Where have we reached with teaching and learning practices in universities at the end of 2022? The change in learners and learning in the last three years has been rapid and irrevocable. The demands and expectations of students were changed forever by exposure to debt-inducing periods of sub-standard and rushed moves, to temporary on-line learning, by poorly equipped staff, using unfit for purpose technologies.

Too much of the pandemic saw academics and leaders congratulating themselves for changing their courses from talking in a lecture theatre partially filled with students, to talking from their kitchen table into a Zoom meeting joined by a similar fraction of students. Are we now just back to empty lecture theatres and empty zoom meetings simultaneously?

The current desire to return to face-to-face campus learning, augmented and blended with on-line delivery of some sessions as a hybrid model, is not working. The wish to go back is because it is easier than the alternative. It utilises the physical campus, where the legacy infrastructure, systems, processes and capabilities lie. The fact that students, customers, and markets no longer want an inflexible model is the reality staring us in the face.

This plays out in different ways regarding equity, inclusion and accessibility and we need to make specific responses for these factors. There is a huge ongoing agenda for innovation here in new approaches to equitable access to technology-enabled pedagogy.

At this stage we are seeing some innovative online ventures and some strong university innovation activities. These are glimpses of the post-pandemic university. The next stage will see a ubiquitous and sector-wide embrace of systemic strategies to develop new models of learning to meet disrupted student and customer needs and expectations. There will be a need to do this in the face of new competition from new providers and non-traditional players. And we need to recognise the rapid growth of an EdTech and BigTech sector that will either look to partner with the most innovative current players, or else compete with them and go it alone in serving lifelong learning needs directly to consumers.

These issues were widely discussed by leaders in the sector in contributions to a forthcoming book in which we summarise contributions related to the future needs of learners and learning.  You can read about and pre-order the book on The New Leadership Agenda in higher education here.


Martin Betts, Co-founder of HEDx [email protected] @martinbetts

David Kellermann, UNSW Engineering [email protected] @DrKellermann


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