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Aarhus University is investing DKK 60 million to promote the digitisation of teaching – known as Educational IT.

2018.01.02 | Camilla Schrøder

One of the major benefits of EDU IT is its capacity to strengthen research-based teaching. Expanding the digital learning space creates the conditions for more focussed and academically relevant contact between teaching staff and students. PHOTO: Anders Trærup

Many of the university’s academic staff members are already exploiting new technologies in order to revitalise their teaching practice. At its latest meeting, the board approved a DKK 60 million investment in educational IT, in order to provide support for the many positive initiatives in this area and ensure their coordination across the university.

In close collaboration with the academic environments and the four university teaching development centres, a hub for educational IT will be established which will ensure a systematic effort across the university, and which will provide support for and a space for experimentation with the use of new technologies in teaching.

Pro-rector Berit Eika will head the EDU IT initiative, which is part of the university’s overall digitisation initiative, in collaboration with the Education Committee. According to Eika, the initiative is a trailblazing effort which will contribute to future-proofing the university’s degree programmes.

"Our ambition is for Aarhus University to be a first mover within EDU IT. By strengthening the use of new technology, we will provide our students with even better conditions for acquiring knowledge in a multi-faceted interplay with researchers and lecturers," says Eika.

One of the major benefits of EDU IT is its capacity to strengthen research-based teaching. Expanding the digital learning space creates the conditions for more focussed and academically relevant contact between teaching staff and students. If a student has already listened to a podcast, practised and achieved basic competencies in ancillary subjects or discussed a topic in an online forum before interacting with his or her teacher, time is freed up to focus on feedback and guidance in their dialogue, which means that dialogue can take place at a more advanced academic level.

We will start with Blackboard

There are many advantages, and the pro-rector emphasises that a strong joint learning platform will be a crucial factor in the initiative. For this reason, the first step will be to make the Blackboard user interface more intuitive and user-inclusive.

“For the joint learning platform to be a help rather than a hindrance, Blackboard needs to be made more accessible, and new functions need to be added,” the pro-rector explains.

Improving the user-friendliness of Blackboard will pave the way for rolling out EDU IT initiatives

The implementation of the initiative must take place through a thorough process in close dialogue with the academic environments, which is where it will play out in practice. There will still be room for different solutions, and departments/schools and faculties will make parallel investments in the initiative.

As a supplement to physical teaching

The pro-rector emphasises that another important advantage of the initiative will be greater flexibility for students and more scope for different ways of learning. This may ultimately contribute to reducing the number of students who drop out of their degree programmes.

The digital learning space is a supplement to classroom teaching as well as a new way of structuring teaching which can help enable students to work with their subjects in an active, structured way. Learning will still be a matter of putting in the work – it’s just that now there are more options,” explains Eika, who also points out this means the initiative also has implications for the amount of time students spend on task.

This investment in the expansion of Educational IT solutions is the second phase of the digitisation initiative which Aarhus University will roll out in coming years, in order to prepare academic and administrative staff and students for the digital transition of the future and the labour market’s increasing demand for graduates with digital competencies.

The initiative will be introduced at a kick-off event for employees on 13 March.


FACTS about AU’s investment in Educational IT

Educational IT will strengthen the use of technologies in the degree programmes through the interplay between technology, education and didactics.

AU is in a strong position to launch such an initiative. The university began targeted efforts to integrate technology into the classroom in 2001.

The board has just allocated DKK 60 million in the period 2018-2023 to support structured, systematic implementation of EDU IT, which will be integrated into the university’s strategic framework contract and implemented through faculty action plans.

The initiative will involve redesigning courses, prioritising and adapting digital learning tools and a focus on teaching competency development and acknowledging excellence in teaching.

A new coordinating development centre, EDU IT Hub, will support and collaborate with the university’s teaching development centres in order to promote the integration of more technology in teaching. Activities will include:


  • Development, testing and implementation of learning technologies
  • Improving the user-friendliness of Aarhus University's joint learning management platform Blackboard
  • Cooperation on redesigning courses
  • Establishment of experimental teaching facility
  • Provision of necessary video production facilities
  • Project management in connection with the initiative
  • Allocation of seed money for projects in the academic environments

The EDU IT Hub will be staffed by employees with specialist technological expertise as well as generalists responsible for coordination and implementation. A centre manager position will be advertised, while the other positions are expected to be filled internally. The EDU IT Hub will begin its work in the spring of 2018.

DKK 10 million of the total investment in the initiative is earmarked to redesigning courses.





Education, Administration (Academic), All groups, All AU units, Rector’s Office