Digital transformation, the adoption of digital technology, often brings challenges, including a lack of change management strategy and having to adopt new tools and processes.
How can higher education overcome these to stay ahead of ever-changing digital trends? And how can IT leaders foster a digital culture that promotes inclusion and equity?
These were just some of the issues addressed by an EDUtech Philippines panel discussion held in partnership with D2L and moderated by Elmer Pineda, dean at the City of Malabon University.
The Future of Education Is Here
One thing is for certain, as Dr Red Mendoza, innovations and e-learning head at St. Luke’s College of Medicine, said—there’s no going back to pen and paper or sitting in a classroom for a lecture. “There are tools to make your class interesting, and the students will demand no less,” he commented. “The CIO is not the main mover of digitalisation during the pandemic; it’s COVID-19. We all must prepare for a better normal.”
So how can IT leaders and academics support and encourage a digital culture? To address this, Nick Hutton, regional director for D2L Asia, remarked, “teaching is often seen as an individual endeavour”. He stressed the critical need to build a digital transformation strategy for collaboration and as a foundation for the future using the correct ecosystem of technologies.
Digital Transformation as a Continuous Process
Harriet Fernandez, director of the computing and information services office at Xavier University, called for IT leaders to view digital transformation as a continuous process and to be more transparent, inclusive and adaptive in responding to technological changes. She highlighted the need to address the culture of an organisation and the integration of systems and campus information as one of the “holy grails for educational digitisation to improve efficiency and reduce costs”. She also shared her institution’s initiative to optimise workflows by reviewing processes and transforming everything into a digital format.
Dr Ramcis Vilchez, dean of the College of Computing Education, University of Mindanao, also spoke of the importance of constant consultation and support from administration, stating that “digitalisation is really a transformation of the hearts and minds of stakeholders”.
Preparing Students for Tomorrow: Equal Access to Technology
The panel discussed the need for all students to have equal access to technology, with Dr Vilchez stressing that schools must select the tools that suit them and make materials available offline and downloadable “so that everyone has an equal chance of learning”. There was agreement that the key to effective teaching and learning for the best outcomes doesn’t lie in a synchronous video delivery platform. Hutton stated, “IT leaders are now looking beyond this to add the tools, activities and pedagogical styles that can be recreated through a more robust platform that can be delivered in a blended mode—within the institution and in a remote mode as needed.”
Yolynne Medina, educational technology director at Universidad de Zamboanga, described how her institution implemented the HyFlex learning modality when the pandemic started so that any students wishing to remain safely at home could still feel part of a class or laboratory session. “We found this very effective,” she said. “We have to be prepared with tools and equipment on-site so that everybody can feel that they’re learning, whatever modality they’ve chosen.”
Hutton cited the need to prepare students for tomorrow with the skills to help them be employment-ready, including having greater exposure to technology. “The world hinges on technological evolution across all sectors,” he warned. “And if they don’t get that exposure, they risk being left behind in the workforce.”
Elmer Pineda, Dean at the City of Malabon University
Yolynne Medina, Educational Technology Director, Universidad de Zamboanga
Nick Hutton, Regional Director for Asia, D2L
Dr Red Mendoza, Innovations and E-learning Head, St. Luke’s College of Medicine WHQM
Dr Ramcis Vilchez, Dean of the College of Computing Education, University of Mindanao
Harriet Fernandez, Director, computing and information services office, Xavier University