The world is growing more digital by the minute. Although digital transformation has impacted businesses the most, educational institutions also face an increased need for digital strategies.
Ever since the world went completely digital due to the pandemic in 2020, digital education has become a priority for students, parents, teachers, and educational institutions alike.
In fact, European Union issued a policy initiative in 2021 to “support the sustainable and effective adaptation of the education and training systems of EU member states to the digital age.” This alone talks about the importance of digital education for years to come.
There are many advantages of digital education for students and educational institutions. However, there are also challenges related to digital education that need to be considered. Read on and find out how to approach these challenges.
What is digital education?
Digital education refers to the use of digital technologies and tools in teaching and learning. It is synonymous with phrases such as:
- Technology-enhanced learning
- Digitally enhanced learning
- Online learning
- Online education.
Although digital education feels like a natural evolution of education in general, it actually signifies a massive shift in how the whole education system works. HolonIQ research shows that the education sector is still under-digitized, with less than 4% of total expenses paid to digital.
Apart from the investments that need to increase to make the educational industry less digitally laggard to others, the whole educational system needs to adapt to the digital age.
Students need to be taught how to learn digitally; teachers need to apply new teaching methods; educational institutions need to adjust their systems to enable digital education best practices.
What are the benefits of digital education for students?
There are many advantages of digital education in comparison to traditional ways of teaching. The final outcome of digital education ensures that students are more employable due to their digital skills - the ones they spontaneously pick up while engaging in online courses.
In a traditional classroom, students have to keep up with the pace of the lecture. However, digital education gives students more possibilities to learn at their own pace.
With recorded sessions, they can stop and replay parts of the lecture. Moreover, it gives students opportunities to learn more. Thus, teaching and learning can be personalized to fit every individual’s cognitive skill set.
Digital education prepares students for the job market in more ways than one. One of the learning and teaching techniques students can master is cooperative learning. Students will be equipped for successful team collaboration in their future careers when they learn how to deliver a project as a group in an online environment.
Traditional teaching methods include teachers lecturing and students listening. Online learning allows students to connect to their classmates with instant messaging solutions like Rocket.Chat and easily find the answers they need right away.
Ease of access
One of the most significant advantages of digital education is the accessibility of education in general. Students with disabilities can learn and engage in online courses more easily than in traditional classrooms.
Engaging lessons and material
In a digital environment, teachers have more options to engage their students than in a traditional classroom with a whiteboard. Just think of images, audio, and video content.
Moreover, many EdTech incorporate game-based learning techniques that make learning fun and engaging.
Recorded sessions and other educational materials available to access at any time make learning flexible. If they are not currently attending a synchronous session, students can choose when they want to study.
Allowing students to manage their own time is a big part of their learning to navigate their responsibilities. Therefore, it is a great way to empower students to take care of their learning.
Easier progress tracking
When engaging in digital education, students can more easily track their progress. At any given time, students can see an online record of their work, their grades, and the requirements they need to fulfill to finish the class.
Moreover, teachers can more easily identify students that aren’t keeping up with the online course requirements and reach out to assist.
Equipping students for the job market
The ultimate advantage of digital education for students is becoming more equipped to meet their future jobs’ requirements. As a matter of fact, 84% of students believe that digital learning technology can improve their education.
While engaging in online education, students are getting familiar with multiple technologies. They are, in a sense, getting naturalized to digital tools, which they’ll use in their future workplaces.
What does going digital mean for educational institutions?
Most higher education institutions officials are aware that digital education is challenging but that it also makes their institutions more competitive.
In other words, universities that incorporate digital education best practices will attract more students - and funding - and achieve better learning outcomes, i.e., make their students more employable.
But, what does digital transformation specifically mean for educational institutions?
Adopting and investing in new technologies
Most universities already use digital technologies in teaching and learning. However, the EdTech market is growing by the day, and it’s getting harder to choose the right solution. Data shows that the education industry will spend $404 Billion dollars in 2025 compared to $227 Billion in 2020.
➡️ Learn which 10 EdTech companies are transforming the way we learn.
Related to that, educational institutions must not only ensure that the new digital tools they introduce will fit in their existing systems well, but also that the technology is user-friendly. Thinking of students’ and teachers’ experiences while using new solutions will ensure the best outcome of the whole digital education process.
Educating staff and teachers in using digital tools
Students most probably won’t have a lot of issues adapting to the technology used in digital education. However, teachers and other faculty staff might have.
Research shows that 70% of public sector employees believe their digital skills are poorer than those of private-sector employees. This might require universities to invest in training their faculty and staff.
In order to fully utilize the opportunities that digital education offers, teachers must enrich their teaching techniques. The rising influence of AI in digital education can prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow, but teachers must also stay in the now with teaching methods.
Greater cybersecurity investments
According to experts, educational institutions aren’t doing enough to protect their networks. And yet, despite the increase in cyberattacks, universities in the US will have to cut back their IT budgets by 5 to 30% due to the health crisis.
This is alarming because the education sector was ranked the least secure major industry. The abrupt switch to digital education in 2020 led to an increase in cyberattacks against universities, whose average cost was $477,000.
Greater cybersecurity investments can be subsidized with government investments. For example, the German government issued a €6.5 Billion pact to help digitize schools. Educational institutions can use similar initiatives to cover the rising costs of cybersecurity that come with digital education.
How can educational institutions mitigate the risks related to digital education?
Data security risks are increased with digital learning. Therefore, educational institutions must uphold higher data protection standards.
This not only includes strengthening IT networks but also opting for secure new technologies. This is sometimes hard for universities that have a limited budget to acquire digital education tools. For that reason, many higher education institutions turned to open-source software.
➡️ Learn what are the biggest benefits of open source in education.
With open-source software, universities can more easily customize the new technology to fit their complex system, and usually for a smaller price than for proprietary software.
Moreover, the technology used at universities has to adhere to high data privacy standards. In the EU, GDPR is an important regulation to uphold, and GDPR-compliant software is an absolute must.
However, the rest of the world is catching up: Gartner predicts that by the end of 2023, 65% of the world’s population will have its personal data covered under privacy regulations. Thus, universities across the world will have to pay attention to this important criterion in digital education.
Digital education technology for security-conscious universities
Deemed as one of the most secure instant messaging apps in the business world, Rocket.Chat has also been used by over 700 schools and universities to improve the digital learning experience for students and teachers alike.
With open-source technology as the foundation, Rocket.Chat is easily customizable to fit universities’ existing infrastructure while making sure their data is protected.
Find out how higher education institutions can implement digital education best practices with Rocket.Chat, using features that ensure seamless collaboration between students, teachers, external entities, companies, and other universities.
Get in touch with our team and learn how to protect your university’s digital environment while enabling internal and external collaboration.