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Rise of the Digital Professor: NEOLAiA at Ahead by Bett in London

May 16, 2022 | NEOLAiA Journal

ahead by bett with Renáta Tomášková

The popular education technology show, Bett, travelling the globe and connecting education specialists across the continents, newly invited in March 2022 to their flagship event in London leaders and specialists in Higher Education.

NEOLAiA had the opportunity to be part of this vibrant educational fair, presenting experiences and strategies in a panel on digital education.

Ahead by Bett focussed on the disruption and transformation Higher Education has faced during the last two years. A range of experts from all over the world came to share their experiences, practices, prospects, and concerns in leadership, innovation, student and teacher well-being, inclusion, or skill sets essential for the future. Two NEOLAiA universities – University of Bielefeld and University of Ostrava – were invited to a panel on the impact and potential of digital education, chaired by Perry J. Hobson, Director of the Academy for Tourism at BREDA University in the Netherlands. Opening the panel called Rise of the Digital Professor, Perry Hobson pinpointed the abrupt changes teaching and learning at universities have gone through and raised questions about how they may shape the future of Higher Education. What Perry appreciates about the education technologies most is the way they facilitate crossing the borders and developing new synergies:

“… once we network the people around the world that gives universities the opportunity to work together and collaborate, to bring together alliances and networks so that they can employ their technology and connectivity together. Working with colleagues and students around the world is the emerging pattern we would like to see.”

The fact that the importance of networks and alliances in the digitally interconnected world had increased was emphasized by all the speakers on the panel: close collaboration in university partnerships was presented as essential for finding solutions for the development of new blended formats for teaching and learning, for making the most of the affordances of the virtual space for the internationalisation of the curriculum, and also for sharing practices which help meet the challenges of the digital study environment and its accessibility. 

While Renáta Tomášková from the University of Ostrava focused mainly on students’ responses to the online experience during the pandemic, and their attitudes to and preferences for prospective virtual mobility revealed in a large-scale survey across 24 Czech HEIs, Meike Vogel from Bielefeld University shared the results of a survey showing the teachers’ views on the digitalisation of the educational process including a variety of assessment formats. Meike also attracted attention to the new competencies teachers need to foster in their students to help them thrive in the virtual learning mode:

“We have to help the students how to become a digital learner: they need a high level of self-regulation in the digital situation, motivation, and they need competencies for online settings…”   

Both contributions highly valued the opportunities brought by the NEOLAiA alliance – NEOLAiA is an inspirational space for sharing practices and seeking solutions for the new tasks and a safe space for both physical and virtual student and teacher exchange.

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