Higher Education Digital Transformation: A Short Guide for HE Innovators

 Georgia Read , Marketing Executive at Bodyswaps
November 17th 2023

Know your institution could benefit from new technologies but unsure where to start? We’ve put together a guide of the key steps to consider for implementing a higher education digital transformation.

What is Digital Transformation in Education?

Already know all about digital transformation? Jump to our guide for HE innovators here.

Digital transformation is a series of deep and coordinated culture, workforce, and technology shifts that enable new educational and operating models and transform an institution’s business model, strategic directions, and value proposition.”

In other words, digital transformation is the utilisation of new technologies to create overall educational improvements, enhancing both student and educator experiences, and crafting new models for education through a new framework of technological support.

We’ve previously discussed the significance, benefits and potential pitfalls of digital transformation in education. In this blog, we’ll look at various strategies for implementing digital transformation in higher education institutions specifically, including how it can bridge the gap between classroom learning and experiential learning, and how student services can elevate their career offerings through new technologies. Toward the end, we'll showcase a sample strategy to give you a firsthand look at how this transformation could take shape.

From the Classroom to the Real World

Traditionally, classroom-based learning focuses on theoretical concepts and instruction, lacking the opportunities to provide students with the chance to apply their knowledge in real-life situations.

Experiential learning, on the other hand, offers students the possibility of immersing themselves in practical simulations that replicate reality. Through experiential learning, students can see how theory evolves into practical application - imbuing them with the confidence to utilise their skills in the real world. 

Through immersive learning technology such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) you can give students the chance to engage with experiential learning within the classroom. Students can bridge that gap between theory and practical application in a safe, private space. In doing so, students have the chance to develop skills they can bring into the real world with more confidence.

Transforming Higher Education Student Services

The classroom isn’t the only place that can be enhanced through digital transformation. With the vast number of careers-focused technologies already on the market, there’s a variety of ways that Student and Career Services can enhance their employability services.

Digital Experiential Learning

Digital experiential learning can also be harnessed within these services, offering students opportunities to develop employability skills through VR workshops.

Online Events

Events such as careers fairs, alumni talks, and advice sessions, which previously could only have occurred in person, can now occur online, opening them up to a wider range of students who may not be able to attend in-person events.

Alumni Networking & AI-Powered CV Support

There’s the broadening of alumni networks thanks to technology, which offers students more networking opportunities. And there are a number of AI-powered CV and cover letter assistants to help students with crafting these essential aspects of many job applications.

Want to hear some first-hand experiences on implementing digital technologies specifically for Careers Services? Check out our Empowering HE Student Services webinar recording.

Our Short Higher Education Digital Transformation Guide

Discover the key steps to implementing a digital transformation at a higher education institution, informed by our own experience with integrating new technologies in universities.

1. Define data-supported objectives

Gather data and insights on student performance, learning, engagement, and behaviour to define areas for improvement. There are a number of ways this information can be collected: interviews, focus groups, and surveys, as well as results from tests and assessments. Once you have this data, analyse it and highlight the potential technology that could make changes in the areas that are most in need.

Example: You discover student confidence in situations including interviews, presentations and negotiations are low. And you want to improve these in order to improve student outcomes and graduate employment rates.

Immersive learning is one of the best methods to improve student confidence, and through research, you identify this would be the best solution for your students. The objective becomes using immersive learning to build job-readiness in students to enhance graduate employability.

2. Involve your key stakeholders

Get staff, students, and administrators involved; get their input on how they would like to see new technologies implemented. Allow stakeholders to trial new technologies to get early feedback and buy-in with the digital transformation.

Example: You’ve decided that Bodyswaps is the immersive learning technology you feel will be the best solution for soft skills at your institution. Bring in a range of faculty and students to trial the technology, experiencing the technology first hand is where we see the highest engagement levels. From this session you discover the best way to start implementing the training to a larger group of people in your context.

3. Outline your strategy

Make sure you have an initial game plan for how you want to deploy your new technology. This plan may change as you begin to integrate the transformation, so it’s important to remain flexible.

Example: You speak with the Bodyswaps team to get support with an initial pilot plan and how the technology can be scaled from there, there is no one-size-fits-all and we’ll be happy to guide you.

4. Test and iterate!

Hold training sessions for staff and pilot sessions with staff and students - start small so you can test and iterate with the technology to figure out the best method of implementing it in a scalable way. It’s vital to be open to feedback and flexible about adjusting your deployment plan, as hurdles may crop up which require adjustments to the transformation. 

Example: Following stakeholder buy-in, you organise a series of pilot sessions to observe the impact of Bodyswaps on your students. You focus on their journeys through using the software, taking feedback on how students feel using the training and how they feel it could best be used elsewhere within your institution.

5. Scale it up...

Once you’re confident in your digital transformation plan, begin to scale up the integration of the new technology, continuing to test and iterate as it’s adopted throughout the institution. 

Example: Informed by observations from the pilot, you begin embedding Bodyswaps into targeted  departments where the training will be vital for students. As more students and staff use the technology, you gain further feedback on where the technology could go next.

This short guide serves as a starting point to initiate the planning process for your digital transformation. For a thorough examination of digital transformation frameworks in higher education, we suggest referring to the JISC framework. It offers a comprehensive report on the adoption of new digital technologies in higher education.

Implement Immersive Soft Skills at Your Institution

If you’re considering implementing an immersive learning digital transformation of your own, Bodyswaps is currently offering an exclusive Discovery Package which will provide you with the support, the software, and the hardware you’ll need to deploy a successful Bodyswaps pilot. It’s only available until the end of the year, so don’t miss out - download more information today:

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