The Digital University

Last month, on 22 November 2016, the Learning and Teaching Academy welcomed Sheila MacNeill (Glasgow Caledonian University) and Bill Johnston (University of Strathclyde) who delivered the latest in our series of LTA Connect webinars on the concept of the ‘Digital University’.

The term ‘digital university’ has emerged in recent years as a way of uniting discussion and research on topics such as learning literacies, teaching practices, technological developments in the higher education sector, and digital education practices. Bill and Sheila have been working together since 2012 to more fully define the notion, including the development of their Conceptual Matrix for the Digital University which identifies four elements of the digital university with accompanying examples of activities.


As Sheila and Bill explained during their well-attended webinar, the conceptual matrix is intended to be both descriptive and normative: identifying how universities are and how they ought to be with respect to digital policy, practice and provision. Institutions can use the matrix to examine their current activities and as a catalyst for change, and the webinar touched upon the work Sheila and Bill have undertaken with Keith Smyth to apply the matrix in taking forward digital initiatives within specific institutional contexts.

Participants in the webinar engaged in discussion around how to implement institutional change and how to ensure that staff and students have the relevant skills to learn and work within the digital university. A recording of Sheila and Bill’s the webinar can be accessed from the Learning and Teaching Academy website.

You may also be interested in exploring the original series of blog posts through which Sheila and Bill developed their conceptual matrix, or reading a recent paper that discusses the concept of the digital university and how the matrix informed a large scale ‘digital futures’ consultation that was undertaken by Sheila, Bill and Keith.

References to both can be found immediately below.

Heather Fotheringham

MacNeill, S. and Johnston, B. (2012) A conversation around what it means to be
a Digital University (Parts 1 to 5). Available online [last accessed 22.11.16]

Smyth, K., MacNeill, S., and Johnston, B. (2015) Visioning the Digital University – from institutional strategy to academic practice. Educational Developments, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp.13-17. Available online [last accessed 23.12.16]

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