University teaching is changing. Here’s how professionals can prepare for the classroom of the future
Higher education professionals are leveraging the power of digital education to offer students the flexibility they have come to expect in their learning.
From artificial intelligence (AI) in the classroom to growing student expectations, the university world is changing at a dizzying pace. Here we speak to a top expert about what professionals can do to harness new trends sweeping the sector.
“We’ve seen some remarkably swift changes in practice and experience, partly driven by technology, which has developed rapidly in response to Covid,” says leading University of London academic Dr Linda Amrane-Cooper.
There is a growing focus in the industry on using digital technology alongside more traditional in-person learning. Teachers are working both online and face-to-face with learners and striving to integrate both modes of teaching seamlessly to support the best possible outcomes for learners.
New tools can give students greater freedom in how and when they choose to access course material, and they increasingly expect 24/7 access to learning to fit their busy schedules.
Our students are expecting and do regularly use digital devices, whether they're in the classroom or studying somewhere else. So mobile phone learning, virtual reality headsets, and social media channels such as Discord and Slack are an increasing part of the student experience.
Educators are increasingly integrating AI into their practice to offer students an even more personalised learning experience, tailoring their learning to their own unique needs and preferences. “Supporting our learners to use AI productively in their learning, helps us prepare them for the workplace, where AI has greater reach every day,” says Dr Amrane-Cooper.
“AI can do some tutoring. It can set up a test or a quiz for the student, and then take them through that quiz, mark the quiz and direct the student to the right bit of learning that they weren't so good at. It can help you to personalise your learning experience. AI can support gamification, which can boost engagement through a stimulating learning environment.”
Dr Amrane-Cooper leads the University of London’s Learning and Teaching in Higher Education programme, a postgraduate certificate for teachers already working across the world. With more than 25 years’ experience in the industry, she also heads our applied research hub, the Centre for Online and Distance Education, based at the University. Joining the communities of practice that the Centre leads adds to the enriching experience of the Postgraduate Certificate.
“Many teachers in higher education weren't teaching in an online context before the pandemic, so we've really had to make sure that we're supporting educators on our courses to understand the principles behind effective learning, assessment and student engagement,” she explains.
“We do that through the mediums that teachers are now working, which are changing all the time from Zoom and Teams to mobile phone technology and virtual learning environments.”
The programme is designed to help participants interact with professionals around the world, working in a range of teaching settings, teaching different subject areas, each with their own insight on student expectations, behaviours and access to digital tools. It creates a great space for learning from peers.
It is also a valuable opportunity for participants to boost their career prospects.
In addition to achieving the award, successful participants can gain recognised tutor status. “They are listed on the University of London website as recognised tutors, so that’s very good for people’s CVs and career development,” she explains.
Alumni have included many of the University of London and wider Federation’s own staff – something Dr Amrane-Cooper says helps enhance the quality of the University's overall student experience.
And what better place to explore digital learning than at the University of London, a pioneer of distance education since 1858?
Find out more about the PGCert Learning and Teaching in Higher Education.