Higher Education Forum: 20 theses on digitising teaching
At its mid-term conference on September 9th, the German Forum for Higher Education in the Digital Age (Hochschulforum Digitalisierung) discussed the potential and challenges of digitisation in academic teaching and the higher education system, and the necessary policy framework.
Digitisation offers higher education institutions (HEIs) and policy-makers opportunities that have not yet been fully exploited. For example, digitisation helps to meet existing challenges, such as a growing and increasingly diverse student body. Digital courses can also pave the way for flexible periods of study; take into account the individual learning process; and may foster student mobility. They offer new marketing tools for German HEIs, which are being increasingly exposed to international competition on a globalised market. However, the digital transition creates its own challenges, one of the most urgent ones being the legal framework.
In the German Forum for Higher Education in the Digital Age (Hochschulforum Digitalisierung) more than 70 experts are exploring the opportunities and challenges of digitisation for HEIs. The experts held an interim review of the project at the Digital Turn Conference in Berlin. They summarised their key findings, assessments and demands in a position paper with 20 theses on digitising teaching.
The key points at a glance:
Digitisation in the German higher education system: Digitisation can support the process of differentiation that is currently taking place in the higher education system. Overall digitisation exposes HEIs even more to international competition. HEIs with an excellent reputation in teaching can use digitisation to boost their profile across national boundaries. Not only working students, but also students wishing to integrate a stay abroad in their schedule of studies will benefit from the flexibility offered by efficient online and distance learning courses. This goes hand in hand with the potential to further increase international student mobility.
Digitisation in academic teaching: Innovations in teaching arising from digitisation are not only of a technical nature. It is a question rather of further developing didactics, curricula and the organisation of teaching to engage students in a more individualised learning process, thus raising their level of motivation. Worldwide collaboration between students, teaching staff and HEIs may be entirely reorganised via digital platforms. Hence digitisation quite naturally leads to more internationalisation. However, the enhanced possibilities for engaging in exchange and group work necessitate the adaptation of physical learning venues to serve digital processes.
Removing barriers to digitisation: The experts underline the particular importance of a university strategy, which will decide the success or failure of the respective HEI’s digitisation efforts and is as such of highest importance. To ensure a sustainable incorporation and broad dissemination of digital teaching and learning opportunities, politics must provide not only the financial resources, but also createa supportive legal framework, including a revised copyright
The position paper forms the basis for further dialogue with decision-makers in business, science and politics on concrete actions.
“Whether in schools, higher education or continuing education – we need to exploit the opportunities offered by digitisation more effectively in order to create new pathways to education, bringing together all the stakeholders involved in our education system,” stated Cornelia Quennet-Thielen, State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. “We need to distil proven good practices from our wide ranging experiences. Each HEI should develop its own digital agenda in order to tailor the opportunities offered by digitisation to its specific profile. And our common objective must be to make all research data widely available. Our intended Open Access Strategy will also contribute to achieving this objective.”
The Higher Education Forum on Digitisation is a joint project of the Stifterverband, the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) and the CHE Centre for Higher Education. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Further Information can be found in the publication stated below.