Kati Hagros, how is digitalisation visible at your home?
At the home of Kati Hagros, who is in charge of digitalisation at Aalto University, digitalisation can be found in the form of two teenagers. Visual communication, communality, global networks and the expectation of fast and easy access to information are issues which are familiar to teenagers and will challenge universities to consider their teaching and operating models in new ways in the future.
‘How do we package the information we teach into 6-minute videos to keep the interest of students accustomed to the current fast pace? How do we ensure a sense of community for students who are used to asking for help mainly from one another and not from the teacher?’, pondered Kati Hagros.
‘What is the role of universities in the future overall information and know-how becomes outdated very fast and there is huge amount of data and global internet courses available? Can we maintain our position as a reliable source of information and critical thinking? It is a big question how search engines and AI solutions of the future can separate reliable research information from disinformation,’ she continued.
Digitalisation is happening here and now
When we talk about digitalisation, we can easily talk about visions of the future and paint pictures that can even represent future threat scenarios. Kati Hagros reminds us that current changes are in fact not that dramatic and are happening right before our eyes and in our own work and study environments.
Digital change management at Aalto University is packaged under the Digital Aalto project. The project includes the renewal of technology, tools and processes in teaching, research, partnerships, campus and services. Digital Aalto roadmap covers years 2018-2022 and within this period, most of the digital tools we use in our daily work will be renewed.
In practice this means that more and more online courses, collaboration platforms, and opportunities for online examinations and assessment are offered to students. Researchers are able to make flexible use of facilities, equipment and infrastructure. They operate in global networks and research data is made available to everyone. People working at the university’s campus can utilise digital processes and tools and can work anywhere, anytime.
‘We have come a long way building the base in the Digital Aalto project, but there is still work to be done in renewing our ways of working and making bold experiments. The possibility of returning to the old world of paper no longer exists. Everyone has a role and a responsibility, but also privilege to develop their digital skills. I encourage you to try out new ways of working even with small steps, as everybody’s work will change over the next 10 years,’ Hagros said.
Kati Hagros, Chief Digital Officer, Aalto University
I encourage you to try out new ways of working, as everybody’s work will change over the next 10 years.
A sneak peek into 2030 – wellbeing and impact
The process that has involved the entire Aalto community has been to finalise the university's living strategy. The process is now nearing completion and digitalisation as a mega trend has been one of the major themes under consideration. So, now is a good time to consider what a student’s normal day will look like in ten years' time.
‘I believe that in 10 years' time, students’ days will be flexible, communal and sustainable. Courses can be made up of smaller, partly virtual modules that can be easily combined. Not all courses need to be at Aalto, but a network-based way of producing courses will become more common. Courses will also be more personalised, as we can utilise data about how you as a student learn, how you succeed and what you should study. Student support and guidance are flexible Support services are flexible and pedagogical guidance and student wellbeing are at the centre. The study path can be extended all the way to working life’, Hagros described. ‘Despite digitalisation going forward, we are not turning into a virtual university as the role of the Otaniemi campus as a meeting point to make people and ideas collide remains important.’
In the future, data will play an increasingly important role not only in education but also in other key areas of the university, namely research and societal impact. According to Kati Hagros, in the future we will be able to use data to evaluate our impact in a more multidimensional way. We will be able to analyse how and which fields we will be employed in, how many patents and innovations will be produced, how our campus is utilised, how our alumni contribute to sustainable development in society or what impact our research and partnerships with businesses will have. With the help of data, we can guide decision-making and where university resources are directed.
‘We are making very ambitious changes at Aalto. Digitalisation is not an IT issue, but a change to processes and ways of working for the whole community. We've already done a lot of groundwork, but we'll soon be at a point where the digital transformation will be visible to everyone.’
Here are some tips from Kati Hagros to keep up with digital change:
- Don’t be afraid – Digitalisation is not difficult or distant; after all, it is about how people will operate and think differently than before.
- Be curious – Be open minded about new tools and get involved in their development. Everything may not be perfect right away but things can be developed together.
- Network – We have a wealth of knowledge at Aalto and learning from others in the digital world is easier than ever. Use the opportunity to learn from trainings, lectures, colleagues or students.
Images: Mikko Raskinen