Points of attention for digital transformation in education

The education sector must digitize significantly in the coming years. The ambitions are high, the technology is available, yet many institutions are unable to accelerate their digital transformation. Jeroen Stoop and Henri Pater van Mobilee go through some of the key obstacles and how educational institutions can remove them.

The benefits of digitization for education are obvious. Smart use of technology, for example, increases the availability of education because time and place become less important. The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated this more than ever.

The material can also be presented in different ways to promote learning capacity. Everyone learns differently. Or think of personalized teaching materials or supportive teachers so they can focus on those students or topics that require special attention.

Education has made great strides in this area in recent years. For example, most educational institutions already work with digital student tracking systems and work with students’ digital skills.

But much more is possible – a significant group of institutions are slowing down in their digital ambitions. For example, many institutions have difficulty digitizing their educational processes, using new tools (such as e-learning and simulations) or even using innovative technologies such as virtual reality.

In our practice, we encounter various obstacles to digital transformation in the field of education among our customers. Four points of attention to remove obstacles.

1: Invest in ICT competence in education

Within the educational institutions, the teachers believe that they are ICT-skilled, but at the same time people point out that continuing education in digital didactics is necessary. It is primarily about the use of online tools and the use of new working and testing methods.

ICT competence at all levels in educational institutions is a fundamental basis for digital transformation. The technological development in the form of edtech is already there and is already being used, but they also encounter structural obstacles.

For example, at one of our clients, a high school, we saw a tender process for an online learning environment. The specifications were a copy of tenders from other schools because specific knowledge was lacking to prepare them themselves. After completing the course and implementing the product, the new learning environment was not used by their teachers.

Therefore, we have re-analyzed the pedagogical processes supported by the new learning environment. We have adapted the use of the application accordingly, with attention to educational strategy, adoption, didactic added value, organizational changes and compliance, such as privacy and security.

This shows that if knowledge or experience is lacking, a successful implementation is virtually impossible. With all the negative consequences it entails.

2: Get the right people in the right place

If you want to change, clarity helps. Make sure that it is clear who or which department within the educational institution is the contact point for initiatives aimed at educational innovation.

Think of the people who work with it, the people who support it, as well as one or more content experts at the board level. In addition, clear processes must be set up.

3: Provide budget, resources and facilities

The lack of a budget means that digital initiatives are funded on an ad hoc basis. Funding is often allocated only to temporary projects, and that sense of temporality stands in the way of structural innovation.

In addition, the annual budget cycle is still often the norm in educational institutions. If the application is late, funding can only be applied for one year later. Employees must also be available in the process of educational innovation with digitization.

4: Provide a clear approach

As with any change, digital transformation starts with vision and strategy. A transformation without a (clear) vision or strategy in terms of digitization or innovative technologies in teaching leads to reactive and ad hoc efforts instead of a proactive and strategic approach.

The corporate culture follows from the strategy and vision. Many professionals in education still have a traditional view of ICT and education. They believe that a new tool makes their lives easier, but educational innovation is more than that.

That mentality needs to change to stimulate the adoption and implementation of technological development to enrich education. Such a change is a continuous process.

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