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Manuel Frutos-Perez is the Head of Digital Learning at the University of the West of England, Bristol. The main purpose of his work is to support the university’s academic community to design and deliver outstanding programmes of study, enabling academic staff to develop their pedagogic practice and enhance the learning experience of their students by different means, including the use of technology.
Manuel is a senior academic with 20 years teaching experience. He has worked and collaborated with multi-disciplinary teams at academic institutions across Europe. His academic career is focussed on the fields of Learning Enhancement, Technology Enhanced Learning, Distance, Blended and Distributed Learning. And his current research interests are in the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing, developing virtual agents that can be used for the dynamic harvesting of information and sophisticated automated learning simulations.
We've spoken with Manuel ahead of the event and here's what he shared with us:
Q: Could you give us a preview into what you will be presenting at Future Edtech?
"The theme of my presentation is Digital Transformation in Higher Education. I will argue how an integrated strategy can see technology become a key change agent in transforming not only the student experience but also students’ outcomes and their professional readiness.Real transformation can be achieved by going beyond the mere adoption of digital practices, and developing a vision for learning enhancement that is heavily supported by the use of technology. That vision has to transcend all contexts where learning takes place in order to create a continuous experience that develops students into fully ready professionals. I will present examples of working environments’ simulations across a range of disciplines, integrative learning spaces’ design and innovative assessments, which all form part of that transformative vision."
Q: How has technology improved not just the student learning experience, but the complete experience of being a student?
"Technology is helping institutions shape the full student experience in order to model their journey as students in a way that gets them ready for their future. Technology has become pervasive in society and the world of work, and as such student life has to be modelled to present a continuum with all the other life experiences of students, giving them the opportunity to develop the skills, adaptability and resilience they will need to thrive in their future. Many institutions are already using technology to better support students’ wellbeing, developing and providing access to technology aimed at helping students cope with anxiety, and creating peer-support networks.Technology also has great potential as an access agent. The full adoption of digital practices creates a flexible environment where individual needs can be accommodated by default, without stigmatising differences. Furthermore, learning technology is extending the reach of institutions into new markets, giving access to high quality Higher Education to groups of learners who otherwise would not be able to participate."
Q: How will education evolve in the future under the influence of technology?
"The next frontier for Higher Education is true personalisation, being able to offer adaptive programmes of study to suit the needs of students and tailor their experience.Technologies such as predictive analytics will be key in enabling institutions to personalise their offer to students and create flexible programmes of study that can dynamically adapt to individual learners’ development; and technologies such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality will potentially play a major role in creating sophisticated learner-centric experiences. Active participation of the learner in shaping their experience will not only help stretch them further, but also give them more ownership and agency into their own development, which will result in higher engagement and lower attrition."