Teesside Uni’s digital shake-up will help students land jobs of the future

Teesside University has launched one of the biggest digital shake-ups the higher education sector has ever seen to help students prepare for future jobs.

Over the next 12 months, Microsoft is teaching digital skills to all academic staff at the university, so they can improve how they communicate with students and give them the best start in careers that will increasingly involve cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Once they have all been accredited by Microsoft, there will be more teachers at Teesside University holding the Innovative Educator Expert Status – who are supported by the company to use technology to engage students in new ways – than in the rest of the UK.

At the core of the university’s Future Facing Learning strategy is Microsoft Teams, an online collaborative space that allows groups of students and staff to work together, share ideas and communicate anywhere, at any time. It features chat, audio and video features and supports popular Office 365 apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint, and Power BI.

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Claire Riley, Senior Teacher Engagement Manager at Microsoft, said: “Teesside is on a digital transformation journey because the world is changing and students need something different to succeed.

“Microsoft Teams is a brilliant new platform that is intuitive, flexible, safe and perfect for the new world. We are delighted to partner with a university as ambitious as Teesside and are looking forward to supporting the implementation of this new toolkit so that both students and staff can thrive.”

According to a Deloitte survey, 50% of the workforce will be “digital natives”, connected to the internet 24/7 and work the way they want to by 2020. However, in his book Digital: Disrupt or Die, OpenText Chief Executive Mark J Barrenechea writes that there will also be a shortage of 40 million highly skilled workers globally by this date.

Teesside University, located in Middlesbrough, has more than 18,500 students, the majority of them studying for undergraduate degrees. Every first-year undergraduate on a full-time course will receive a tablet and a toolkit of apps from IT solutions company XMA to help them learn and prepare for careers.

Professor Mark Simpson, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching), said: “Teesside University is passionate about digitally empowering our staff and students to deliver an outstanding learning experience and ensure our graduates are future ready.

“Partnering with Microsoft has been fundamental to the implementation of Future Facing Learning and they have been extremely supportive of what the university is aiming to achieve through the use of digital technology.”