The Digital University

Posted On February 19, 2016
Categories Stories

Phil Ventimiglia, Chief Innovation Officer, Georgia State University
February 22, 2016

In 2015, we made tremendous progress in advancing the future of higher education at Georgia State University. In the Fall, we launched the Digital Literacy Initiative to introduce digital skills and competencies into the freshman Honors College curriculum. The initiative has been positively received by both students and faculty participating in it.

As we enter 2016, we’ve merged with Georgia Perimeter College and begun to define a new integrated model for student success across all degree types – from certificate to associate to bachelors to PhD. A key component of this new model will be building the Digital University.

The Digital University

What is the Digital University? The future of higher education and Georgia State is one in which digital technology enables student success throughout all facets of the academy. The critical elements of the Digital University are:

How We Teach (Digital Pedagogy) – As I have previously discussed, digital learning technologies are extending education beyond the traditional classroom and enabling education to be much more flexible and personalized. However, the future software “platform” or standard for true digital learning has not yet been determined. As a result, this year’s Digital Champions program is focused on exploring Open Educational Resources (OER) and Adaptive Learning tools. These tools show promise for directly lowering DFW (“D”, fail, or withdraw) rates and improving course completion. Fellowship recipients were selected for this year’s program because their courses will explore how students can best learn using digital texts and tools that adapt to students’ individual learning needs.

What We Teach– This fall we launched the Digital Literacy Initiative in our Honors College. The feedback from both students and faculty has been phenomenal. As we continue the program, eight new faculty will participate this semester in the program by teaching courses with a digital literacy component. Additionally, faculty who participated in the Digital Literacy Initiative in the Fall are continuing the models they developed into this and future semesters, and we’ve begun to see the goals of the program spreading within departments and into additional departments and subject areas. The Center for Instructional Innovation is working with the Robinson College of Business to introduce digital literacy into their core business curriculum.

The Student Journey – Growing up well into the age of the Internet, students expect Amazon-like user experiences. However, the current student experience is still in many respects mired in the past. We already use predictive analytics to help students stay on track to graduation, but there are additional opportunities to leverage analytics and digital communications to deliver more seamless and simpler experiences that enable student life and engagement with the university – from recommending campus events based on personalized interests and past activities to enabling one-click class registration.

The Anytime, Anywhere University – Technology will blur traditional physical boundaries and redefine the definition of a campus. Students should be able to interact with the university whether they are sitting in the classroom or sitting on the subway. They should be able to access all the resources of the university to whatever devices they prefer, their computer, phone or tablet. In past blog posts, I have used the banking industry as an example of an industry that has embraced this concept. Banks have enabled their consumers to bank based on their preferences and location. For example, being able to make a deposit from a phone or open a new account online. Similarly, the Digital University should enable students to participate in a class face-to-face, on their computer, or on their mobile phone.

Collaboration and Communications – Virtual collaboration tools (such as video conferencing) enable the Digital University to extend to being an anywhere institution, making education available even through bad weather or the need for students and faculty to travel. In addition, asynchronous tools (such as persistent chat) enable this same anytime element.

Cyber Security – The Digital University is built on a foundation of data. As such, the protection of this data is critical to the success and integrity of the university. The Digital University must have a robust cybersecurity strategy incorporating prevention, detection, countermeasures, and security education to safeguard its most important asset – its data. Georgia State has just approved its first Cyber Security charter to lay a foundation for this important aspect of our digital future.

What are your thoughts? Send Phil a question or comment.