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Digital delivers borderless opportunities

The recent announcement that the University of Cambridge is to offer online courses aimed at professionals worldwide wanting to upskill illustrates the opportunities that are opening up for universities and students who have embraced the digital teaching and learning revolution.  

This development was foreseen by former Vice Chancellor University of Edinburgh and digital innovator, Sir Tim O’Shea, who stated: 

After all, what’s to stop a student in Syria from earning a degree from Oxford without leaving their country? Why should universities limit their vision, when they can run digital learning exchanges with other institutions around the world, and bring new ideas and experiences to their own students? I’m excited to see how we adapt as a sector to that new world. 

Digital allows universities to be borderless; It enables them to leverage their brand and grow reach way beyond traditional geographical constraints. 
According to the OfS in November 2020, 93 per cent of undergraduates were receiving all or mostly, digital teaching and learning, and this was similar for postgraduate students at 89 per cent.  

Digital teaching and learning is not new, but this is the first time it has been used so extensively and at such scale. What was thought would take years has been done in a matter of weeks and, in some cases, days. The key now, is to not turn back the clock but to embrace what has been achieved and use this experience as a foundation for the better use of digital teaching and learning in the longer term.  

At Kortext, we have millions of students accessing eTextbooks and digital learning content via our platform from 206 nations around the world; 11 more than there are members of the United Nations!  

From access data, we can see when and how often students engage with content which is vital to the success of digital learning, enabling personalised support to be delivered in real time to both maintain motivation and ensure lessons inspire. It’s this combination of better technology and data, with talented and passionate people, that will make organisations excel.  

Kortext has a vision for a more integrated and connected world of education which is driven through partnership!  

At a recent Kortext seminar, then Vice Chancellor University of Exeter, Sir Steve Smith, reflecting on institutions initial responses to the pandemic said:  

The road ahead is not the same road we’ve travelled down… the future isn’t going to be like the past. Delivery will be much more EdTech based. Partnership is the way forward. In everything I’ve seen in the last year, we’ll get through this by working together – turning to other partners who are better at providing things than we are.

It’s that notion that different skills are needed, and they’re not skills that a traditional university has solely; it’s swallowing academic pride and finding trusted partners. The key point is that it’s got to be linked to a national framework to ensure best practice and value.

Research indicates* that students crave an integrated experience – digital natives they may be, but their everyday digital platforms are intuitive and don’t come with instruction manuals!  

Our data illustrates that VLE access to Kortext delivers 60 per cent longer study time, a much greater number of personal annotations and increased collaboration with peers. 

This illustrates that to be a success digitally, the experience needs to be intuitive and integrated, even more so when students are online only and have no opportunity for face-to-face support!

Seamless integration and effective study and collaboration tools will drive improved satisfaction!

The future is bright for the university sector. Digital teaching and learning platforms will facilitate international university brand leverage and the development of a borderless proposition.  

NSS scores will increase as students appreciate the integrated digital experience their university delivers, but to achieve this, partnerships need to be developed and barriers broken down if universities are going to inspire the next generation of difference makers to reach their full potential!    

*Wonkhe / Pearson