Digitalisation opportunities and challenges in higher education

Digitalisation strategies, challenges, and the digital solutions – were the main topics at a recent online meeting in the EMDIAC network. About 100 participants have joined from universities in Estonia, Sweden, Ukraine, and Germany.

Digital meeting A screenshot from the digital round table meeting in EMDIAC.

The roundtable “Digitalisation in the Academia” June 7, 2022 was organized in cooperation with the University of Tartu, Linköping University and Dnipro University of Technology, within the framework of the project Embracing Digitalisation in the Academia (EMDIAC), International Collaboration for Capacity Building and Innovation.

About 100 participants have joined the roundtable “Digitalisation in the Academia” to discuss the different strategies, the challenges, and the digital tools for teaching, research, and management in the participating universities.

 The project leader and co-organizer of the event Mariana S. Gustafsson, LiU, emphasized that:

- This new network is important as it includes participants from the different roles at the university, such as research, teaching, management, and leadership - and engages them to share their experience of sustaining high quality education and research by integrating new information technologies in their practices. Especially in this time of war, of disinformation and of resurgence of totalitarianism in our neighbourhood, the universities are critical institutions to cope with the new reality through knowledge, cooperation and strengthening of democratic values.

To sustain education in the middle of Ukraine war

One of the speakers, Dr. Mykola Trehub, Vice-rector at Dnipro University of Technology (Dnipro Tech), spoke about their work on sustaining education activities amid the war and how information technologies enabled that.

In the context of the on-going war, he highlighted the challenges of re-building the national and local infrastructures, the demand of a wide range of skills and professions that are enabled by high-tech solutions, development of a high-quality e-learning environment and the key role of the university in addressing these challenges.

Dr. Vasil Navumau, researcher at Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS), Ruhr-Universität Bochum and a partner in EMDIAC, gives us a report from the meeting:

- Mykola Trehub told us that Dnipro Tech has a long history of providing various digital solutions, but it was the pandemic that stimulated them to convert the activities in a digital format.

- On the eve of the war, Dnipro Tech has been prepared to provide educational services online, and adjust to new circumstances. And he told us that they are already developing a plan for the restoration of activities after the war.

Digitalization and AI-solutions at LiU

Joakim Nejdeby, IT Director at Linkoping University (LiU), has presented LiU's strategy of work for 2030 and the enabling role of digitalization in it. Joakim has talked about the university’s rapid adaptation to different work modes in the pandemic years, due to the strong digital infrastructure and the high skilled personnel that made use it.

He has presented several examples of automation and AI-solutions that are carefully considered and introduced in the internal processes of administration, and are now opening for a re-focus from Administrative IT towards Academic IT.

How to enable high quality online teaching and learning

Anna Beitane, Manager of Online Learning Projects at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, Tartu University spoke about Tartu university models for online teaching and learning.

She showed how the internal organization and the principles of steering in the university need to work hand in hand, to enable new teaching and learning environments, that integrate digitalization and advanced technologic solutions.

- She has focused on various aspects of digitalized educational processes, such as the Lifelong Learning Center helping to develop courses, and consulting on the IT pedagogical instruments, the Center for Professional Development ensuring didactic and technical support to sustain a high quality of courses, while the IT Support Service, helping to implement digital transition during pandemic. As a result of this deeply thought-through cooperation the number of e-courses is constantly rising at Tartu University.

While enacting the digital transition of the educational activities during the pandemic the UT proceeded from the systematic approach: the staffs decided what kind of scenarios they would like to implement, then they explored what individual support was needed and afterward launched support groups to assist in the process of transition. Finally, the experts monitored the process and assured the quality of the online and hybrid sessions.

Artificial intelligence for management and decision processes

Dr. Mihkel Solvak, Associate Professor in Technology Studies, at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, Tartu University presented two digital platforms currently implemented in Tartu.

The “UT Statistics” is a tool for management and administration of all teaching and research activities, and the “Dashboard and Grant Funding Matching Tool” using algorithmic processing and open data to match the researcher’s profile with funders and calls, as well as providing assessments on their chances in the grant competition.

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