A number of major technology initiatives are already underway at UBC, and a digital strategy will provide a coordinated and cohesive framework to achieve greater outcomes.
A digital strategy need not result in an entirely new set of activities or investments. Elements of these activities are already underway at UBC, and a digital strategy creates a coordinated, cohesive framework for aligning these activities to achieve greater outcomes:
- UBC IT is evaluating workforce requirements and planning for the development of the skills that will be required for working with new technology and an AI augmented workforce;
- Projects to implement platforms such as Workday, Salesforce, and Mulesoft are redefining the technology foundations and will enable a switch to digital;
- Units within faculties are beginning to examine how new technologies will impact their work and, in some cases, planning to develop their own digital strategy;
- Pilots are underway to examine the use case and feasibility of new technologies such as augmented and mixed reality, AI chat bots, and IoT;
- Some units have already deployed robotics and sensors to aid in service delivery;
- And, the new Integrated Renewal Program is expected to provide a great deal of benefit in digitalization.
However, these advances are limited without anchoring activities to a broader institutional vision and framework. The landscape for higher education institutions globally is becoming more challenging. Emerging technologies are disrupting business models in transportation, media, banking, retail, agriculture, and mining - indeed it is difficult to identify a sector which will not be impacted. Higher education as an industry has been slower to respond, but disruption is happening, and pressure to undertake new approaches to address demographic, economic and societal challenges will require new ways of thinking.
We should not equate with the coming transformation in higher education solely with ideas such as online learning or MOOC’s. The massive upheaval that technologies like AI, IoT, 5G, augmented and virtual reality will create across society and the expected impacts on the future of work means leadership from post-secondary institutions are required to help society adapt, going well beyond traditional forms of pedagogy today, and meeting educational demands of the future will require us to think differently about our educational systems.
Developing and implementing a digital strategy and related roadmap can help UBC have the right discussions, and make the necessary decisions to adapt and flourish in a changing future, and will ensure a cohesive, integrated approach so that the activities undertaken can be aligned and focused.