Digital University: A critical need for Higher Education

December 7, 2018 · news

Higher education is evolving significantly due to developments in field of digitisation and globalisation. This trend will continue till the next decade. Higher education institutions (HEIs) are competing to get student enrollment, capital and better positions in league tables and only those who are advance digitally will stay in the competition. In order to contribute to the digitally  evolving knowledge society, HEIs must reform their pedagogic and curricula practices, structures and processes and aim towards a “DIGITAL CAMPUS”.

Many HEIs in India think just building digital infrastructure system will make their campus digital. They are making huge investments in IT systems such as digital entrance systems, automatic sensor systems for sanitation facilities, etc., which , though important, do not bring the  institution the outcomes they seek and benefits they desire. So, what does a “digital campus” actually mean? A digital campus senses the students, teachers, and staff, present in the campus and tracks their activities daily. It delivers relevant interactive information and apprises the leadership on ways to improve the institute’s performance, students’ experiences and overall outcome, in general. For prospective students, a digital campus should offer them a richer digital experience to explore different campus surroundings. Besides digitisation of the campus, virtual reality technology and artificial intelligence should provide more accurate and rapid response to the students’ queries. Advanced analytics system should enable HEIs to be more proactive in their approach towards students, teachers, and the university itself. Using data from various internal IT systems and sources, HEIs should analyze the results for improving academic performance, student retention or employability rates.

Cloud-based IT systems can transform and deliver an innovation change. With greater accessibility, little financial outlay, and better security, the cloud-based IT can be used to share learning and management resources such online admission, fee payment, class schedules, academic calendar, course syllabus, reading materials, lecture notes, class bulletin boards, attendance, flipped classroom, exam registration, results and grievance redressal. Many research studies have revealed that students who have access to ICT Systems have high-level meta capabilities such as self-regulation of learning, creativity, knowledge construction and synthesis, information management, adaptability, and digital competencies required for the 21st century.

However, digitisation is not devoid of its fair share of complications and hurdles. HEIs, without a clear vision on digitisation, are less likely to efficiently respond to the demands and challenges of the students, faculty and stakeholders. Some key reasons such as feebleness, lack of trust on digital tools and techniques and lack of digital literacy are hindering the uptake of digitisation. However, commitment and a charted vision combined with a strategic roadmap will prove helpful in accomplishing the digital change. The digital system must be scalable, flexible and “fit for all” (accessible) united with its perceived capacity for the enhancement of learning outcomes of students, faculty and stakeholders.

Digital campus empowers students to bring innovation through best practices, using digital tools and techniques. With the support from management, an institution can transform into a vibrant institution. It is the need of the hour for HEIs to encourage digital change and attain the substantial benefits linked with its digitisation.

 - By Kumara Swamy T R & Vasudendra C S, Research Analysts at QS I∙GAUGE