The study further highlights that digital transformation can help address challenges in student recruitment and retention
Johannesburg, South Africa – 9 November 2021 – D2L Inc. (TSX: DTOL), a global learning technology leader, today announced the results of a survey of more than 450 higher education professionals in South Africa, which has revealed an increase in digital transformation across the sector. The survey found that 55 per cent of respondents are motivated by the need to enhance the student experience, 51 per cent are driven by the need to improve course quality and 43 per cent are motivated by the need to increase student enrolments. Compared to respondents from the rest of the world, those from South Africa report the greatest positive change in attitude towards education technology due to the pandemic.
The study further highlights the need for higher education institutions to put the student learning experience at the centre of its digital transformation agenda. Here, 53 per cent of the respondents reported that improving student engagement is the key objective for their transformation projects, while another 53 per cent indicate improving learning outcomes, and 48 per cent indicate improving student retention and completion.
Despite the positive shift, the study reveals that South Africa is behind Europe in terms of the digital transformation in education. Only 7 per cent of respondents offer all their courses fully online, in comparison to 16 per cent from the UK. Barriers faced while implementing digital transformation strategies in the country include internet connectivity, access to suitable devices and the academic digital skills gap.
Before the pandemic, the majority of institutions had less than half of their learning offering available online despite nearly 9 out of 10 universities having started implementing their digital strategy sometime before 2020. The crisis accelerated efforts to implement digital strategies in South Africa and as a result, there now is an increased number of courses available online for students, growing to 59 per cent.
“Change is starting to happen and it will probably be like a domino effect. The pandemic has forced a long-term shift in the way we think about EdTech and digital transformation, and it’s a good sign that higher education institutions are putting the student experience and learning outcomes at the centre of their strategies,” said Stewart Watts, Vice President, EMEA, D2L. “More than 90 per cent of respondents in South Africa say that institutions need to digitally transform to enable future growth, and improving digital skills within the academic community is also a top priority.”
The next steps for digital transformation
Overall, respondents in South Africa have seen an increase in the level of digital skills within academic and learner communities, which, at 59 per cent, is higher than that reported in the UK (46 per cent) and Benelux (39 per cent). Similarly, a significantly higher proportion of respondents in South Africa (58 per cent) report the introduction of new learning technologies to improve the digital learning experience, compared with their colleagues in other EMEA countries which is 48 per cent in the UK and 41 per cent in Benelux.
“The next few years are likely to herald significant changes across the higher education sector and the push to improve digital skills is welcome,” concludes Watts. “With many institutions fully committed to investing in infrastructure and staff training as a priority, we will likely see a net positive for the education sector, as new pedagogical methods are enabled that can greatly benefit universities, staff and, most importantly, the students. For South Africa specifically, digital transformation will lead to improved skills and capabilities that will be indispensable as students and staff innovate with new technologies.”
For further insight into the state of digital transformation across HigherEd in South Africa visit: https://www.d2l.com/en-eu/resources/assets/embracing-digital-transformation-in-education/
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D2L is transforming the way the world learns – helping learners of all ages achieve more than they dreamed possible. Working closely with clients all over the world, D2L is supporting millions of people learning online and in person. Our more than 1000 global employees are dedicated to making the best learning products to leave the world better than where they found it. Learn more about D2L for K-12, higher education and businesses at www.D2L.com.
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D2L Brightspace is a cloud-based learning platform built for people who care deeply about student success and helping to prepare them for what comes next.
It gives faculty across your institution tools they’re going to love, makes it easy to support exceptional student experiences in the classroom or fully online. D2L Brightspace is designed in close collaboration with clients around the world – building a pedagogically rich set of features to improve engagement, retention and learning outcomes. It also makes it easier to do assessment and give feedback.
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