SalesforcePutting students at the centre of innovation

Putting students at the centre of innovation

Online solutions need to be immersive and agile to combat digital burnout

The millions of students in Australia and New Zealand affected by Covid-related school closures need to be at the front of administrators’ minds as they plan for the future development of online systems, a panel of experts said during a Times Higher Education webinar held in partnership with 

David Yip,’s director of education industry solutions for APAC, said universities needed flexible platforms to accommodate the changing ways in which we communicate.

Agile systems ensure that “students, staff, faculty, alumni and donors live and interact on the many channels they already rely on in their daily lives”, Yip said. “Think big, be bold. We need to think of digital transformation as representing a fundamental shift.”

The webinar discussion was informed by new research into higher education trends, presented by Gerald Wang, director and head of APAC public sector at IDC. Wang said it was imperative that universities “kick-start the digital-first road to recovery”. 

To do that, institutions had to tackle problems such as “digital burnout” and “digital fatigue”. Wang suggested that students’ mental well-being could be improved with platforms that empower them through self-paced learning and peer support.

Cybersecurity was also a major issue. Wang cited a Future Enterprise Resiliency and Spending survey showing that almost 78 per cent of respondents wanted unified security technology to address threats such as ransomware and privacy concerns. Sustainability and socio-economic inequity also needed to be considered, Wang said. 

Wang then posed a question to the audience: “Are you better off than you were two, three years ago, before the pandemic, given all the digital advancements but also all the pain you’ve gone through?”

The key to moving forward was to preserve the quick technological advances to online education, while restoring the important human ties between learners and educators.

“All the progress we’ve made in the past two or three years – how do we ensure that it sticks in a post-pandemic world?” he asked.

Stuart Hildyard, chief information officer at La Trobe University in Melbourne, said his institution was moving past the “shift to hybrid” that started in 2020 to reimagining its “legacy infrastructure” beyond 2022.

This shift would require more input from IT systems’ actual users, such as students and teachers.  “Personalisation and contextualisation fundamentally come back to your data,” Hildyard said.

He stressed the importance of improving digital skills and getting buy-in from the people who need to use online systems daily. “Organisations need to lift people as a whole – in the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of using digital,” he added. 

“Innovation is part of our cultural values – and that means being accountable and being connected,” he concluded.

The panel:

  • Stuart Hildyard, chief information officer, La Trobe University
  • Joyce Lau, journalist, Times Higher Education (chair)
  • Gerald Wang, director and head of APAC public sector, IDC
  • David Yip, director of APAC education industry solutions,

Watch the webinar on demand above or on the THE Connect YouTube channel

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