THEi Digital Transformation Strategies
*THEi Digital Transformation Events
*THEi Digital Transformation Activities
Digital technologies continue to transform the higher education environment enabling opportunities to:
- Enhance institutional operations through the streamlining of workflow processes thereby enhancing academic and professional administration and facilities management;
- Enable technology enhanced learning and teaching including the use of evidenced-based data to facilitate greater student engagement and inquiry-based active learning;
- Support scholarly practices, consultancies and applied research through the use of digital affordances and new generation digital platforms.
Institute’s digital futures strategy objectives:
- To more explicitly profile THEi brand as a ‘technological’ institute;
- To leverage digital technologies to streamline and enhance institute operations and strengthen our people, products, spaces and services;
- To enrich student learning experiences using technology enhanced learning and teaching approaches.
1. Brand Profile of THEi
- Given the title of our Institute - Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong (THEi) – and by definition ‘technological’ – relating to or using technology; THEi should have a strong focus on technology. Moreover, there should be an emphasis on the use of new generation digital technologies, to enable THEi to develop its profile as being technology-led thereby enabling market differentiation. While THEi now has the beginnings of some state-of-the-art technologies, e.g., the interactive digital media wall, the use of video conferencing and various programme related technologies e.g., design (digital scanners, 3D digital printers, digital CNC routers, AR/VR/MR technologies) and built environment (BIMiHub), in the main, there remains much that we can do to enhance our ‘technological’ orientation and profile.
2. Institute Operations
- THEi SWOT analysis (May 2019) identified the lack of business intelligence and digital systems as a major weakness of the Institute. In particular, outdated systems and procedures alongside time consuming and cumbersome manual handling across Finance e.g., procurement and HR e.g., recruitment and HR data systems were identified as barriers to efficiency. More effective workflow processes across THEi can be enhanced through the rapid deployment of digital systems. The VTC 3-Year Strategic Plan 2020-2023 identifies ‘Digital Workplace’ and the embracing of smart learning and smart working as a new area for development. The initiative will involve, ‘leveraging technologies, changing the mindset of doing things and process re-engineering’ (p.33). The VTC’s Digital Workplace initiative will include areas of digital process flow and re-engineering that will support and benefit THEi including, but not limited to: digital workforce awareness training, business process transformation i.e., e-forms and report management, data analytics, HR Management Information System (HRMIS) and Employee Self Service (ESS) revamp.
Institute Operations: Digital Transformation Future Focus Digital technologies can serve to further support THEi through:
- Providing alerts and/or links to information on global trends, statistics, contemporary phenomenon which have impacts on the direction and sustainability of the institute within the higher education sector;
- Capturing, archiving, analyzing and visually benchmarking key performance indicators to continuously monitor, evaluate and recalibrate our performance expectations;
- Utilising data-mining to identify and help define the direction, improvement and enhancement goals in the short, middle, and the longer term; and
- Enabling the Institute/Faculty/OUs to work more effectively and efficiently in providing quality stakeholder service delivery through the greater deployment and use of digital platforms.
3. Enhancing Learning and Teaching Quality
- THEi adopts an outcomes-based, student centred, and predominantly practice-based learning and teaching approach across its programmes. This pedagogical approach, as articulated in Learning Programme Accreditation documents, enables Thei students to learn, as much as practicably possible, the knowledge, skills and understandings of the relevant industry or professional through authentic and/or simulated experiences. In addition, this approach aims to develop the student’s abilities to apply analytical, critical thinking skills and develop professionalism, including ethical behaviors, in preparation for their future careers and/or continuing studies. Due to rapid technological advancement and shifts in higher education, harnessing digital technologies through the use of new generation pedagogical tools can help to create more engaged and innovative learning and as a consequence students can gain deeper learning. These new generation digital technologies can also assist the educator with capturing an individual student’s learning, providing evidence of learning, and enabling personalized learning to serve diverse students’ needs due to different learning pace requirements to. Student success can also be optimized through the use of predictive learning analytics which uses cohort engagement data to alert teachers of at-risk students thereby enabling earlier remediation and intervention.
Digital technologies can assist the enhancement of learning quality through:
- Providing an interactive learning management system (LMS) and communications environment for teachers to manage a class and for students to access learning resources;
- Engaging students to learn through rich multimedia content e.g., AR/VR/MR, multi-level interaction and access to a virtual peer learning community that is not only discipline-based within the Institute but also potentially local, regional, and globally orientated;
- Engaging students to learn ‘hands on’ with industry relevant digital tooling to enhance their preparation for ‘real world’ activity in the workplace;
- Facilitating the capture, storage, monitoring and analysis of individual learning data for educators to devise innovative pedagogies that enable deeper learning to optimize learning;
- Providing alternate assessment methods of students’ learning experience, to triangulate learning performance, including participation frequency, duration, quality comments, improved learning outcomes, mastery of learning other than through examination performance or student satisfaction survey.
4. Informing and Enhancing Rich Student Learning Experiences
- Informal learning is a part of undergraduate student life. A rich campus life creates a sense of belonging and widens the scope of experience and exposure of the student to others. Informal learning experiences can also promote leadership, interpersonal communication skills, positive attitude, self-discipline, integrity and character.
Digital technologies that enhance THEi student experience can:
- Alert and inform students of relevant activities held on campus or externally to enrich students’ campus life;
- Alert students of exchanges, internship/Work-integrated-Learning, job opportunities;
- Provide information and resources to local and global competitions and awards relevant to their professional fields;
- Inform students of competencies/skills development opportunities other than formal curriculum;
- Encourage a peer learning community building to provide social support; and
- Allow students to register and to enroll at any time and at any place.
Digital Transformation Implementation Strategies
In order to transform the Institute to efficiently exploit technology to achieve the strategic objectives of digitalization, the following guidelines are proposed:
- To adopt both the top-down and the bottom-up approach to digitalization transformation: It is recommended that while high level institution-wide digitalization initiatives should be proposed, planned, developed and implemented, front-line academic staff and professional administrative staff should also be encouraged to propose new digitalization initiatives as users know what they need the best.
- To adopt the emergent digitalization technology and cultivate the digitalization minds: It is important for every individual staff to take the responsibility to leverage the technology and to embed technology into daily work process. Technology should not be allocated nor be confined to the IT department.
- To empower and to upskill every individual staff: Faculty/OUs should develop plans for individual staff to upskill and to enhance their competency to emergent technologies. It is based on the conception that most technologies are applications involving only steps and procedures to help complete tasks. Rarely of them involve programming and coding that relying on the IT experts.
- To have empathetic communication and to offer empathetic support: A SWAT Team should be formed to communicate well with end-users to understand the needs and to offer support. This could be an inefficient and time-consuming process, but this could be effective to really help end-users to adopt to new technologies. Technologies must be adopted and used could it be leveraged its benefits to achieve the desired goals. Support should be full-rounded, including support team, training, enquiry hotline (telephone, WhatsApp, email, etc.), user guides repositories, etc.
- To be sustainable: New projects should be carefully prepared and evaluated before implementation. It should be sustainable both from the outside, including the Environment and Society, and from the inside, including Governance, financial support and required expertise.