Together with project partners and members of the HFD community, the Hochschulforum Digitalisierung has defined 14 strategic fields of action for higher education in the digital age, which further differentiate the three overarching dimensions of strategy, structure and culture. The fields of action are briefly described on this page and serve as an orientation framework for peer-to-peer strategy consulting at HFD.
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(1) Profile development of the university
Universities have to deal with their sustainable development and profile building within the framework of overarching strategies. Digitization can be part of overarching strategies that go far beyond this individual aspect and focus on synergies of different focal points. Digitization can often be used in a particularly constructive and productive way if it is seen as part of overarching strategies and thus serves to raise the profile of the entire university.
(2) Strategic goals for digitization in teaching and learning
Formulating the right goals for your own university and deriving a narrative from them is an important element in the further development of studies & teaching. The definition of independent goals for digitization in study and teaching can also be helpful for universities. Such strategic goals for digitization in teaching and learning must therefore be clearly formulated, prioritized and communicated. A clear understanding within the university of what is meant by "digitization in teaching and learning" is essential. Based on this, a mission statement for teaching in the digital age can set a guiding framework for the entire university. The derivation of short, medium and long-term measures at all levels of the university can also be supported by a framework for the further development of digitally supported teaching, from which the faculties/departments can derive specific goals and measures.
(3) Cooperation in the digital age
Especially in the context of digitization, cooperation is the key to successfully shaping digital change, expanding existing forms of cooperation and developing new offerings. Cooperation agreements can be entered into with other universities and non-university institutions in order to expand the university's own offerings.
(4) Research & Development
Research is also playing an increasingly strategic role in the further development of studies & teaching in the digital age. In the sense of real laboratories, innovative approaches from research projects can and should be tested and implemented directly in teaching.
(5) Responsibilities & Decision-making Structures
For the further development of higher education in the digital age, it is essential that top-down and bottom-up processes are dovetailed through clear responsibilities and sustainable decision-making structures and participation opportunities. In addition to the commitment of the university management by actively shaping strategic development, the university must also establish sustainable decision-making structures between the university management and the faculties/departments and define responsibilities at the various levels. It is important that a sustainable continuation of the strategy development and implementation is also ensured in the case of personnel changes, especially in the university management, by means of role descriptions that are detached from people. In addition, all status groups as well as the central institutions and administrative bodies responsible for studies and teaching must be involved in the strategy development as far as possible.
In order for the digital change in higher education to succeed, sufficient human and financial resources must be made available on a sustainable basis. Financing must be secured through sustainable financial planning in cooperation between the university management and faculties/departments. For smaller universities in particular, this can also be made possible through cooperation with other universities by developing and using a joint infrastructure and support structure.
(7) Infrastructure & Equipment
One field of action for shaping digital change is the existence of an appropriate technical infrastructure: Beyond nationwide broadband connections and well-functioning WLAN equipment, the availability of modern hardware and software solutions is crucial for realizing digital application and deployment scenarios. The establishment of meaningful technical infrastructures requires significant financial investments by the university authorities on the one hand and a wise and sustainable selection of solutions on the other hand, which take into account synergies in the university structures in particular, make them possible and are geared to strategic university development planning. The development of technical learning infrastructures is therefore a central task of strategic university management.
(8) Support & Consulting
Effective and efficient support and consulting services can be central to the success of a study. Therefore, such services must also develop strategically in line with the digital change. Especially in the context of the digital transformation of studies and teaching, a supportive framework is also decisive for whether teachers and students use new formats, platforms, concepts and tools. Inexperienced teachers in particular need reliable media-didactic support from professional service institutions.
(9) Legal framework & quality management
Universities should make more courageous use of the existing supportive legal frameworks of the states to promote the use of new teaching and learning methods and the further development of curricula.especially the use and production of digital media in teaching is subject to great uncertainty with regard to the legal framework and possible consequences, for example with regard to copyright, data protection issues or capacity law. Universities have a special responsibility to ensure that legal certainty applies to all employees, but at the same time they should also make productive use of the existing legal framework. This also means that university employees should always have access to the latest internal information and legal opinions and, if necessary, that supplementary incentive systems should be created for application. At the same time, the (further) development of studies and teaching for the digital age as a strategic topic must also be subject to structured quality and process management. This includes in particular the assurance of equal or equivalent quality standards for digital and traditional teaching and learning formats. On the other hand, quality management as an overall organizational task also includes the monitoring of the development status with regard to strategic goals and the continuous development of framework conditions (e.g. infrastructure, services).
(10) Curriculum development
The spread of digitally supported forms of teaching, learning and examination is a key indicator of how broadly digitization has been integrated into studies and teaching. In order to enable and promote the needs-based implementation of digitally supported teaching, learning and examination methods and the use of corresponding digital tools, the use of these formats and tools should be promoted accordingly in the study programs.
(11) Human resources development
Personnel development is an important lever for the implementation of a strategy for study & teaching in the digital age. Universities should make use of the scope for personnel development to drive the digital change in teaching. This is done on the one hand by taking the topic into account in appointment procedures and the expansion of corresponding continuing education programs for teachers, and on the other hand by expanding the personnel structure through science-supporting personnel (e.g. employees in media and didactic centers, instructional designers, etc.).
(12) Incentive systems
In the context of cultural change at universities, it is necessary to increase the acceptance of new teaching, learning and examination formats among many teachers and to motivate them to use such formats in their own teaching. Universities must therefore offer attractive incentive formats for the use of such innovative teaching, learning and examination formats. On the one hand, incentives can be created by enhancing the reputation of digital teaching and involving teachers in decision-making processes. At the same time, monetary incentive structures play an important role. In addition, externally visible awards can also be given as a sign of appreciation.
(13) Internal communication
In order to achieve a broadly effective integration of digital media in studies and teaching, the associated goals and measures must be appropriately communicated to the various status groups within the university. University employees are to be informed passively and proactively about technical solutions for use in teaching, corresponding support infrastructures and incentive systems. This means that information is both generally available and disseminated through various internal communication channels within the university.
(14) Innovation culture in studies & teaching
If the introduction and implementation of digital learning environments is to have a lasting effect, teachers should be won over to something they are not obliged to do in the first instance: to change their teaching habits (for example, from a lecturer-led to a supportive teaching style), to try out new electronic forms of examination, to prepare courses over the longer term in cooperation with external agencies if the learning resources are made available via a learning platform - especially since this makes the teachers' actions more transparent to outsiders. The university, starting with the university management, must therefore create innovative spaces and solutions that support and initiate cultural change processes.
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