How are universities and TAFEs re-imagining teaching, research, administration and campus design in a more digital world and post COVID?

The report’s authors, Vector Consulting, suggest that there will be profound and transformative changes.

The report

This independent study, commissioned by Cisco and Optus, is entitled The Tipping Point for Digitisation of Education and Campuses. You can also visit Cisco’s blog page for some other resources, including a 3-minute video insight from Reg Johnson, CISCO’s General Manager Education.

The messages

The report? Well, it’s pretty university focused, but there are messages there that do, or could equally, apply to VET.

Changes to campuses

First, the report argues that there will be fewer people on campus, and:

“The acceleration of remote working – alongside the continual rise of blended learning – will lead to more staff and students working and learning at home or in their local neighbourhoods.”

This does not mean that campuses are dead, but it may mean that more gets spent on digital and cloud technologies than building more buildings! At the end of the day campuses are a place for people to meet and interact, especially young, international and more mature students. There is no escaping the need for campuses where practical learning is a key feature of the program either. This means that campuses will increasingly become places for collaboration and peer-to-peer learning. Health and safety will also become a more important driver of campus design, the report suggests.

Finally, campuses will increasingly incorporate immersive and simulated workspaces, innovative and co-design maker spaces, informal common spaces and smart classrooms and be co-located in industry precincts “to bring together students, SMEs, start-ups and industry.”

Changes to teaching and learning

Vector Consulting found that educational leaders across the higher ed. and VET sectors believe that teaching and learning will become more personalised and engaging, with more authentic assessment. It will also be more highly focused on collaborative learning and the development of human skills and digital literacy. Learning will become more accessible anywhere, anytime.

OK, this has all been the trend for some time now as readers of VDC News will be very well aware, but COVID has really helped put the ‘pedal to the metal’ on some of these changes, and particularly the roll out of more blended approaches to learning.

Funding the changes

Moving to digital will demand a greater share of university and TAFE investment, Vector Consulting suggest. This is OK, they believe, because the returns are likely to be better than building more infrastructure. This may mean adopting cost-saving strategies “such as rationalising courses, incentivising research productivity and better utilising existing space,” asset sales and redirecting expenditure from capital works towards digital solutions.

Making the changes happen

The ‘must-dos’ involve getting digital platforms in place that are cloud-based, automated, scalable and really secure; prioritising digital expenditure and extracting more value out of industry partnerships. The report argues that this has already happened to some degree in VET.