Global Learning Report 2021

The rapid digital shift to distance teaching in the context of the global pandemic gave new impetus to the discourse in higher education to address digital teaching and learning.

Together with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Times Higher Education, the Global Learning Council (GLC) has been monitoring the pressing questions that have emerged around the value of teaching, barriers to equitable educational access, and guardrails needed for sustainable digital transformation over the past 16 months.

The report in a nutshell

The following video (2:56 min) will give a brief overview of the Global Learning Report 2021. You can download the complete report as a PDF below.

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Download the Global Learning Report 2021 (PDF)

You can download the complete report as a PDF.

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The voices of educators and higher education leaders gathered in the Global Learning Report 2021 – Digital Transformation of Higher Education form the basis for the recommendations for digital transformation of education provided for leaders of higher education institutions, policy-makers, and the ed tech industry.

In our report, you can find more information and deeper insight into what we consider global challenges to digital learning, and all the recommendations.

Further information & activities

"A divide is opening up“ – An investigation about the overnight digitalisation of higher education teaching
Interview by NORA LESSING

Leibniz Association’s online magizine spoke to the Co-Chair of the GLC, Friedrich W. Hesse, and project manager Anne Leiser, who coordinated the report, about the pandemic-related digitalisation of teaching and about the opportunities and limits of long-term digital transformation.

Please find the whole interview here.

In addition four universities within the GLC network were asked which challenges they are facing due to the Coronavirus Pandemic and which opportunities arise for teaching an learning. You can find the interviews here – with Bitange Ndemo from the University of Nairobi, with Denise Pires de Carvalho from the Federal University in Rio de Janeiro, with Suzanne Walsh from Bennett College in Greensboro/North Carolina and Tan Eng Chye from the National University of Singapore.

Rather than a digital transformation, universities should undergo a learning transformation that supports evidence-based teaching, argue GLC Members Carl Wieman and Bror Saxberg in this article for THE Campus.

The disruption of higher education due to Covid-19, particularly the sudden forced switch to online and digital learning, has stimulated much thought as to what lessons and improvements higher education institutions (HEIs) could take away from this experience. In this article, Carl Wieman and Bror Saxberg expand on their contribution to the Global Learning Council report 2021 on the digital transformation of higher education, focusing on the aspects of teaching and learning that are most critical.   

Please find the whole article here. Herckis from Carnegie Mellon University discusses her research into the new digital divide in ed-tech knowledge and pedagogical training among faculty and how universities can work to fill it.

Universities are going into the 2021-22 academic year with a greater capacity to deliver online and hybrid teaching than 12 months ago. But just as existing digital divides presented complex teaching challenges during the pandemic, faculty’s lack of digital literacy and of pedagogical training could render elements of universities’ digital transformations ineffective.

Lauren Herckis an anthropologist at Carnegie Mellon University, discusses her research into the new digital divide in higher education and how universities can work to fill it.

You can read more of Lauren's insight in the Global Learning Council's report 2021 on Digital Transformation of Higher Education, chapter 3.3 Digital Literacy.

Please find the episode of the podcast here on THE Campus.

In this article for THE Campus Eugene Schulz and Dagmar Willems (German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)) share insights and takeaway lessons from creating a community of practice for higher education instructors to develop virtual exchanges with international partners.

They are both senior desk officers at the digitalisation section of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Read more insight from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in chapter 3.4 on virtual collaboration in the Global Learning Council’s Global Learning Report 2021: Digital Transformation of Higher Education.

Partners involved

This publication was produced in cooperation with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Times Higher Education.


This publication was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Germany).


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