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​Digital leadership in a much disrupted sector

Divina Paredes (CIO) | Sept. 17, 2015
Stuart Haselden, director of ITS at the Victoria University of Wellington, talks about transforming infrastructure to support multiple users, from digital natives to academics.

In other words, to "try to take away that friction and complexity that can exist and enable them to focus on value areas," Smith said.

Haselden agreed saying university users are not interested in whether the backups work or that the Internet is running - until it shuts down.

"We are very much focused on a service that we can just run, and how can we give better experiences to students and staff."

A CIO in attendance asked him if the university is tapping into the knowledge of the digital native students in the goal to transform the learning experience through digital technology.

Haselden said this is already happening in different areas of the university.

"The focus, at the same time, is supporting staff and students in a digital journey," he said.

"All of our lecturers are used to standing up in front of the class, but many have now developed or are developing different ways of engaging with students through the digital platform."

He compared his experiences while attending two lectures with different teachers but in the same room. The first class had 320 students. He observed that 98 percent of the students had laptops, and were engaged with the lecturer.

In the next lecture, there were around 300 students, of which 60 percent of students had their laptops. He estimated only around 10 percent of the students were engaged, and the rest were on social media sites or on TradeMe.

"Same lecture hall, but with completely different engagement levels," said Haselden.

The difference was the first lecturer had "a whole lot of neat things going on as part of his lecture." He was telling students, "If you have your devices, here is a link, and do a survey on how I am doing, the results will appear immediately."

He also split the class into groups of four and asked them to solve a puzzle online.

"We are seeing the form changing for lecturers from simply facing the class to using digital technology in teaching and to accommodate and encourage different ways of learning."

He says this is important as students entering university are digital natives who may see a "real disconnect" to what they are used to doing with technology once they are in the classroom.

"The ICT team is focusing on programs using digital tools for learning rather than the new data centre," said Haselden.

He said with the rise of online learning institutions, there were predictions half of the world's universities will not exist in five years.

But he believes universities still have an edge.

The university can be running MOOCs (Massive Online Open Online Courses) but people also learn from each other.


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