Arizona State University Foundation and the Boston Consulting Group published an interesting report about digital learning. The focus of report is on how the use of digital technologies in postsecondary education impact students’ access to education, student outcomes, and the return on investment for students and institutions. The resulting Making Digital Learning Work study provides interesting data, case studies and best practice recommendations for institutions looking to scale digital learning.For thise report they selected six institutes for an extensive case study: Arizona State University, the University of Central Florida, Georgia State University, Houston Community College, Kentucky Community and Technical College System, and Rio Salado Community College. The first three institutions in this list are public research universities, representing different geographic populations and access missions. The other three institutions include two community colleges and a state-wide community college system. There are all based in the US, which has a different education system than Europe.
The study found that when colleges and universities take a strategic approach to digital learning and invest in the design and development of high-quality courses and programs, they can achieve three critical objectives:
- Deliver equivalent or even improved student learning outcomes.
- Improve access, particularly for disadvantaged students.
- Improve the financial picture by growing revenue while reducing operating costs.
Promising practices in implementing digital learning
On the basis of the review of the six institutions, they identified seven promising practices:
- Take a strategic portfolio approach to digital learning.
The most successful institutions have developed a portfolio of digital delivery models tailored to the particular needs of different student populations.
- Build the necessary capabilities and expertise to design for quality in the digital realm.
Effective online learning depends on courses and curricula that are properly designed for the unique challenges and opportunities of the modality. Institutions committed to achieving online outcomes that are similar to or better than those for face-to-face courses must make significant investments in instructional design, learning science, and digital tools and capabilities.
- Provide the support that students need to succeed in fully online learning.
To help students meet the challenges that many of them experience when learning online, institutions need to offer a network of remotely accessible support structures adapted to the needs of online learners.
- Engage faculty as true partners in digital learning, and equip them for success.
One common barrier to success in digital learning is faculty skepticism. Institutions need to engage and support faculty in the digital learning journey—for instance, by giving faculty a voice in key decisions, providing professional development opportunities, and fostering a culture of pedagogical innovation.
- Fully commit to digital learning as a strategic priority, and build the infrastructure necessary to ensure lasting impact.
Higher-education leaders who want their digital initiatives to continue long after they have departed from the scene need to attract a groundswell of support among faculty and build an infrastructure that ensures high-quality instruction and sustained momentum (such as a central team that can manage the digital learning portfolio).
- Tap outside vendors strategically.
The institutions in our study identified their strategic goals and then carefully determined which functions or capabilities they wanted to develop in-house versus outsourcing. Often, institutions can advance innovation, expand capabilities, and increase enrollment faster through successful partnerships than by trying to build everything in-house.
- Strengthen analytics and monitoring.
In the digital realm, faculty and administrators have access to a cornucopia of data that they can use to engage in continuous improvement. To harness that data, institutions must develop strong research and analytical capabilities, along with the reporting systems necessary to make the data actionable.
Reading these seven practices, I recognise many of them as key aspects of TU Delft open and online education programme. It is always good to get this kind of confirmation.
I can recommend to read the full report. It has tons of interesting information if you want to start or are responsible for digital learning. I would like to conclude with the recommendation of the authors:
The journey of each college or university will be unique, but the set of promising practices described in this report may serve as a useful guide for all institutions.
- Bailey, A.; Vaduganathan, N;Henry, T; Laverdiere, R; Pugliese, L (2018). MAKING DIGITAL LEARNING WORK. Publisher The Boston Consulting Group, Inc. 2018. Retrieved from https://edplus.asu.edu/sites/default/files/BCG-Making-Digital-Learning-Work-Apr-2018%20.pdf
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