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With the view of improving doctoral education, contributors from diverse cultural, political and disciplinary contexts critically analyse challenges and opportunities that impact on the experience of researchers and university staff. Readers are invited to consider their own circumstances and how the presented policies, procedures, values and practices, both common and unique, might either detract from or enhance their performance and well-being. Reflection on lessons learned through the pandemic are incorporated, reinforcing the value of collaboration and mutual respect between researchers and their supporters at all levels, for both the conduct of good science and a fulfilled work life.

Contributors are: Britt-Marie Apelgren, Diogo Casanova, Pam Denicolo, Shane Dowle, Dawn Duke, Fabiane Garcia, Martin Gough, Erika Hansson, Gill Houston, Isabel Huet, Sverker Lindblad, Bing Lu, Alistair McCulloch, Marie-Louise Österlind, Julie Reeves, Manuela Schmidt, Matthew Sillence and Gun-Britt Wärvik.
Digitalisation, Quality and Trust in Higher Education
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated change in the higher education sector across the globe and has required huge efforts and commitments on the political, institutional and individual level. During this period higher education was considered, maybe more than ever, as an essential sector. Providing critical information and, contributing to the delivery of scientifically based solutions to help societies overcome this global crisis, universities also simultaneously maintained core educational activities to secure the academic future of the next student generation. This required a high level of innovation, adaptivity and creativity. The book is centred on three main themes linked to transformation and change in higher education: digitalisation, quality and trust. The transformative power of the pandemic has raised concerns and questions of each of them.

Contributors are: Stephanie Albrecht, Tony Armstrong, Victoria Birmingham, Victor Borden, Bruno Broucker, Uwe Cantner, Helge Dauchert, Harry de Boer, Caterina Fox, Amanda French, Katharina Hölzle, Gunnar Grepperud, Seonmi Jin, Ben Jongbloed, Alex Kendall, Cindy Konen, René Krempkow, Anne-Kristin Langner, Theodor Leiber, Oddlaug Marie Lindgaard, Silke Masson, Clare Milsom, Jessica Nooij, Mark O’Hara, Matt O’Leary, Pascale Stephanie Petri, Rosalind Pritchard, Christopher Stolz, Elisabeth Suzen, Sara-I. Täger, Daniel Thiemann, Lieke van Berlo, Lotte J. van Dijk, Katy Vigurs, Tilo Wendler, and Tamara Zajontz.

Abstract

In digital transformation, universities take a pivotal role in relation to the scientific basis of new digital technologies and the provision of digital education in an academic context. A university system, properly equipped with digital-related human and real capital is essential for driving a country’s digitalisation agenda. This chapter evidences the challenges faced by Germany in the development of societal digital potential and digital universities. German universities find the development of a digital university difficult as the process of digitalisation requires collective cross-discipline working and cultural change. Research activities need to be reconceived in the context of digitalisation, in terms of better and new data and methods. Respective digital solutions need to be communicated to secure engagement. Through digitalisation, teaching approaches will become less didactic and more personalised. Here again, universities need to pursue their ways of reform. Furthermore, the university administration will face a cultural change from pure budgetary administration to sophisticated strategic management. Several logics are evolving, the research logic and the educational logic, the communication logic in research and teaching, and the administrative and control logic. Higher education systems around the world have gone through large reforms during the past decades – although with different speeds and to varying degrees of success. However, it seems clear that Nordic and Baltic university systems are much further developed and more successful than the German one. The case of Germany is one where the need for improvement, for learning from others, and for a positive stance toward self-reflection and criticism is quite obvious. The COVID-19 crisis and the uncovering of many digital weaknesses in the German university system have proven to be powerful push factors. A number of improvements are already visible, such as in online teaching formats, digital exams, and video-conferencing. Nevertheless, policy makers and university managers are still obliged to take further, more purposeful steps.

In: Transformation Fast and Slow

Abstract

Far-reaching and fast-paced transformations in higher education increase demand for continuous staff development and training. Community-based approaches to professional development, especially professional learning communities, can foster professional and institutional development and meet specific requirements on continuing education.

Based on evaluation data of six years and a recent survey on digital teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, this paper discusses a community-based professional development initiative in higher education at a German university and assesses its features and effects. Our findings show an improvement of student-centred teaching skills as well as an intensification of dialogue and empowerment of university teachers. Through continuous occasions for dialogue and long-term cooperation, the initiative enables the development of mutual trust amongst participants and provides ways to transform academic teaching whilst ensuring academic freedom and freedom of teaching. However, successful implementation depends on external support and the necessary infrastructure for cooperation.

Our results suggest that community-based professional developments add value compared to individual formats of staff development, as they improve teachers’ readiness to assume collective responsibility for the quality of teaching and student learning as well as for their own professional development.

In: Transformation Fast and Slow

Abstract

As all higher education moved online due to COVID-19, some instructors were thrust into the digital environment without preparation. Despite enthusiastic efforts to learn and master new tools, many traditional educators quickly became worn out, disillusioned and dissatisfied. Without the direct feedback from students, they felt their teaching was stifled and ineffective. At the same time, there are highly effective online teachers who thrive in this environment and provide high quality education. Are they simply more used to this format or do they possess specific qualities that make them better suited to teaching online? After all, they made the conscious decision to teach online rather than in a traditional, in-person classroom. The exceptional situation of 2020/2021 presented a unique opportunity to study this question. This study explored the relationships between personal teaching preference, job satisfaction and burnout. A quantitative online survey with 114 instructors at IU Internationale Hochschule was conducted to shed light on this issue. Results indicated that overall satisfaction was very high, yet moderate to high burnout levels were a concern. Both satisfaction and burnout were closely linked to personal preference, which has interesting implications for hiring and developing faculty.

In: Transformation Fast and Slow

Abstract

Students are often assumed to be “digital natives”, i.e., to be competent in the use of digital technologies. However, observations in the teaching context show that students do not (or cannot) necessarily transfer skills acquired in their leisure time to the study context. To provide concepts for developing appropriate teaching/learning quality and for the efficient use of corresponding technologies, a database is required to document students’ digital competences. We therefore refer to the European Reference Framework DigComp2.1 as a conceptual basis as well as selected results from surveys of several large universities in Germany. These conceptualise a new self-report questionnaire to assess digital competences. In this chapter, we first address the question how precisely digital competences can be assessed? Second, we stress the significance of digital competences in the first year of higher education under pandemic conditions. While it has been proven that self-efficacy is a predictor of study success, satisfaction and dropout intentions, this chapter attempts to examine the extent to which digital competences mediate this relationship when students experience their first year in higher education only in a virtual environment. For this purpose, we conducted a longitudinal study spanning the first year in higher education. Ultimately, a recording of digital competences serves as the basis for quality-enhancing concepts for higher education teaching to coordinate the sensible use of digital teaching/learning technologies with existing competences or to promote the acquisition of missing competences.

In: Transformation Fast and Slow
Author: Theodor Leiber

Abstract

This chapter attempts to provide answers to the question of why Digital Transformation (DT) in higher education institutions has not been wholly successful. It also looks at how this situation can be overcome through the application of an integrative concept of quality literacy in DT composed of competencies in quality strategies, practice and culture. A SWOT analysis of organisational and individual competencies required for DT in higher education learning and teaching is presented along with preliminary results of an Erasmus+ project on fostering digital competencies of educators and students. These studies help identify organisational, pedagogical and ethical weaknesses, as well as opportunities and challenges in DT. The chapter provides recommendations on how universities can make DT a successful reality and identify DT competencies required by stakeholders.

In: Transformation Fast and Slow
In: Transformation Fast and Slow

Abstract

Emerging analytic methods and technologies are transforming approaches to evidence-based practice in higher education institutions. Several critics have noted that these methods, and especially predictive analytics, have serious limitations that are often overlooked and so perpetuate inequities in practice. This chapter provides a framework for designing and implementing evidence-informed transformations within higher education institutions using techniques that have emerged from a focus on equitable, impactful applied research. It was developed as part of an institutional transformation project that seeks to leverage the institutions advanced expertise and technologies for accessing, analysing, and visualizing data from traditional (structured) and emerging (transactional) big data systems.

In: Transformation Fast and Slow

Abstract

In March 2020 the World Health Organization declared the spread of COVID-19 a pandemic. Subsequently, universities had to make many decisions in response to the changing situation. Now, almost two years later, university management as well as quality management departments need information to learn from these experiences and to react to new developments in an informed manner. In this context, Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (HTW) Berlin, a university of applied sciences with almost 14,000 students, used its business intelligence software based on its Campus Management System (CMS) data to gain insights into changes in student dropout rates, exam registrations, and credit point gains.

The findings indicate fewer dropouts at the beginning of the pandemic and lower numbers of exam registrations compared to pre-pandemic semesters, but also that there might be delayed effects that are starting to emerge. HTW Berlin will use the results of its monitoring of study programmes as a quality management tool to discuss future improvements.

In: Transformation Fast and Slow