Digital Higher Education: Barrier Or Creator Of Bridges
Education leaders are uniquely positioned to spearhead digital collaborations by sharing their resources with other individuals and institutions, pushing the rhetoric of collaboration over individual gain, and creating awareness both internally and externally of hidden inequalities
The edtech community has advocated claims that it improves access, learning, and cooperation. The Covid-19 epidemic put these promises to the test like never before, forcing higher education systems to shift teaching online practically overnight. Higher education leaders are uniquely positioned to progress beyond immediate online learning adoption toward inclusive, long-term digital education strategies that prioritise cooperation over individual gain.
Digital education creates access to information as well as opens participation in the knowledge society. The same is true for Edtech, notably in the narrative fueled by edtech providers, which have long applauded learning technologies as a tool to increase access to education and learning results. Covid-19 and the quick shift to online education in 2020 will place edtech claims and research under intense evaluation. Before Covid-19, fully digitised teaching programs with educational technology interwoven throughout the curriculum were uncommon, with only a few institutions, such as open universities, having built fully digital teaching and learning models. Many feel that the epidemic has pushed the digitisation of higher education and will undoubtedly cause deep and long-term changes.
Edtech believes that digital technologies enable users to get information, utilise learning materials, and engage in remote learning. However, structural inequalities impact 'access,' which is expressed as geo-demographic factors such as location, income, age, race, or gender. The phrase 'digital gap' refers to the social imbalance that exists between those who have access to the fundamental infrastructure required for digital learning, such as computer devices and the Internet, and those who do not.
A new digital divide assumes physical access and investigates the nature of information technology usage. It embodies so-called digital abilities (also known as digital literacy or digital competency) that assist learners in achieving positive learning outcomes in digital contexts but vary depending on education level, culture, and English skills. Because of this gap between students and faculty, their professors may be unprepared to effectively promote and develop students' digital information literacy abilities. A teaching digitalization process must thus be supported by a complete learning environment, cultural change, and investment in stakeholders' digital literacy.
Aside from access, edtech supporters say that technology enhances learning experiences and learning results. For example, it is suggested in the literature that learners value digital learning because it allows for flexibility, engagement, and self-pacing. The usage of educational technology can improve learning motivation and engagement, as well as self-regulated learning and information transfer. Edutech has shown potential in terms of improving critical thinking abilities, sociocultural learning, student engagement, and learner creativity, in addition to learner joy and cognitive skills.
Several factors, however, moderate the favourable learning impacts of online learning. The benefits of digital teaching and learning, for example, are heavily dependent on the learning mode, curriculum design, and teacher quality and style. Furthermore, for effective digital learning implementation, educators must be prepared with proper digital learning methodology. Learning is enhanced when students may select from a variety of learning modalities that are appropriate for their requirements, the instructional objective, and the nature of the learning activity. To execute this, a bigger institutional cultural shift is required in terms of policy that embraces transformative features of digitisation and involves careful planning, digital pedagogy, and suitable technologies.
Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) is a learning strategy that uses edtech to enhance learning both inside and outside of 'normal' classrooms. Through virtual collaboration, CSCL can also introduce intercultural awareness to courses, enhance language proficiency, facilitate virtual student mobility, and enable experiential learning opportunities. It blends experiences of international collaboration with local learning and effect. Structure and culture have a significant impact on educators' decisions to embrace open educational techniques. To enhance digital literacy and capacities, educate on privacy and openness, and consider the function of higher education institutions in a networked society, it is critical to promote collaborative practices at all levels, led by higher education leaders.
Tech evangelists have long connected digitization to social advancement, highlighting how the Internet decentralizes and democratizes information and participation in the knowledge society; sentiments shared by the edtech community. Technology has frequently been praised as a method to increase access, learning results, and collaborative practices, particularly among edtech providers. Furthermore, adopting digital learning needs more than just a shift to online forms; it necessitates a strategy and leadership focused on integrating technology-enhanced learning and digital transformation.
Collaboration may be defined as cooperative learning, globalisation, and collaboration/cooperation among higher education institutions. Instead of facilitating transformational change in the higher education system and redressing injustice, it is critical to enable policies and programs centred on digital education leadership or e-leadership. Education leaders, particularly those working in well-funded institutions, are uniquely positioned to spearhead digital collaborations and bridge gulfs of disparities: by sharing their resources with other individuals and institutions, pushing the rhetoric of collaboration over individual gain, and creating awareness both internally and externally of hidden inequalities that can be addressed using digital technologies. In addition, it is possible to build new constellations and expand on existing university networks because, as, 'pandemics cannot be handled until we have excellent institutions to address them internationally.' The world will undoubtedly face new difficulties in the future that demand international cooperation among all sectors of the global knowledge society.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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