The recent years, European governments and higher education institutions have shown increased interest in the quality and excellence of teaching and learning and in developing instruments to achieve high quality teaching. (Kottmann, A., Huisman, J. et.al., 2016). This is also the case in Norway. Spring 2016, the Norwegian Minister of Education and Research invited Higher Universities and Colleges and other relevant institutions to describe educational quality work and recommend how excellent educational practices can be promoted by governmental and local initiatives. The minister needed the information to prepare a White Paper about Quality in Higher Education that is published January 27th 2017.
In this paper, I write as a member of an expert group affiliated with Norwegian Agency for Digital Learning in Higher Education. This group has a special responsibility for issues concerning educational quality, digitalization and active learning. Our point of departure is that people who work with quality in higher education need to think about how educational institutions can take advantage of digital technologies in their pedagogical work and prepare young people to deal with developments and challenges that emerge in technology rich societies.
The European Commission’s High Level Group about Modernization of Higher Education, clearly points at digitization as a change driver for quality development of higher education, writing that “new and emerging technologies are already starting to have a transformative effect on higher education provision. There is every reason to harness the potential of these developments in the service of high quality higher education. But to do that effectively we need to both widen and deepen our understanding of how these new technologies and pedagogical tools can be an integral part of the way higher education is delivered, and identify what measures can be taken to further stimulate, facilitate and advance it.” (p.14)
Not only do students live in a digital time, they shall also work in, contribute to, and relate to the fact that our digitalized society and work life changes. In five, ten, twenty years many of our current jobs will not exist anymore and new jobs or societal structures need to be created. It is a task for higher education to equip our graduates to succeed in such a context. This calls for authorities and policymakers that, in a coordinated manner, highlight that implementing and exploring the educational potentials of digital technologies is associated with educational quality. In its Trend Report (2015), European University Association (EAU) lists digitization, internationalization and demographics as the three main trends that European higher education must adhere to.To get insight into how different institutions describe the relation between digitalization and educational quality, as well as the development processes and -plans of higher educational institutions, we have analyzed 21 answers to the Minister’s invitation to investigate
- To what extent and in what ways do the institutions connect digitization to educational quality?
- What do they describe that they already do to ensure that digitization promotes educational quality?
- What further actions do they propose?
- Who is given responsibility for the different proposed actions?
Clarke, V., & Braun, V. (2014). Thematic Analysis. In T. Teo (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology (pp. 1947-1952). New York: Springer. Damşa, C., de Lange, T., Elken, M., Esterhazy, R., Fossland, T., Frølich, N., ... & Stensaker, B. (2015). Quality in Norwegian Higher Education: A review of research on aspects affecting student learning (Oslo: NIFU). European commission (2014), High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education Report to the European commission on New modes of learning and teaching in higher education, URL: http://ec.europa.eu/education/library/reports/modernisation-universities_en.pdf Kottmann, A., Huisman, J., Brockerhoff, L., Cremonini, L., & Mampaey, J. (2016). How Can One Create a Culture for Quality Enhancement?. Trends 2015: Learning and Teaching in European Universities, URL: http://www.eua.be/activities-services/news/newsitem/2015/05/07/Trends_2015_the_changing_context_of_European_higher_education.aspx
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