6 of the Biggest Surprises When Making the Shift to Digital
By Mark Christensen
Ah, it’s August 29th
For many colleges and universities, this marks a pretty big milestone on the calendar. You started the year in January and committed to making the pivot to digital content in support of student affordability and success. Identifying key stakeholders, targeting learning outcomes, and understanding your infrastructure to set the foundation for the benefits that lay ahead.
Move into April and May, and your focus turned to implementation planning. The pieces started to fall into place, and your team rowed hard to make sure nothing was missed. Then the communication went out, and you kicked into high gear to get folks well prepared for the upcoming semester.
That brings us back to how I opened the post — August 29th.
You’ve heard from your students and now have a good read on the enrollment numbers heading into the fall. If you’re in the world of higher ed, August 29th (or whichever date your classes start) marks a day on the calendar to catch your breath (for a moment) and think about what just happened. How did implementation go? What kind of surprises popped up?
With that sentiment in mind, I thought gathering a few quotes from folks connected to making the transition to digital would be fitting. I was pleasantly surprised at what they discovered during the process. By no means is this a scientific survey, but it does give a good sampling of what some have learned, and I think helpful to pass along.
My thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts and, of course, I encourage you to let us know what resonated with you during your transition to digital.
Question: What’s the biggest surprise in making the switch to digital course content?
“We had essentially assumed we’d be continuing to use the traditional mark-up model because we didn’t know there was an alternative way of doing business. Not marking up the cost of content, really made sense to us and will result in savings for our students – especially as we increase our digital options.”
Debra Wick, Associate Dean at Norwich University’s College of Graduate and Continuing Studies
“Digital adoption allows students to save on course materials and gives students a greater insight into their classes and deeper engagement into what they are learning. Having our students access their materials on or before the first day of class is a great benefit.”
Noah Lamb, Director of Student Account Services and Auxiliary Operations at Hodges University
“What has struck me was there is an abundance of emerging content options out there. We want to make sure we give our students a diversity of resources that are engaging and current and go beyond just text.”
Matt Cooper, Associate Provost, at Thomas Edison State University’s Center for Learning and Technology.
“Instead of paying the high price at the campus bookstore, trying to find it on the open market, or not buying at all. The ability to get affordable course materials right from the learning environment and already accounted for in the tuition just makes sense. Getting it digitally or a print-on-demand companion is a good step to class success.”
Melody Weary, Undergraduate student, at Ohio University
“My sharpest impression has been. Higher education is reaching a tipping point. Universities struggle to keep up with a very different generation of students, rapidly changing applications, online teaching demands, and inflationary prices. Textbooks alone won’t solve the problem. Cutting-edge curation is needed to build on those with a vital blend of the school’s peer-reviewed library holdings and the treasures on the free web – including open educational resources.”
Fred Stielow, Dean of Libraries at American Public University System
“Enabling your leadership is essential when scaling up your digital initiatives. Make sure they set it as a priority. It’s not a technology strategy, and it’s not just a content strategy. It has to be an institutional strategy that engages many different layered levels of your organization.”
Gerry Hanley, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Academic Technology Services at California State University System