5/17/22 · Institutional

The five keys to the digital transformation of universities

UOC organizes talk on the future of education during week in which Barcelona will be hosting a number of international meetings of experts in the field
UOC President Josep A. Planell will set out the key aspects to the digital transformation of universities (Photo: Thought Catalog / Unsplash)

UOC President Josep A. Planell will set out the key aspects to the digital transformation of universities (Photo: Thought Catalog / Unsplash)

Next week, Barcelona will host some of the most important international higher education events, featuring professionals from institutions and universities from all over the world. One of these events is the Ibero-America – European Union Meeting: A shared look at the future of higher education. UOC President Josep A. Planell has been invited to take part in the event on 16 May and will set out the key aspects to the digital transformation of universities. This is one of the activities scheduled to coincide with the UNESCO World Higher Education Conference (WHEC2022), where Josep Maria Duart, professor in the UOC's Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, will talk on 19 May.

UOC President Josep A. Planell will give a talk on "The digital transformation of universities to ensure no one is left behind" on 16 May at 4 p.m. as part of the Ibero-American - European Union Meeting: A shared look at the future of higher education, which will be held on 16 and 17 May at the Historic Building of the University of Barcelona. The event has been organized by the Spanish Ministry of Universities, the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) and the University of Barcelona (UB).

This meeting of experts coincides with WHEC2022, which aims to reshape the practices and ideas used in higher education to ensure the sustainable development of both the planet and humankind. The conference will feature the participation of Josep Maria Duart, full professor in the UOC's Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences. He has been invited to be part of the panel on the "Role of Open Universities in Transforming Higher Education" at 2:30 p.m. on 19 May. Likewise, UOC President Josep A. Planell will attend the opening this world congress.

The five key pillars to the digital transformation of universities

President Planell's presentation will cover the five factors that he deems to be strategic when it comes to addressing the digital transformation of universities:

  1. Any digital transformation process must start by defining the university model itself. Some of the UOC's most important actions of this past year have been the implementation of the New Way of Working project for a university whose organization, interactions, actions and thinking are all based on a digital approach; the development and implementation of a project to migrate the university's data processing centre to the cloud, and moving exams online.
  2. Quality assurance mechanisms must be developed for the educational model based on partnerships with all the stakeholders in the regulation of distance higher education. The UOC has worked with the Spanish National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA) and the Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency (AQU) to establish the indicators for in online education and to train the people involved in carrying out assessments on the particularities of the e-learning model.

    One of the main milestones achieved this year by the UOC has been securing institutional accreditation, making it the first Catalan university certified to provide accreditation for official programmes without the need for external validation.

  3. Ensuring inclusive digital transformation through the reduction of the digital divide. How? By increasing digital literacy, developing the public's digital skills and training the professionals who work in educational institutions.
  4. Research and networking for an evidence-based digital transformation. The development of applied research and innovation in relation to e-learning will be key if we want to meet current and future challenges in education. "Research into e-learning, one of the most highly developed knowledge generation fields at our university, has made it possible to advance the use of technology in learning processes, thus improving the model itself," said President Planell. The IN3 is the UOC's research centre specializing in the effects of interaction between digital technologies and human activity.

    Some of the educational innovations carried out by the university as a result of research include technological tools for the detection of plagiarism, facial recognition in synchronous testing (TeSLA), developing video activities, or applying portfolio tools to continuous assessment activities, such as Folio (a new digital tool that encourages team learning and offers resources for the world of work) and GRAF (a groundbreaking visual system for the assessment of students' competencies).

  5. Establishing supranational partnerships involving governments, universities, quality assurance agencies, social agents and other higher education stakeholders is "essential if we want to turn this knowledge into systemic changes," said President Planell. The UOC is a member of international networks such as CINDA and EDEN, the latter of which is headed by Prof. Duart, and it has organized a series of debates with the International Association of Universities (IAU), featuring academics from over fifty countries, to examine the various changes currently being seen in higher education.
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