The use of digital technologies provides opportunities for innovative curriculum design and delivery that enhance quality and equity in teaching, learning and assessment. It is also increasingly important to integrate digital competence and skills development within the curricula and their intended learning outcomes across all disciplines. As widely shown by the COVID-19 crisis, the ultimate goal is to provide engaging, high quality and inclusive teaching, learning and assessment for all.
As part of the digital strategy and action planning, an HEI should ensure that all its staff is equipped with the necessary skills to fully engage with the opportunities offered by digital means. Not all staff will have the same level of existing skills or capability to fully engage with digital teaching, learning and assessment. HEIs should put in place mechanisms to understand the skills needs of staff and provide a range of support for learning design and delivery from regular training to coaching and peer learning. As with the overall digital strategy, skills need updating in line with new requirements, stimulated by both internal and external factors (changing needs of students, new technologies available, intended learning outcomes, etc.). The HEI should have a rolling plan of action which ensures that staff are provided with support for skills acquisition and development in a lifelong learning perspective.
There are other prerequisites for supporting the use of digital teaching, learning and assessment practices within the HEI. These include resource allocation for skills development, experimentation of new technologies and time allocation for designing new ways of working. It is important to link new teaching, learning and assessment practices to the quality standards of the HEI and policies on equity and inclusion. This can be done through setting up protocols for embedding new practices into the wider HEI.
Alongside the teaching, learning and assessment practices, and the skills needed by staff, are the skills needed by students. In order to make sure the next generations are fit for existing jobs and the jobs of the future, digital competences and skills are critical. There are tools such as the Digital Competence Framework 2.0 which sets out the key components of digital competence in terms of the knowledge, skills and attitudes. The HEI strategy should include the development of a framework for digital competences and skills with associated learning outcomes, designed to equip students for the future and embracing the lifelong learning perspective. HEIs should ensure that the staff have access to training, in line with the framework, to develop the digital competences and skills in students. There should be a vision for embedding digital competences and skills in all courses. This should be reviewed regularly.
There is no one size fits all for the design of approaches to deliver teaching, learning and assessment or digital competences and skills. In addition, there are new emerging pedagogies and technologies which support the role of the teacher in delivering courses and the development of students’ agency. In order to keep up-to-date and allow for the emergence of new practices and tools, HEIs should support an environment which supports innovation and entrepreneurship. This should include opportunities for staff to research, develop and pilot new teaching-learning-assessment practices, and the creation of an environment which is open to trial and error.
HEIs should monitor and evaluate how the experiences of students and staff have been enhanced through the deployment, or improved use, of digital tools and practices. Through the regular monitoring and assessment of digital transformation, linked to the strategy, proven approaches should be discussed with the leadership, and with the wider stakeholder community, creating the opportunity for tested ideas and technologies to be scaled up from single faculties or courses to the whole HEI. In addition, through platforms such as HEInnovate, good practices can be shared with the wider HEI community.