This Digital Strategy aligns with our University’s Strategic Plan, our Fee and Access Plans and key strategies such as the Strategic Equality Plan 2020 – 2024, and the Student Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2020 – 2024. The strategy will also look to align where possible with the FE colleges Digital Strategy 2021-2024 as part of a wider UWTSD group approach.
It will also support the university’s 2020 - 2022 enhancement theme of blended learning; to shift the concept of digital learning as separate to face-to-face teaching by embedding an approach that is around learning in its broadest sense and empowering our community in utilising the technology to support innovative and creative pedagogy across the university. Finally, the strategy aims to the support institutional aspirations around developing deeper commercial partnerships to enable a richer university experience for our students and staff.
The strategy has a focus on our people, and we aim to support all our staff and students in the effective use of digital technology. In order to meet all the university’s strategic priorities, it is essential that the University make informed decisions around the digital tools and technology it supports and then uses them effectively. It is also key that the university makes the most of the technology infrastructure already in place.
For this strategy, we have set six high-level objectives, underpinned by a strategic action plan, and a clear plan to monitor and review progress and success. We will work in partnership with staff and students on the implementation of the new Digital Strategy.
In early 2020 the University was heading towards the end of two key institutional strategies, the Learning and Teaching Strategy (2017-20) and the Information Technology & Systems Strategy (2017-20). It was decided that 2020 was an opportunity for a new approach to digital within the University and to align key strategies (Library & Learning Resources, IT&S, TEL, L&T) to a new Learning & Teaching approach and to develop the institutions digital capability. A focus on developing a new Digital Strategy in 2020 was fostered and discussions had already started to take place.
COVID-19 has caused a digital shift in higher education greater than anything that has preceded it. Before March 2020, the overwhelming majority of university teaching, learning, research and administration happened in person, outside those few areas that specialised in online delivery. UWTSD moved quickly to develop solutions for the immediate periods after the COVID-19 outbreak. Academic and Professional Services collaborated to develop significant levels of digital content to support the shift in curriculum delivery. In addition, university administration, support and professional teams moved swiftly to deliver services online.
The initial approach in many areas was extremely positive, but re-active in nature, which is completely understandable given the context of COVID-19. However, there were a number of risks here, particularly around the sustainability of the approaches and digital resilience for the longer term. As a result, the institution developed several core initiatives designed to help staff and students by providing the foundations for any future approaches to digital transformation. We now aim to consolidate and build on this work with the development of a strategy that outlines a cohesive framework to enable further digital transformation across the university.
This strategy will support all thematic and enabling strategies and frameworks across the organisation. This strategy aims to move beyond departmental boundaries by supporting and enabling digital transformation across the whole of the university, for Learning & Teaching, Research, Commercialisation, Collaborative Partnerships and Professional Services. Central to the strategy are themes of change management, user engagement, partnership and collaboration and system ownership. We need to recognise and encourage good practice but acknowledge processes and practices that are not working well. These cultural elements will have a significant impact on the success of the strategy. We also need to celebrate the significant steps that we have taken over the last year that facilitate this strategy and underpin the further work that is required to digitally transform the institution.
This is a University wide strategic framework, an enabling and empowering roadmap approach that ensures that the digital will be embedded at the heart of the institution. It aims to mitigate current risks around an over reliance on individual centric processes, to move to a position of greater workflow transparency and openness. This in turn will support the wider agenda around staff and student wellbeing, while at the same time ensuring a higher level of resilience and sustainability of university infrastructure.
To identify objectives and shape the action plan we undertook an extensive consultation exercise with key stakeholders across the university. This engagement helped us understand the needs of our community and has ensured that we have crafted a strategy that reflects voices from across the university.
The consultation phase directly helped define a realistic set of strategic objectives, whilst at the same time capturing a level of aspiration and ambition. The strategy aims to both manage expectations as well as empower the organisation to continue to transform into a digitally enabled institution.
The feedback from the consultation process has been overwhelmingly positive and we now aim to develop a Communication Plan to run alongside the life of the strategy to enable ongoing staff and student conversations. It is key that the strategy continues to be informed by this engagement to ensure endorsement from across the institution.
The objective action plan sets out key priorities to support the strategy, aligned with an operational action plan that will regularly be reviewed Operational Leadership team and the Academic Planning Team. In addition, regular updates will be shared with both Senate and Council.
A range of internal and external benchmarking activities will be undertaken to evaluate the success of the strategy. We aim to embark on both the staff and student JISC Digital Experience Insights Surveys to measure how our students and staff are using our technology, what is making a difference and where improvements can be made.
The Strategy will also look to foster engagement with the FE Colleges as part of the wider UWTSD group approach. As part of the strategy development process, we have reviewed the current UWTSD FE Colleges Digital Strategy and, working with FE colleagues, identified key high-level cross-cutting initiatives that we would look to work together on as part of a group approach.
|Teaching and Learning||Develop engagement on digital teaching and learning through shared best practice and FE/HE approaches.|
|Digital Skills||Work closely on a consistent approach to digital skills development for both FE and HE.|
|Cyber Security||Develop engagement on Cyber Security approaches to support Digital Transformation.|
|Systems Integration||Review opportunities to align and integrate core IT Systems to facilitate future working approaches such as shared campus facilities.|
|Building a Digital Group Community||Underpin the approaches above by building a digital UWTSD group community to enhance engagement on digital transformation.|
To achieve digital transformation and support the University’s strategic priorities, six themes have been identified. These themes have been developed in collaboration with academic staff, professional services staff and students. They seek to address ‘pain points’ identified in the consultation process, but also reflect best practice internally and across the sector and aim to support the University in becoming a digital leader within the higher education community. To ensure alignment and consistency with the wider organisational strategy each of the objectives have been mapped to the relevant institutional strategic priority, which are summarised below.
Select the objective to find out more.
Digital capability is the broad term used describe the skills, knowledge and attitudes that individuals and organisations need if they are to thrive in today’s world.
Digital exclusion is when an individual or group are digitally disadvantaged due to societal barriers to skills development, connectivity and accessibility.
Digital literacy means having the specific skills you need to live, learn, and work in a society where communication and access to information is increasingly through digital technologies like internet platforms, social media, and mobile devices.
Digital resilience can be defined as an organization's ability to maintain, change or recover technology-dependent operational capability.
Digital skills are broadly defined as those needed to use digital devices, communication applications, and networks to access and manage information.
Digital technologies are electronic tools, systems, devices and resources that generate store or process data.
Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value. It is also a cultural change that requires organisations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment, and get comfortable with failure.