Unintended consequences of e-learning: reflections on the digital transformation of learning in higher education

Elaine Robinson , Ronald McQuaid, Aleksandra Webb, C. William R. Webster

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The use of digital technologies in Higher Education has grown dramatically dur-ing 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 fol-lowed 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, par-ticularly where and how learning is delivered due to remote learning and as-sessment; (2) the use of learning analytics, and how data is gathered and used particularly with the growing use of learning analytics which can undermine pri-vacy 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 Ma-chine Learning/Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistants for students? Finally, conclu-sions are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransformations of Regional and Local Labour Markets across Europe in Pandemic and Post-Pandemic Times
Subtitle of host publicationChallenges for Regional and Local Observatories
EditorsChrista Larsen, Jenny Kipper, Alfons Schmid, Ciprian Panzaru
Place of PublicationBaden-Baden
PublisherRainer Hampp Verlag
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783957104007
ISBN (Print)9783985420131
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameEN RLMM Anthology


  • HE
  • universities
  • digitalisation
  • e-learning
  • academic staff
  • students


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