Digital mobility heralds shift in teaching and learning

Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) yesterday hosted the Virtual Presidential Forum 2021 in conjunction with the 4th International Conference on Computational Intelligence in Information Systems (CIIS) 2020. The forum carried the theme ‘Digital Innovation in Higher Education Institutions’.

Digital Innovation (DI) is an emerging field that has garnered great interest in the higher education institutions (HEIs) especially after the global pandemic in 2020.

DI in HEI is technology driven which shifts workforce, culture and the technology itself. The pandemic had pushed HEI to adapt to DI. There are as many opportunities as there are challenges particularly for institutions unprepared for digital transformation.

UTB Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Hajah Zohrah binti Haji Sulaiman shared her insight on the impact of the pandemic and how it created opportunities for the university to remain resilient in the face of a crisis. UTB’s best practices, experiences, innovation and development on transitioning towards digital mobility amid the pandemic were also shared.

Professor Dr Hajah Zohrah said the university had to quickly adapt and make adjustments during the unprecedented time, and to carefully strategise to ensure it would continue to operate and produce a high quality experience for both student and staff.

She said digital mobility highlighted the shift in teaching and learning, especially in ensuring the effectiveness of e-learning. The application of DI transforms the products/services, processes and business models of an organisation. These involve initiatives such as developing new technology strategies or adopting and implementing new software or platforms to organisations or businesses, with the purpose of surviving and evolving.

Universiti Teknologi Brunei Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Hajah Zohrah binti Haji Sulaiman (top left) at the Virtual Presidential Forum 2021

“Today’s university students are exposed to digital experiences through social media platforms. Similarly, students are expecting such digital experiences throughout their campus student lifecycle. In other words, with the digital transformation of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0), the university will need to step into University 4.0 transformation,” she said.

Professor Dr Hajah Zohrah said University 4.0 will use analytics to understand, predict, and recommend new trends in learning, research and university business operations. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) will free people from repetitive tasks that do not require a human user interface. Innovative people will be able to focus on human services such as teaching, research and engagement.

UTB, as one of the technological educational institutions, plays a major role in bridging the digital gap of AI technologies by introducing new policies on integrating AI in education, she said.

“UTB’s vision is to be a Global University Impacting Society. In acknowledging His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s aspiration for Brunei Darussalam to become a Smart Nation, UTB has collaborated with industrial stakeholders such as Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd (BSP) and Shell Deepwater Borneo to bring AI Lab to UTB; and with Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) to conduct research on Machine Learning, VR/AR, Virtual Tourism and to create a Smart Campus through a number of projects under 5G Use-Cases Showcase,” she said.

“These digital transformations will open doors for research and development, innovation in digital technologies, and increase exposure to digital capabilities,” Dr Hajah Zohrah said.

Embracing IR4.0 in Brunei Darussalam’s higher education can be done in two folds: Using IR4.0 technology to improve university services, thus increasing student experience; and to provide relevant IR4.0 key enabling technological knowledge and skill to support the national vision.

“To take full advantage of IR4.0’s advanced technology, we need a similar revolution in the educational transformation to ensure the best possible student experience, staff time and investment in facilities and estates,” she added.

The presidential forum proceeded with talks featuring five speakers from universities and industries during which they shared knowledge and experience while providing insights on the theme of the event.