The digitization does not stop at universities. Only those who manage the transformation to university 4.0, the digitized university, will survive in the toughly national and international competition.
Universities have to change fundamentally and to adapt. There is no longer space for a tradition-oriented self-conception, a change of generations lasting too long, idealized role allocations, auditoriums still looking like twenty years ago, mass lectures without any personal contact, a lack of practical experience and a fixed selection principle.
Only those who get rid of these standard ideals and values are able to open up for new technologies and approaches. This transformation can take place in every university domain: in teaching, in research and in university administration.
Keynote by Prof. Scheer at the GATE Marketing congress 2015
Today’s students are Digital Natives. They are twenty-four-seven networked. Their mobile devices connected with Cloud-Computing, Social Media and Big Data allow to call up learning content anytime and everywhere.
Location and time independence of the learner
Via a mobile device students are able to access learning content all over the world at any time. This allows a much more flexible life creation to them.
New learning dimensions
E-Learning does not only mean to process available learning materials like lecture foils digitally. Today there are already new learning dimensions such as E-Books, MOOCs, simulation models, interactive videos or serious games.
Via internet universities are able to offer their E-Learning contents to students all over the world. So every university is capable to be a global distance university. As a result the university becomes better known internationally and attracts foreign students to study presently at the university.
Individualization of learning
(supporting instead of selecting)
By E-Learning courses of studies can be formed substantially more differentiated. At the extreme, a student can constellate his individual study out of the modularized offer of learning contents. In addition to that learning pace can be adapted individually by realtime feedback which in turn raises the learning success.
Universities have to work towards concluding lifetime education contracts with their students and guiding them individually all their lifes (Student Lifecycle Management). By analyzing the participants’ profiles it is possible to make educational offers that are geared to their present career situation and prepare the next desired career step.
Skills – Blended Learning
If the mediation of the necessary factual knowledge is shifted more and more into the Internet, more communication possibilities between student and lecturer arise. This combination of presence classes and E-Learning is called Blended Learning. The lecturer’s role then transforms from the scientific expert to the coach or moderator.
Because of the close connection between research and teaching some of the drivers of digitized teaching can also be applied to research such as independence of location and time, globalisation etc.
New research dimensions
Internet platforms like ResearchGate worldwide connect researchers with the same research interest. Results do not have to be published in formal formats like journals or books anymore, but can be spread via internet in small presentations based on results.
Virtual research groups
Internet contacts help to find corresponding partners, to coordinate the responsibilities, to create proposals und later on to conduct the project. Video conferences and shared working on the same object by groupware simplify and hasten the working process.
The „Open Data“ approach does not only include compact data for open access for other researchers but also raw data. As a result analyses can be repeated by other researchers anytime. New database concepts (inmemory, non SQL) enable the realtime evaluation of big databases.
Complex research projects with many participants require a professional project management. The preparation of the deliverables appropriately of time and costs is required to prove the progress towards the project sponsor. Here modern IT tools are available for project management too.
University administration 4.0
In the university administration there has to be a CIO (Chief Information Officer) or CDO (Chief Digitizing Officer) who is responsible for the development of the university’s digitization strategy, the provision of the infrastructure and giving the faculties and lecturers suggestions and impulses. Thereby he has to support four divisions: teaching, research, campusmanagement and backoffice.
In support of digitized teaching the CIO determines the hard- and software platforms. These are, e.g. , the operating systems to be supported of the students’ devices as well as a preferably uniform Learning management system (LMS). The tools for developing learning content should preferably be determined university-wide, too.
In a research information system all research projects can be filed. In addition to that companies can be brought together with researchers of the university.
The support of students is developping into an entire Student Lifecycle Management, from recruiting to the end of life.
For the organisational functions finance/controlling, HR, purchase and facility management many universities use standard software, especially integrated ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software. The connection to the processes teaching and research are obvious.
Strategy development to University 4.0
The digitization includes every division of an university and therefore only a integrated strategy can be successful. Because of that it is useful to identify and to evaluate the drivers of digitization and to build the university’s profile based on these results.
Just from the view of teaching different focuses can be build. One type of university can focus on the student connection and the individualization of teaching, the emphasis on skills instead of fact knowledge during the apprenticeship and the lifetime support. However another type of university outlines the internationality, provides multilingual E-Learning content, acquires many foreign students for its digital teaching offers through an interesting internet presence and thereby can be proud of many international presence students.
In relation to digitization of research different profilings of universities are conceivable, too. So universities can focus on the digitization itself as a research area and profile with new methods of data analysis and simulation models in different disciplines. Another strategy consists in maintaining internationally virtual researcher networks and thereby treating new topics on an international level.
No matter which strategy an university decides for, it can’t get away from developing a conception. Within the scope of the strategy especially the necessary core competences have to be identified and, if necessary, be established.
Exactly for this reason the AWS-Institute is concerned with research in the area of university. Especially in the areas teaching, research and administration we develop scenarios that are to identify the organisational drivers of change. Because just if new techniques result in organisational advantages for students, researchers and administration, they can show their benefit and become successful. The AWS-Institute aims to support universities along this way. Together with the universities we identify the strategy appropriately to the core competences and develop scenarios and concepts that enable the transformation into a digitized university. As the founder Prof. Scheer had acted as professor at the Saarland University for years and as there is still a close cooperation with Saarland University, the topic of university 4.0 is near and dear to the AWSi.
More about University 4.0
Publications (in German)
Multikonferenz Wirtschaftsinformatik (MKWI-16), Ilmenau, Germany, March 2016, Technische Universität Ilmenau dblp, 2016, (WKWI: C, VHB: D).
Hochschule 4.0 Technical Report
Whitepaper Nr. 8, 2015.