D2L, a global learning technology leader, in collaboration with Times Higher Education, has published a study titled “Digital transformation in education” exploring how digital transformation is progressing in higher education institutions around the world and what was the impact of the pandemic on education. The study finds that APAC countries have an overall positive approach towards digital transformation in education with over 93 per cent of respondents from India agreeing that technological developments enhance the quality of higher education, followed by 81 per cent in the Philippines and 74 percent in Singapore.
The study suggests that for the surveyed markets in the APAC region, which includes Singapore, India and the Philippines, the maturity and adoption rate is particularly varied. This is apparent both in their reactions to the necessary shift to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in their planning and implementation of digital transformation strategies.
Singapore has a relatively mature market, India and the Philippines are following the lead
The study finds that Singapore has a relatively more mature market when it comes to digital transformation in education as compared to India and the Philippines. A high number of institutions moved courses and assessments online to ensure continuity when lockdowns were imposed, with 72 per cent of institutions in India and 71 per cent in the Philippines open to moving courses online compared to only 43 per cent in Singapore. This data supports the knowledge that institutions in Singapore had already made much of their teaching available online prior to the pandemic.
However, despite different levels of maturity, digital transformation strategies are being increasingly embraced in India and the Philippines with 40 per cent of Indian institutions and 42 per cent of Philippines institutions considering this a core part of their strategic plan moving forward.
“India and the Philippines saw benefits from digital transformation during the pandemic, whereas advanced institutions such as most higher education institutions in Singapore had already started incorporating online education before the pandemic hit,” says Nick Hutton, regional director for Asia at D2L.
Future-proofing education by leveraging technology with the Learning Platform at the core
According to the study, virtual classroom technologies are considered the most important tool to best support digital transformation strategies across all APAC countries.
Learning platforms (LMS) play an important role in digital transformation, allowing institutions to successfully deliver remote teaching. They can also act as a catalyst for pedagogical change, according to Nick. “When we see universities move from just using LMSs to store and move content, to a more explicit value proposition, this can create a ‘big bang’ that drives transformational change,” he adds.
Preferences in LMS features vary depending upon the maturity level in each market. For instance, institutions in India and the Philippines tend to prioritise content delivery, flexibility and accessibility in an LMS over features such as analytics or peer evaluation. Tools specifically for personalisation are comparatively low on the list of priorities for respondents in the Philippines at 26 per cent and Singapore at 15 per cent, while in India this figure was 32 per cent, closer to the 33 per cent of institutions globally that prioritise tools for personalising learning.
Singaporean institutions feel that being able to monitor students’ progress is a key feature; this is cited by around a fifth of respondents. Polytechnics in Singapore are most likely to value reliability in an LMS. Institutions in the Philippines are most likely to say they use their LMS often, around 63 per cent, but the features they consider most important are accessibility, flexibility and communication.
Additional key findings from the research include:
Key drivers of digital transformation of education
Main challenges in the transition online cited by respondents who took measures to ensure educational continuity during national lockdowns
These findings are part of a survey of 4,830 higher education respondents commissioned by D2L. Conducted in the first quarter of 2021, the survey was given to respondents working in 11 specific job titles in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), Benelux, Brazil, Colombia, India, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa, Singapore, and the UK. In Asia, the survey included around 500 participants from India, Singapore, and the Philippines.