Digitalisation World Issue VIII 2021

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How can data help universities to create – and maintain – an effective blended learning model? Blended learning is a concept which surged in adoption alongside the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK back in March 2020. BY CAROLINE LEWIS, FROM WORKPLACE DATA ANALYTICS FIRM, TIGER FOR STUDENTS AND TEACHERS, it is the educationsector equivalent of hybrid working – seeing more teaching and studying taking place virtually than in physical classrooms. And while many schools, colleges, and universities have now returned to in-person teaching, there are still institutions that are making the most of remote operations – or planning to make this a core part of their strategy as they look ahead to 2022. Here, Caroline Lewis, sales director at workplace data analytics organisation, Tiger, explores how data can help universities to create – and maintain – an effective blended learning model, and how harnessing vital data insights can help to enable this.

The digital transformation scene in higher education In today’s ever-evolving digital landscape, reliance upon technology to help complete daily tasks – both in and out of a learning or working environment – is greater than ever. However, rewind to the start of 2020 and perhaps this was not as prevalent in the education sphere as it is today. In fact, March 2020 acted as a wake-up call for many schools, colleges, and universities alike – seeing digital transformation projects soar and teaching make the overnight transition from face-to-face to completely virtual. While some higher education (HE) institutions were more au fait with delivering part of a course online, few were geared up to do this for every lesson or seminar – new processes and habits therefore had to be formed. It was a steep learning curve which saw high numbers of education establishments make investments in unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions – such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams – at pace. They did this not only in order to bridge the physical divide between teachers and pupils but equally to help learning continue seamlessly. Despite it taking time for all sites to adapt to this new style of teaching and studying, it quickly became a crucial part of the education puzzle during the various lockdown periods, and has since become a mainstay for many within the sector. In May 2021, it hit the headlines that a third of Russell Group universities said they intended to carry on with a blended learning model in the next academic year. And this is followed by a recent freedom of information (FOI) request which has revealed 69% of the 61