Digital transformation is fast becoming a buzzword. But faculty and education staff shouldn’t be put off by the scramble. I know first hand that if you undergo significant technological change at your institution with well thought-out goals, success criteria and proper support, it can create stunning results for students, staff and faculty alike.
At Saïd Business School, University of Oxford we recently had a technological sea change, and having emerged the other side, we are keen to share our experience. That’s why I’m going to be speaking at one of the biggest education events in Europe this year, Instructure’s CanvasCon Europe 2019 on how to deliver a successful enterprise-wide digital transformation programme (Tuesday, 8 October, 2019 at 10:10 a.m.).
Our mission is to be a world-leading business school community, embedded within a world-class university, tackling world scale problems.
Giving the brightest minds currently studying and teaching at Saïd, to make that a reality, the focus had to be on student experience and continuous improvement, agility, experimentation, and innovation.
We have exceptional educators, but in order to capitalise on their expertise, our student experience needs to be best-in-class too. We started with a relatively classroom based one-way system in place that didn’t always provide enough opportunities for students to use their initiative outside of the lecture hall, take charge of their own learning and make the time in the classroom as value adding, discussion based and collaborative as possible.
Any new approach had to move beyond the classroom and help our learners develop the skills and knowledge needed to live and work in a competitive and fast-moving digital economy. With the right technology partner, we knew we could lay the groundwork to instil a polymath mindset – where students are adaptable, flexible, and multi-skilled.
We chose Instructure as our strategic ed-tech partner to help make this a reality, with Canvas (Instructure’s learning management platform) acting as the enabler to make our pedagogy flexible, progressive and student-centred.
In practice, this means enabling faculty and students to interact with course materials wherever they are. It means facilitating the delivery of multimedia content such as video, audio and images, and allowing students to easily upload their portfolios in the other direction. And it means giving our learners the chance to really engage with their assessments and in-depth feedback in their own time, taking charge of their own progress.
The success of our digital transformation programme in meeting these goals, and collective success of the teams at Saïd and Instructure is why we were named Runner Up for the 2019 Real IT Awards Project Team of the Year.
Our consideration in this hotly contested category, with Instructure as a trusted partner, demonstrated our success in working together as an extended cross School team to meet Saïd’s strategic goals, learning and student experience requirements, prove value and return on investment and create a positive and inclusive learning culture.
The route to that end point can be a long road that requires a lot of thought and effort, but the penalty for standing still can be severe too in terms of not meeting student needs and/or losing competitive advantage.
It’s no exaggeration to say that in the present day, education is in danger of becoming mass-produced and unspecialised with diminished value. It is those institutions that can tailor and differentiate their offering by really putting the student at the heart of their own education and facilitate great teaching and learning that will ultimately succeed.
So hopefully I’ll see you at CanvasCon Europe to hear the rest of our story. Who knows – it might just set you on a pathway to your own transformation.
Mark Bramwell is the CIO at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford