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The ongoing experience of living through a global pandemic has starkly highlighted how much we’ve come to rely on digital technology, in almost every aspect of our lives. An estimated 300 million learners around the world were impacted by the closure of schools and universities, having to rely on a sudden switch to remote learning in many cases. This brought about an unprecedented digital transformation of the education sector, one that is still ongoing.
Digital technology has had a significant impact on allowing students to continue to learn during lockdowns and cautious returns to the classroom and created new ways of teaching and interacting with students. From primary schools to higher education, digital transformation has been accelerated by the pandemic and the importance of technology in the education sector is being realised by governing bodies.
What is digital transformation in education?
At its core, digital transformation is the improvement of core business processes to meet the expectations of consumers using technology. In the education sector, the consumers are the students, staff, faculty, and graduates. Students and teachers are the immediate beneficiaries of digital transformation in education, by enabling a broader range of choices for learning, allowing educators to track student progress and intervene appropriately as needed, and allow for greater education equity for students of varying abilities.
Key areas of digital transformation in education
Digital technology has already been a part of classroom education for some time – think interactive whiteboards and the use of tablets or laptops by students, coupled with online curriculum management systems. Emerging digital technologies will innovate and improve education, for both teachers and students.
- Online platforms and learning software – allows seamless shifts from face-to-face interaction to remote learning, connecting educators and students wherever they are.
- Communication technology – integrated video conferencing allows continued attendance of classes, lectures, and webinars, as well as assessment and onboarding new students. Chats allow students and teachers to interact quickly and easily.
- Learning apps/platforms – to increase student engagement, interactive lessons with fun games on different platforms can utilise games as learning activities for different subjects, grade levels, abilities.
- Data analytics – data gathering and processing is necessary for generating insights into student learning, providing more personalised teaching, and support teachers to implement digital learning.
- Cloud computing – technology using the cloud improves flexibility of both teaching and learning, and education equity to support learning regardless of access to physical education spaces.
Challenges of digital transformation in education
Although the way forward for digital transformation in education appears to be smooth and offers many new opportunities for learning with technology, the reality is the shift isn’t always simple. There is an impact on students, and it can affect the professional development of teachers, who are expected to deploy new technology they might not be comfortable or familiar with.
Some of the issues facing education settings when it comes to digital transformation include:
- Legacy systems aren’t compatible with new technology and tools, which require time and money to make workable.
- Connection to the internet may not be optimal at school or at home.
- Adapting to new online systems can be daunting, with new interfaces feeling more complicated and overwhelming.
- Changing processes and systems can be financially challenging, without having a strategic understanding of what is essential and what can be integrated into the existing setup.
- Impact of change on students can be unequal: some will embrace new educational technology, others can misuse it, and some students may be resistant to using it.
How to make digital transformation in education a success?
The challenges of recent years have demonstrated digital transformation is likely to be more successful when the education sector is supported to create a strategy for implementing new IT solutions into existing education systems or making a complete transformation. It helps to identify where technology is needed to improve and enhance the learning experience for students, as well as the teaching experience for educators.
Each education setting has its unique needs, so it can be useful to consider a technology partner with expertise in digital transformation in the education sector. Contact the INTELLIWORX digital transformation experts who can assist your education setting with creating a strategy for the development and maintenance of your digital transformation.