Lessons learned and steps forward

After four intensive days at KU, exchanging and discussin about doctoral programmes and e-supervision, yesterday afternoon we did a wrap up meeting, analysing the lessons learned from this first study visit as well as agreeing on the next steps to be put into practice during the coming days, weeks, months and even years.

Everyone agreed that the challenges KU is facing in these moments in relationship with doctoral programmes and the enhancement of e-supervision are the following:

– Supervisors are overwhelmed by the time they spend on supervision, dedicating many hours on face to meetings hours with their students. As a consequence, many of them are highly overworked.

– The availability of a stable and fast connection to the Internet is still a pending issue at KU in these moments.

– Available e-resources, like access to e-journals at the university library, are underutilised.

– There’s a lack of trust in peer reviewing and sharing publicly research results.

Despite these challenges, we identified many factors that are already given and can contribute to enhance e-supervision of PhD students:

– Through the seminars and workshops implemented during this week, we realized that there is a big motivation and interest on behalf of the PhD students as well as the supervisors to get to understand e-research and learn how to use web 2.0 tools for their research.

– The leaders of KU are convinced that the future of supervision will be digital, a leadership indispensable for promoting the digitalization of KU.

During the next months, until the visit of the KU delegation to Catalonia, we will enhance the PhD students and their supervisors to keep on exploring the new instruments and concepts they got to know during these days, setting up their own websites and trying to put into practice first e-supervision experiences.

It got clear, though, that there’s a need to organise more training courses that facilitate the students and supervisors to get a more profound knowledge of these instruments, as the implemented workshop could only give a broad overview of some of the web 2.0 tools.

Beside this work on a micro level, closely related to the PLE-PhD project, KU identified the need to foster changes in the management of the university, setting up structures inside the university to manage e-supervision. The main goal will be to mainstream digitalization throughout the university to set a wider ground for the implementation of e-supervision. Furthermore, there’s a necessity to update the existing virtual campus, developing a more suitable platform. E-supervision is not purely academic but starts with making the whole university digital. This implies a global change of mindset, not only regarding supervision. It will be therefore necessary for KU to think in a broader scope, setting up an institutional strategy on digitalizing the campus.