Higher education plays a crucial and challenging role in developing superior human resources and mastering science and technology.
The current educational challenges are marked by rapid and dynamic changes accompanied by the emergence of global and national issues requiring prompt action.
The dynamics of change and the demands for future competencies are the basis for the transformation of higher education to prepare a generation that is superior and has character.
“Higher education must transform to be more flexible, innovative, integrative, collaborative, and impactful, in line with the development of intelligent Indonesians with noble character,” said Professor Sri Suning Kusumawardani at the UGM Senate Hall on Thursday (November 23).
She made these remarks during her professorial inauguration, delivering a speech titled “E-Learning and the Transformation of Higher Education towards the Indonesia Vision 2045 (Indonesia Emas 2045).
As a professor of electronic learning, she emphasized the importance of quality education and the role of information and communication technology (ICT), notably e-learning.
“The issue of quality education has been emphasized in the fourth point of the seventeen points of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),” she explained.
“In its implementation, quality education requires information and communication technology, one of which is e-learning.”
Professor Kusumawardani mentioned that e-learning is a significant innovation in education that is important in disseminating science and technology and raising awareness of global issues. This is supported by the increasing access to the internet worldwide.
E-learning has become crucial for transforming higher education in the current digital era. One of the main reasons is that the current generation of students is known as “digital natives,” or a generation that grows up in the digital age.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of e-learning because the digital generation, accustomed to technology, has become very dependent on online learning,” she explained.
The need for continuous education during physical restrictions has driven the adoption of e-learning. This reveals the effectiveness of e-learning in supporting distance learning and online learning.
Online learning certainly encourages and enhances the ability for independent education, which is the basis for forming lifelong learners, an essential competency in the 21st century. It is not just about following trends but also about enabling engaging and effective education to prepare superior human resources.
“We also need to realize that pedagogy in higher education should already use an adult learning approach (andragogy). Even the time has come to proportionally implement models and methods relevant to independent learning or heutagogy,” Professor Kusumawardani said.
The Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in Indonesian higher education in 2022 reached 39.37 percent. This figure exceeds the target of the National Medium-Term Development Plan for 2024, which is 37 percent, and has shown a significant increase from 32 percent in 2021.
Although the GER has exceeded the set target, challenges remain in ensuring access to quality education evenly, regardless of geographical boundaries, with the same quality.
Some factors causing uneven access to higher education include geographic factors (the location of universities far from the community’s residence), economic factors (relatively high tuition fees for higher education), and social factors (lack of community awareness of the importance of higher education).
“Another factor that needs to be realized is the need for improvement in relevance, future skills, and skills to become lifelong learners,” she added.
“Based on these factors, e-learning and the transformation of higher education can be a solution to overcome problems of limited access to higher education and improve the relevance and quality of higher education.”
The professor stressed that understanding the journey of e-learning and the transformation of higher education will provide a perspective on how technology plays a role in transforming higher education from the past to the present.
Like this year, 2023 will become a breakout year for generative AI technology. These new technologies, including artificial intelligence and blockchain, will undoubtedly be exciting and challenging opportunities to be applied in the development of e-learning and the transformation of higher education processes.
“For example, blockchain technology can be implemented for recording course credits for students, securing exam systems in e-learning, authenticating student profiles, and verifying diploma documents so that data manipulation will not occur,” she said.
“This certainly allows us to create better and more equitable learning quality and superior human resources.”
Author: Agung Nugroho