief in the power of technology to support teaching and business operations.
Their discussion covered the key topic areas of staff and learners’ mental health and wellbeing, the digital divide, low carbon computing and sustainability, and, crucially, the ‘next normal’.
On the latter point, as evidence emerges to show that learners like and can benefit from high-quality blended learning, combining remote and on-campus, online and face-to-face tuition, the question for leaders now is, how can colleges make that work?
Their broad thinking is that, as a result of the pandemic, learners’ expectations have changed. Students are now more aware of what constitutes a value-for-money education, and they expect their courses to be delivered flexibly, and in a more personalised manner, depending on their needs and preferences.
All group members believe that technology has a part to play in that ideal, as Jisc’s MD of FE and skills, Robin Ghurbhurun, and EDUCAUSE’s president and CEO, John O’Brien, acknowledge in the report foreword:
“Despite our geographical and other differences, there were clear common issues leading to fresh insights, along with a commitment to sharing our challenges and the solutions we are finding or reaching for.
“Coming together in this way as college leaders to exchange our stories of digital transformation has made the world feel like a smaller and more connected place.
“The difficult last eighteen months have shown further education at its best – able to move quickly and boldly to keep education accessible for our communities. We now have a new story to tell about what’s possible.
“But there is much more we can do. We all feel proud and lucky to be serving the students and communities that we do and, by having these conversations, we can do it better. We anticipate that this is the start of a series of joint events and the beginning of a wider conversation.”