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From Buzzword to Baseline: Digital Transformation in action

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WONKHE@Home

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Debbie McVitty

linkedin.com/in/debbie-mcvitty-59769146 

Debbie McVitty introduced the panel with the following preamble. We would be reflecting on digital transformation: organisations, cultures and practices.

  • That technology imposes on every aspect of our lives.

  • What this means for university cultures and how we teach and communicate with students.

  • A warning that Covid has created a crisis condition that has forced us onto a testbed preemptively - not everyone was ready for it. 

  • And the difficulty of trying to add change to old platforms and practices. (The recommendation is to start again on an entirely different space and then fold the successes into the university online space). 

  • The first speakers were: 

  • Patrick Mullane, Executive Director, Harvard Business School Online

  • Rebecca Galley, Director, Learning Experience and Technology, Open University.

My own reflection on this is that it helps to have an understanding of the 'diffusion of innovations'. Going digital with has been a clear case of innovators and early adopters (The Open University, Coursera, Duke University, Coventry University ), as well as late adopters (Oxford and Cambridge University) and laggards (FE colleges and Secondary Schools?). 

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How do you get students to engage online?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 24 Nov 2020, 17:57

Digital Transformation in action : Part of WONKHE@Home Online Summit 

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Patrick Mullane, Executive Director, Harvard Business School Online >  linkedin.com/in/pjmullane

We teach digital transformation, it is NOT about platforms but about everything that wraps around it. The Covid experience may set us back as so many institutions rushed to get online and created a poor experience .

  1. Pedagogy > the way you teach when it is technology enabled. Lectures are dull in person, deathly online. Simply putting what you do face to face online will be dreadfully boring. 

  2. Leadership commitment > not a dip of the toe in the water, but a commitment to the path with money and time. 

  3. The Core competencies you need online are different to online> If you do not make digital marketing a key competency within the university you will not succeed/ There must be a robust marketing facility internally to let students know what there is. We made incredible platforms and spent a lot of money expecting students to turn up and they did not.

  4. Legacy > have realistic expectations. It won’t change overnight. It won’t reduce cost.  

  5. Restructuring for the new world > it is not enough just to have the technology. If you are doing something new it will be better to do this somewhere else. When successful, fold it back into the current structure … which may have to be blown up so that you can start again. 

You will be planning a path where there will be failure. 

Having a technology department is NOT the same as having people who understand pedagogy and can design student centred learning.

Harvard used the ‘Aristotelian - the case method’ in which a tutor leads a discussion and with the students you reach an ‘aha’ moment. Inductive learning required ways for students to take part, to challenge each other … 

Interaction is essential. 

A lot of support, in the community, makes for the overall learning experience. 

Simplicity for the students creates complexity in the backend. But the end objective has to be the simplicity for the student.  

Students know how to crowdsource answers to questions so once the platform has been created the faculty can walk away. 

Don’t let complexity get in the way.

Bespoke platform built by Harvard Business School online.

Have a clear idea of what success looks like at each stage and build on that. Commit to two or three experiments. Either commit and do it well, or fail. Certificates for example are inevitable.


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