Teachers play a key part in the digital transformation of schools and universities

14 January, 2022
Photo by Glenn Carstens Peters on Unsplash

At the first virtual teaching seminar, organized by the University of Vigo, Spanish public and private universities shared their educational models and reflected on learning in online and blended experiences during the pandemic

 

If universities around the world have something in common today, it is that we have all, to a lesser or greater extent, been forced to change our everyday routines by incorporating technology into various aspects of our educational models which had not previously been considered. 

But what does the immediate future look like in terms of the experiences we have had? Will we go back to where we were? The Faculty of Public Administration and Management at the University of Vigo organized the first virtual teaching conference for in-depth reflection on the online and blended experiences of Spanish public and private universities, including the Spanish National University of Distance Education (UNED), Rey Juan Carlos University, the University of Burgos, the University of Zaragoza, the University of Oviedo, the University of Vigo, which organized the event, and the UOC.

The teacher is a vital figure in the training and learning process, and in the management and implementation of the changes involved in incorporating technology into institutional educational models. But how can they be given structural support in this process? How can an internal management system that brings together the extra-academic aspects of the programmes and the strictly academic ones be created? 

 

The unique nature of the UOC’s educational model

The UOC is committed to creating its own unique system – an organizational model that brings together the academic and administrative sides of the University to provide students with a comprehensive service and an exclusively online experience. 

Based on three strategic areas of work – viability, quality and innovation – the institution has created a team of academic management professionals to ensure the correct operation and the smooth running of the entire key chain supporting the official programmes and the internal budget management associated with them. This ranges from support for writing reports on programmes to the management and creation of the classroom space, the instructional design of courses and the approach to learning resources, by way of feasibility plans for marketing and recruitment programmes and actions. Communication, coordination and teamwork between these two professional groups takes place on a day-to-day basis, and one makes no sense without the other. They consider each other as sharing a common goal, to which each one contributes their knowledge and experience. 

This unique organizational model and an economy of scale model applied to it are what enable an internal team (currently around 340 teaching staff and 80 course administration staff) to cover a large number of programmes and students. What is the key? How do they manage to cover so much with a team of this size? The answer lies in an external academic team (7,450 course instructors and tutors) from other educational institutions or from industry, who dedicate part of their time to teaching activities in the UOC’s classrooms.

This is an organizational solution that is a response to a very specific educational model. There is no single solution which can be bought, copied or implemented, but instead the team must be put together in one format or another to deal with the needs and specific educational model in each case. The UOC’s eLearning Innovation Center (eLinC) has set up a support service for institutions that are on this path and reflecting on how to digitize their activities.

More information (in Spanish) here

 

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About the author
Director of Knowledge Generation and Transfer at the UOC's eLearning Innovation Center. A graduate in Pedagogy from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, she has training and experience in a range of fields linked to the digitalization of operative processes to introduce tech-related educational systems. She has led the development of the higher education digitalization advice and support model that the UOC, through its eLearning Innovation Center, has provided to a number of universities since 2018. She is interested in innovation models and strategies, digital transformation and quality in higher education.