The use of digital technologies in Higher Education has grown dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic with many courses moved to online teaching, a trend which is likely to continue post-pandemic. However, the rise of such E-Learning is likely to have a number of unintended consequences for students, teachers, higher education institutions, employers and society more generally (Webb et al. 2021) . These have important implications for regional and local labour markets, skills development and observatories. This chapter starts with a brief description of digitalisation in Higher Education to offer context for the digital transformation of university learning. Section 3 considers who might be particularly affected by barriers around the move to large-scale E-Learning in terms of digital access and the digital divide. This is followed by exploration of three key issues around the unintended consequences related to the rapid uptake of digitised teaching and learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These issues are: (1) the impact of E-learning on assessment, particularly where and how learning is delivered due to remote learning and assessment; (2) the use of learning analytics, and how data is gathered and used particularly with the growing use of learning analytics which can undermine privacy and increase the surveillance of people’s activities?; (3) the implications of machine learning/Artificial Intelligence (AI) in learning and teaching, and what ways students are supported by digitalisation through the increased use of Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistants for students? Finally, conclusions are presented.


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Robinson , E., McQuaid, R., Webb, A. & Webster, C. 2021, 'Unintended consequences of e-learning: reflections on the digital transformation of learning in higher education', Transformations of Regional and Local Labour Markets across Europe in Pandemic and Post-Pandemic Times: Challenges for Regional and Local Observatories, pp. 379-398. https://doi.org/10.5771/9783957104007-379

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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