Unlocking Educational Excellence: A Digital Transformation Framework for the Future

 Georgia Read , Marketing Executive at Bodyswaps
October 5th 2023

What is Digital Transformation?

The world of education is undoubtedly becoming more and more digital as the days go by - with a lot of this transition exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, enrollment in online education surged by 170% following the pandemic, and Open and Distance Learning (ODL) increased by 41.7%. While many are hesitant to embrace the digital world - with valid concerns surrounding scalability and safety - digital transformation is key to ensuring the longevity and future-proofing of students’ learning. In fact, students are clamouring for better technology in the classroom - a Deloitte study of Canadian Higher Education students highlighted that 40% of all students were dissatisfied with their instructors’ use of tech in the classroom. According to the same study, students desire innovative, practical, and interactive learning that’s accessible for those with differing needs - something they feel could be achieved with better use of technology in their curriculum, specifically immersive tech.

But what exactly is “Digital Transformation”?

Essentially, in education specifically, digital transformation is the utilisation of digital technologies to create overall educational improvements, improving both student and educator experiences, and crafting new models for education through a new framework of technological support.

Digital Transformation in Education

Significance & Benefits

As Deloitte observed, ‘student-centric technology is key to their future success’ and digital transformation is key to the implementation of such technology. Transforming our current education processes and guiding them with a combination of human, technological and pedagogical drivers is the most effective way to view the prospect of digital transformation: it allows us to equip students with all the skills they’ll need to succeed in the face of an increasingly technological future.

Plus, while initial high investments may be required, digital transformation can lead to long-term cost savings. Automation of administrative tasks, streamlined processes, and reduced reliance on physical resources can contribute to financial sustainability. 

And many digital tools offer improved accessibility and inclusion, breaking down education barriers by creating opportunities for flexible and remote learning. This inclusivity is especially important for students with disabilities or those facing geographical or logistical challenges.

Many digital tools also offer increased personalisation of the learning experience, such as Virtual or Augmented Reality tools that provide immersive teaching, which - particularly when powered by artificial intelligence - can offer a one-to-one teaching experience that is individualised to each particular user. Over 90% of educators agree that VR tech provides differentiated and personalised learning experiences in an effective way.

Potential Pitfalls

Of course, as with everything digital, transformation is not always smooth sailing. Especially for education. There are risks surrounding internet safety, as well as potential difficulties surrounding the age of systems in use at institutions.

Plus, a lack of general technological knowledge on a broad scale can cause issues. While you may have a Digital Champion or team of champions, the digital transformation is only as scalable as the knowledge needed to implement it. And this issue can only grow depending on the size of institutions. 

For example, the Department for Education found that only 9% of 650 schools surveyed were classed as digitally mature, 31% had “a few fundamentals in place” but had “low digital maturity”, while 60% were found to be somewhere in the middle.

And this is why a digital transformation strategy is crucial to ensuring the success of digital transformation at your institution - to raise awareness of potential hurdles and prepare how you’ll tackle them.

So How Do We Implement a Digital Transformation Strategy?

Implementing a successful digital transformation framework at Higher and Further Education institutions certainly comes with its challenges, but we’ve outlined some steps that can help you get started.

Get Investment

To get the investment you’ll need from internal stakeholders (and potentially external stakeholders for funding) you’ll need to:

  1. Have a clear understanding of your institution's needs and objectives for digital transformation.
  2. Develop a comprehensive deployment plan.
  3. Build a strong business case - ensuring that you are demonstrating ROI.
  4. Pilot projects - consider small scale pilots as proof of concept:
    • If your institution runs Healthcare or Business Programmes, consider taking a look at our new research grants we’re running in collaboration with Meta. 25 Healthcare schools and 25 Business schools will receive 2 Meta Quest 2 headsets plus 6-months free access to the Bodyswaps’ library in return for taking part in the research study. Learn more and apply here - before 15th October:

The Right Tech

There’s a wealth of education technologies out there that you could use, so you’ll need to figure out what you should use. Look at the way your institution works now: are there gaps in the curricula? Do your student or career services face certain challenges? Once these questions have been answered, prioritise key requirements that will benefit your students and educators on a scalable level.

Are You Secure?

A secure technological infrastructure is invaluable for scaling up the digital framework and future-proofing it.

Educator Buy-in

Make sure the educators and instructors who will be using the technology within the framework buy into the benefits, and understand how to best utilise it within their curricula or student offerings.

Getting buy-in can be a formidable challenge. Our advice is to first make sure that it’s clear how this new technology you’re introducing will provide specific solutions to hurdles that they’re facing. 

It’s then important to get educators using the tool before even thinking about asking them to get their students to try it. Whether this is by involving them in demos before purchasing a tool or simply in training sessions - make sure to show them why you’ve chosen this technology. Give them the chance to get excited about it, too.

Always Focus on the Student

While a digital transformation framework is also intended to benefit educators and institutions, it’s primarily focused on fostering a student-centred learning environment. Therefore, student feedback during the creation and implementation of the framework is invaluable. It returns to one of our earlier points - piloting technologies can be useful so you can test and iterate to discover which tech your students find most useful to them. You can also monitor student engagement and progress as additional metrics to see the effectiveness of certain technologies.

In the Spotlight

With all that being said, just what technologies are out there that you can utilise?

Virtual, Augmented, Mixed, or Extended Reality (VR/AR/MR/XR)

VR and other XR experiences that prioritise experiential learning through specific, immersive experiences have a host of benefits for students. Soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and interview skills, are a huge focus for XR technology. At Bodyswaps, we’ve helped hundreds of institutions transform their soft skills training. There’s also a large market for hard skills training through XR technology - as seen in the US Navy’s large purchase of XR Flight Simulators.

Artificial Intelligence

AI has been making a splash in the headlines recently, across all sectors but especially in Education. The release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT last year kickstarted a wave of AI innovation and with that comes the consideration of how it can be harnessed to develop beneficial technology. With the frequent improvements to generative AI, especially, there are many different solutions emerging for different challenges within the Education sector.

AI is often incorporated into XR experiential learning tools - such as Bodyswaps’ latest GenAI feature  - to improve learning experience and personalise feedback. But it has many other uses in learning technology, such as for the language learning app Knowji or helping teachers to improve their teaching styles with specific, personalised feedback through apps like TeachFX.

Online Software

You may already use an online platform or Learning Management System (LMS) at your institution to monitor students’ progress, receive assignments and give feedback. However, have you considered how future-proof it is? LMS integration with other future-proof tools is key to keeping them as useful as possible within the framework.

Your LMS’ ability to integrate with future technologies such as AI and VR can have a real effect on student engagement. And on another level, research has even been made into the benefits of the integration of social media into LMSs used by Higher Education institutions. So, needless to say, having an LMS that is able to adjust to the times and implement modern technologies is important as we move forward into this new digital future.

Interested in learning how VR could fit into your digital transformation framework at your institution? Well, good news! Bodyswaps is running an exclusive Discovery Package - where we’ll provide you with everything you need for a successful pilot, including hardware and software. The offer expires at the end of the year, so don’t miss out and download further information by filling in this form.

Graphic of discovery package

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