Innovation and changeDigital TransformationHigher education needs a new approach to learning and teaching, says Cisco

Higher education needs a new approach to learning and teaching, says Cisco

Cisco blog post highlights the need for higher education to evolve in line with technology

The higher education sector must embrace digital technology if it is to meet the needs of its target audience, according to a new Cisco blog post.

The post by Renee Patton, the organisation’s US Public Sector Director of Education outlines how the very nature of its target audience – mainly (although by no means all) young and highly connected – means the sector must adapt to accommodate their expectations.

“Most students have grown up online and will expect the same levels of technology in their learning environments as in their day-to-day lives,” it says. “Today’s students want always-on access to the network and resources, wherever they are on or off campus, for a deeper and more flexible learning experience. Traditional, rigid modes of classroom instruction are unlikely to inspire students whose online life outside the classroom is dynamic and evolutionary.”

Future-proofing

The post goes on to say that creating an effective digital learning environment is not just about offering convenience and familiarity to students however and other threats exist.

“For example, lack of opportunity is one major threat; limited or no access to technology will result in an ever greater divide between certain categories of student,” Patton writes. “At the same time, without the technology many young people take for granted in their everyday lives, student experience will suffer, meaning they are likely to be less engaged and retention levels could fall.

“Crucially, their potential future success could be severely compromised by lack of technical proficiency. As a minimum, employers want students who are adept at using technology to connect, communicate, and collaborate with workplace technology. This mismatch between potential employer expectations and how schools, colleges, and universities prepare students for the future workforce has been well documented in academic studies, and continues to be an issue.”

The transformation framework

Patton adds: “It goes without saying that the technology infrastructure must be scalable, secure and reliable, while also capable of managing vast numbers of mobile devices, streaming services and new applications for communication and collaboration.

“Effective digital transformation isn’t just about technology though. It requires a willingness to adopt technology in new ways, beyond administrative process. It must be continual and evolutionary in order to enhance teaching and learning, support business processes and improve efficiency. It also necessitates: collaborative working; vision and leadership; culture; process and methodology, and the technology itself.”

Bridging the gap

Patton continues by writing: “With the right technology platform, solutions, and industry partners, universities are starting to create next-generation learning environments that effectively prepare students for the future by offering access to the tools they need to prepare for the workplace, and providing a fulfilling learning experience.

“Digital technology can supply the framework for supporting new learning approaches that engage students, support new revenue streams, cut operational costs and preserve highly valued school and university brands and reputations. For example, the ability to connect with outside experts, the ability to collaborate and share ideas, or even lecturers with other schools and universities – both nationally and internationally – could increase the number of courses offered and attract more students.”

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