Higher Education going digital: a Maltese perspective
The National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE), Malta’s regulator for Higher Education, recently organised the ECVET Webinar 2020. I joined Dr Ghania Zghaib, an assistant professor instructional design and technology at the University of Balamad in Lebanon, for a snapshot of the state of digital education, grounded in some 20 years of praxis in the Maltese higher education system.
At face value, Malta has come a long way in digital education, with significant investment in ICT infrastructure in schools and higher education institutions. However, effective use of digital tools in higher education has been sketchy at best. Even all higher education institutions have long implemented virtual learning environments, the requisite groundswell of change needed in the academy – in skills sets and openness to explore alternatives – has to date been latent. The adoption of effective e-learning pedagogy has been slow; the resistance to blended learning, or even flipped classroom techniques, has been there for all to see. In many instances, digital education has been associated with uploading documents and presentations online, sharing some videos, communicating with students via e-mail – and there you have it. The affordances of digital education and online learning are certainly wider and more nuanced than, say ‘web-enhanced learning’, as listed in the new definition of terms by NCFHE.
Hopefully, the abrupt transition to online learning forced by the Covid-19 pandemic has not only pushed digital education into the mainstream but also served as a wake-up call to those – including policy-makers – who still consider e-learning as the poor alternative to traditional in-class instruction.
One interesting project related to digital competences going strong right now is DEL4ALL, funded by the EU and where the Commonwealth Centre for Connected Learning is a partner. The project is currently running a short online survey focusing on the challenges and opportunities the current COVID-19 emergency presents for higher education institutions and stakeholders. Participants from higher education institutions are welcome to participate.
My presentation slides are available on Slideshare. I start my talk at at around 1:17:10 into the recording available below.