Universities of the Future – Challenges of Digitalization at Universities, related Strategic Processes and Higher Education Policy

Project Status:
01.05.2017 – 30.04.2018

This project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is concerned with addressing developments associated with digitalization. To this end, the project considers various perspectives in order to reflect on consequences of digitalization for universities of the future.

Considering the overall tendency of digitalization at universities, as well as the specific focus of this tendency on teaching and learning, the Department of Instructional Technology and Media ​​of the FernUniversität in Hagen, represented by Professor Dr. Theo J. Bastiaens, Jana Hochberg and Rüdiger Wild, focuses on the social and cultural impact of these digital transformation processes.

The following research questions are the focus of the project Universities of the Future (Hochschule der Zukunft – HdZ):

  • What influences does digitalization have on the higher education system?
  • What can universities learn from previous developments in their environment and in other areas of society?
  • What are the requirements for higher education institutions and higher education policy in order to maintain adequate models and structures for socially required higher education in the future?
  • What is the potential of digitalization in this context?
  • Which conditions and circumstances are required?
  • Which recommendations may be derived for universities and education policy?

In order to adequately investigate these research questions, a broad range of instruments will be used within the project. The scientific framework is based on a foresight study, consisting of e.g. brainstorming, and expert discussions, which can provide a systematic forecast of specific areas of social change through scientific development prognoses. The topics identified in the literature will be complemented and validated by expert interviews with statements via video and documentation. The will then be organized, reflected and discussed within a group exchange and on the basis of a Delphi survey.

The presented project content was also represented in three relevant events:

The event “Change through Digitization – Learning from Other Industries” in January 2017 in Berlin invited to an exchange of experience with business and university representatives, as well as representatives from education policy, media and music industry. Within the event current changes, processes and the associated challenges for the institution university were evaluated together.

The event “Universities of the Future: Digital Challenges“, which took place in July 2017 on the campus of the FernUniversität in Hagen is the sarting point of an initial survey of international expertise in the field of higher education and digitalization.

In November 2017, the explorative phase of the survey was extended within the Mobile Learning Day 2017 at the FernUniversität in Hagen. In addition, the broad field of change processes for universities involved in digitization has established a first selection for further discussions to deepen certain aspects.

After evaluations of the Delphi method, a symposium will be held in March 2018 in Berlin, in which the results of the study will be presented. This event marks the end of the project Universities of the Future (Hochschulen der Zukunft – HdZ).