The Rise of Digital Transformation in Universities

Rachel Maltese
Updated April 6 2021
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Classes for Higher Education
Rachel Maltese
Updated April 6 2021

Digital transformation is changing institutions and businesses around the world. This has been true for some time, but nowhere has digital transformation been more apparent than at universities. The drive for digital transformation at universities has been a significant factor in allowing higher education institutions to flourish during the COVID-19 pandemic. But digital transformation isn’t just about responding to the recent crisis. Rather, university digital transformation will continue to reshape teach and learning, and student and educator experiences for years to come.


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What is Digital Transformation?

The idea of digital transformation dates to the advent of the World Wide Web in the mid-90s. As companies and other institutions moved to take advantage of this technology the idea of digitalization as a transformative factor for organizations took root. Digital transformation is about using new technologies to improve traditionally manual processes, but it’s also about so much more. Digital transformation helps businesses and industries become more efficient, innovative, and creative. While digital transformation has been moving at different paces depending on location and industry, universities and colleges have been some of the leaders in using digital technologies to transform teaching and learning.


How Does Digital Transformation Benefit Universities?

University digital transformation benefits students and instructors in many ways.

For students, digital transformation can:

  1. Enhance the learning experience
  2. Support key skills in notetaking, subject review, and collaboration
  3. Improve educational outcomes
  4. Help navigate school/life balance
  5. Increase accessibility

For instructors, digital transformation can:

  1. Lead to more collaborative classroom experiences
  2. Improve work/life balance
  3. Allow increased focus on student needs
  4. Help address different student learning styles

For universities and colleges, digital transformation can:

  1. Increase competitiveness
  2. Expand both the student and faculty recruitment pools
  3. Grow enrollment
  4. Allow for data-driven evaluation and decision making
  5. Improve ADA compliance


How Have Universities Been Driving to Digital Transformation?

Universities and colleges have been engaging in digital transformation in many ways. Key digital transformation activities have included basic resources like internet availability in classrooms and moved on to the use of tools and experienced that have fundamentally changed and enhanced the educational experience. The widespread use of Learning Management Systems (LMS) to support classes, coursework, and grading processes has been one fundamental part of university digital transformation. But that’s just the start of what is now possible – and popular!

Digital transformation has also been key in reimagining what a classroom is, where it is, and what happens there. With solutions like Lecture Capture, professors have been able to record their classes as they deliver them, allowing students easy access to sessions for review purposes. Additionally, these recorded lectures are easily assigned as homework, which allows instructors to focus class time on discussion, questions, and clarification.

University digital transformation goes way beyond lecture recordings, however. And students and professors now find themselves able to participate in classes no matter where they are in the world thanks to fully virtual, hybrid, and hyflex classroom options.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, this university digital transformation has been essential to allowing teaching and learning to continue. But virtual classrooms, hybrid, and hyflex options aren’t only for the special circumstances of the last year. They’re essential to reaching today’s students who are globally oriented and are often juggling work and family obligations with school. University digital transformation must be thought of in terms beyond the pandemic. The possibilities created aren’t just for how we live now, but also how we’ll live tomorrow – even after the pandemic is over.


The Virtual Teaching Digital Transformation

The virtual teaching digital transformation offers a huge benefit to all university stakeholders. For instructors and professors, virtual teaching tools can help to reduce workloads and improve work/life balance. This frees up more time for directly connecting with students.

This part of the university digital transformation doesn’t look the same at every institution or department. For some, the digital teaching transformation augments in-person learning. This digital augmentation of traditional classes can include electronic delivery of assignments and course materials to students. Learning management systems can also be used to manage student assignments, grading, and text-based discussion. But the digital transformation isn’t just a support system for the traditional classroom. Teaching can and does happen in a digital format on both a live and pre-recorded basis.

This allows universities and faculty to offer digitally enhanced traditional courses, but also a range of virtual classroom types.  These include fully virtual courses in which all participants are learning from their individual locations and hybrid and hyflex classes, where at least some students are sometimes present in a traditional classroom, while remote students are fully integrated into the educational experience.


The Hybrid Learning Digital Transformation

Hybrid learning refers to classes that include both online, in-person instruction as well as online components that students can tackle at a time, place, and pace of their choosing. This allows students to receive the best of both worlds – including traditional pedagogical techniques and the communal experience of a college classroom. But it also allows students to be self-directed, engaging with assignments and discussion on a remote, asynchronous basis. The combination of these two techniques in a single course underscores the many benefits of digital transformation in the university by highlighting the way virtual learning can provide students with independence while allowing them to have access to traditional academic support structures.

One particularly advantageous type of hybrid learning that the university digital transformation has enabled is called hyflex. In a hyflex environment, each student can choose the mix of in-person and virtual learning that’s best for them on a week-to-week basis.  This allows students to shape their educational experiences according to their evolving needs – in the classroom and out of it.


Why Better Video Experiences Are Essential for Successful University Digital Transformation

Video has increasingly become the key to successful digital transformation at universities. There are several reasons for this, including that educators increasingly report that students expect, enjoy, and succeed when video is part of their classroom experience.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, 82% of educators surveyed in Kaltura’s look at the state of video in education said that their students increasingly felt that video should be part of their learning experience. Not only that, but almost all of these same educations said that video skills were an essential part of the modern workplace.

And in the university digital transformation, video is everywhere.

Videos are shown in classrooms. Libraries host digital media collections. Lecture capture and other video lecture formats are used in hybrid and hyflex courses and flipped classroom scenarios. Students are empowered to create their own video content to complete assignments, present course materials to their peers, and offer feedback.

And universities and colleges also use video widely to communicate outside the classroom as well. University marketing recruitment, the admissions process, and engagement with alumni all benefit from video – both live-streamed and recorded.

With video benefitting every part of the university experience, the quality of that video is essential to successful digital transformation. This means video that’s high quality, easy to access, delivered without interruption, playable on all types of devices, and accessible through high-quality captioning.

Choosing the right video solution for your university’s digital transformation is essential.


How Kaltura Can Help Your University Digital Transformation Succeed

Kaltura is an education-focused video specialist that has been helping universities around the world drive towards digital transformation before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are just some of the ways Kaltura can help digital transformation at your university succeed:

  1. Kaltura’s Virtual Classroom solution allows students and teachers to access class no matter where they are in the world. With no software downloads and one-click access, Virtual Classroom is easy to use and doesn’t require technical know-how. It’s also so much more than just a way for students and instructors to interact by voice videos. Features include persistent classrooms, screen share, digital material distribution, virtual whiteboards, and interactive features like shared note-taking capability, text chat, and asynchronous discussion boards. Integration with your LMS is easy. Recently enhanced analytics provide detailed insights into how students are using video. Videos are easily organized and played through white label tools. And, perhaps most importantly, students are empowered to create their own videos.


  1. Lecture Capture and Lecture Capture Live allow instructors to record as they teach in the classroom. Once lecture capture is set up, professors don’t have to worry about the technology. Pre-timed recording or the touch of a single button will make sure lecture content is streamed live or recorded for future use later.


  1. Interactive video features help make sure that video students are asked to view on their own time keeps them engaged and learning. From being able to choose their own path through the material to video-embedded quizzing, interactive video provides a lean-forward experience that keeps students engaged, supports multiple learning styles, and rewards curiosity.


  1. Pitch video emails let students and instructors communicate by asynchronous video, making feedback more personalized and memorable, without having to coordinate calendars.


  1. REACH, Kaltura’s captioning and enrichment services make video searchable and accessible. Options include automatic captioning, translation, and in-video search. This level of accessibility benefits everyone and helps make sure your university digital transformation complies with ADA/508 standards


  1. Support for webinars, virtual meetings, and townhalls – from small groups to as big as you need them to be, are also possible with Kaltura and are a great way to bring university digital transformation to on-campus events, parents, alumni, and your broader university community. White-glove service is there for you if you need it, or you can let your own events and tech departments take the reins.


As you can see, university digital transformation isn’t a one-time event, but an ongoing process. And it’s not about replacing what your institution already does so well in person. Rather, it’s about enhancing it and expanding your institution and the opportunities it provides through today’s technology. Digital transformation is the must-have edge for higher education today and there’s no time like the present to get started, dive deeper, and do more with your university’s digital future.