The NextEducation Research Series

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Future Skill Research

The future of higher education must evolve in many ways to adapt to the changing world of work. In this context, the teaching of so-called Future Skills is an important component. The NextEducation group at DHBW Karlsruhe is significantly involved in various research projects on this topic.

Future Skills Metaanalyse

This paper describes how the variety of existing future skills approaches can be compared conceptually. For this purpose, a framework model for future skills is proposed, which contains 17 future skills profiles in three different categories. The skill names of the dozen or so future skills studies published in the German-speaking world since 2015 are assigned to the 17 future skills profiles using a qualitative content analysis method.

In addition, two tables present the 13 German-language and 37 international Future Skills studies. 

Der Beitrag beschreibt, wie die Vielfalt vorliegender Future Skills-Ansätze begrifflich miteinander verglichen werden kann. Dazu wird ein Rahmenmodell für Future Skills vorgeschlagen, welches 17 Future Skills-Profile in drei verschiedenen Kategorien enthält. Die Skill-Bezeichnungen der ein Dutzend Future Skills-Studien, die seit 2015 im deutschsprachgien Raum publiziert wurden, werden dabei konfirmatorisch über ein qualitativ-inhaltsanalytisches Verfahren den 17 Future Skills-Profilen zugeordnet.

In zwei Tabellen erfolgt außerdem eine Darstellung der 13 deutschsprachigen und 37 internationalen Future Skills Studien. 

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Future Skills in Kürze

Dieser Beitrag ist eine Kurzfassung der NextSkills-Studie zum Thema Future Skills. Ausgangspunkt bildet hierbei die Erkenntnis, dass die gegenwärtige Hochschulbildung den drängenden Herausforderungen unserer Gesellschaft noch keine ausreichenden Zukunftskonzepte entgegenzustellen vermag. Im Rahmen der NextSkills-Studie wurden auf Basis von Tiefeninterviews und Einschätzungen weltweit befragter Expert*innen 17 Future Skills Profile konstruiert, die für zukünftige Hochschulabsolvent*innen besondere Bedeutung haben. Um welche Kompetenzen es sich dabei handelt und wie sich diese zueinander verhalten, beschreibt der Beitrag zusammenfassend. Zudem wurden im Rahmen der Studie vier Entwicklungsstränge identifiziert, die einen starken Einfluss auf die zukünftige Entwicklung von Hochschulprofilen haben werden. Diese werden im Beitrag ebenfalls vorgestellt.

This report is an executive summary of the NextSkills study on the topic of Future Skills. The starting point is the realization that current higher education is not yet able to provide sufficient future concepts to meet the urgent challenges of our society. As part of the NextSkills study, 17 Future Skills profiles were constructed on the basis of in-depth interviews and assessments by experts surveyed worldwide, which are of particular importance for future university graduates. The article summarizes which skills are involved and how they relate to each other. In addition, the study identified four development strands that will have a strong influence on the future development of university profiles. These are also presented in the article.

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Future Skills: International Delphi Study on Future Skills and Future Higher Education

Future Skills Report 2019 is based on a number of prior research studies and presents a validated concept and elaborates a model of Future Skills, data on Future Learning and consolidated scenarios for Future Higher Education.
The results from this Delphi Survey are taking a broader view and go beyond digital skill demands. The approach elaborates on an experts’ informed vision of Future Higher Education (HE), takes into account the demand for Future Skills, outlines the four signposts of change which will shape the learning revolution in higher education and presents a first model of Future Skills for future graduates.

Future Skills: International Delphi Study on Future Skills and Future Higher Education

How will higher education institutions have to position in order to prepare future graduates for the changing society and future work place? The Future Skills Report 2019 is based on a number of prior research studies on Future Skills – future learning and future higher education. It presents validated concept and elaborates a model of Future Skills, data on future learning and consolidated scenarios for future higher education.


With fundamental changes in the job market and challenges in our societies due to a global and technological driver, research on Future Skills becomes increasingly relevant. However, many studies fall short on capturing the effects which technological advancements and global cooperation have today and will have in the future on higher education systems, skill development demands and labour market changes. They often reduce Future Skills directly to digital skills, which – as important as they are – only represent one side of the Future Skill coin.


The results presented from this Delphi survey are taking a broader view and go beyond digital skill demands. The approach elaborates on an experts’ informed vision of future higher education (HE), taking into account the demand for Future Skills, outlines the four signposts of change which will shape the learning revolution in higher education and presents a first model of Future Skills for future graduates.

Find out more about the Future Skills report here

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Blockchain Skills for Europe

Europe is in a leading position in many sectors that can successfully apply blockchain or other Distributed Ledger Technologies. At the same time, the lack of digital skills throughout Europe threatens to hamper and slow down innovation. CHAISE is a Sector Skill Alliance, funded by the European Commission, to set forward a sectoral approach to Blockchain skills Development. CHAISE will formulate and deliver a European strategy to address skill mismatches and shortages in the Blockchain Sector and deliver appropriate and future focused training, qualifications, and mobility solutions, geared to sectoral realities and needs.

If Europe is to play a leading role in the future of digital technology markets, European policy and member states will have to craft an efficient and effective strategy to set up an environment for Blockchain technology implementation. One important component of this environment will be the provision of skills for professionals in order to foster the future innovation development of Europe’s industries, services and society at large. The current report is the result of the currently largest globally available analysis of skill needs and demands for the Blockchain sector, covering all of 27 European member states. It has been developed through a committed consortium of industry and science partners
supported through the European commission and is presenting the state of play of Europe’s current Blockchain capabilities and future demands.

Find out more about the CHAISE project here

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Research on Studying and Teaching

Studying means more than just teaching, performance records and exams. Here, too, the NextEducation group at DHBW Karlsruhe is trying to take a new perspective and provide a platform for the needs of students and analyze the lessons learned.

Changing Futures in Higher Education: Assessment of Future Skills Learning

„Changing Futures in Higher Education: Assessment of Future Skills Learning” is the second report of the research series in the DIRK Dual project. It emphasizes the urge to support students in developing learner agency (Schoon, 2018) to learn FS in a self-organised way. FS, as competencies/dispositions to act (Ehlers, 2020), can neither be taught nor assessed like professional knowledge. For their development, students need formative feedback and the ability to self-reflect and self-assess rather than summative tests. This means, educators need to shift from assessments of learning towards assessments as learning (Yan & Boud, 2022). This transformation of assessment practices at Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) is an essential step to empowering students for lifelong learning.

Between October 2021 and February 2022, the authors mapped out different self-assessment approaches at German HEIs, focusing on portfolio work. Various types of instruments and concepts identified can be integrated differently into curricula and HEIs’ strategies. The authors categorise them into four integration types and present a corresponding model in this report: (1) individual/stand-alone, (2) course-integrated, (3) programme-integrated, and (4) institution-integrated and beyond. They differ in scope, the role of students and teachers, form and depth of integration into curricula (referring to the number of modules, voluntary or mandatory participation), and their usability beyond university purposes. Common to all four types is the transfer of the responsibility to reflect and deal with assessments of specific subject matters to learners themselves. The report presents good practices from German HEIs for each type. Although there are many good practices in place already, a common vision of the assessment practice of the future and strategic approaches rather than lighthouse projects are what we need.

Find out more about the DIRK dual project here

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Digitales Reflexionstool zur Kompetenzentwicklung im Dualen Studium

„Kompetenzlernen im Theorie-Praxis-Studium“ beschreibt, wie Lernende ihre Future Skills durch erfahrungsbasiertes Lernen und Reflexion entwickeln können, wie Future Skills in das duale Studium integriert werden können und welche Rolle Portfolioarbeit im dualen Studium für die Kompetenzentwicklung spielt. Auf Basis fundierter Modelle haben wir einen Reflexionszyklus entwickelt, der speziell für die Verzahnung von Theorie-Praxis-Lernräumen genutzt werden kann, um Lernende bei der Entwicklung ihrer Zukunftskompetenzen zu unterstützen. Ebenfalls beinhaltet der Report eine Liste beispielhafter konkreter Lernanlässe, die zum erfahrungsbasierten Lernen genutzt werden können.

Find out more about the DIRK dual project here

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Inclusive Engagement of Non-Traditional Students in Professional Higher Education

The world is changing, and so is higher education. The challenges of tomorrow cannot solely be resolved with today’s knowledge but by equipping all students with the necessary skills for doing so. However, this ambitious undertaking is not an obvious one. It needs students to engage with their institutions beyond classes and lectures, to become a full part of their higher education institutions.

However, in order for students to do so, they must feel like their institution is a place for all of them – welcome – and for this, all parts of the study journey must reflect the diversity of the student body. However, many students face specific challenges and barriers for becoming an integral part of the institution. In order to address these barriers, we must understand them and work towards representing all students on different levels. All students must feel welcome in student engagement and representation in order to reflect barriers and challenges for making higher education institutions adapt and change.

This report is the first step and the basis for addressing the related challenges in making Professional Higher Education more inclusive. It is the result of an iterative and multi-approach research conducted in the first half of the year 2021 and providing the basis for the next steps of the InclusiPHE project. The objectives of the research undertaken are summarized in the following figure.

Find out more about the InclusiPHE project here

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OER Research

Sharing is Caring. In order to provide optimal teaching methods in the networked and digital world, the NextEducation group at DHBW Karlsruhe is investigating the current state and potential developments of Open Education Systems and digitization in higher education.

Awareness, Experience and Organizational Maturity of Open Education

Current research is lacking to provide such individual target profiles representing subjective preferences of usage as well as awareness and expectations (Mishra et al. 2016). One crucial factor in the uptake of OER in higher education and business are the different preconditions that various stakeholders bring to the table. Mishra et al. attest to “a need to understand teachers’ psychological and behavioral determinants that may influence better use of OER” (2016). Furthermore, Cronin (2017) argues that openness in education is “always complex, personal, contextual, and continually negotiated”.

We therefore focus on this theme and aim to understand what motivation and awareness as well as attitudes and capacity different actors have, and how they differ according to their position in the education and training orchestration, if they are education professional or institutional leaders.

In our research we therefore ask the question: How can the attitude, the capacity and the awareness of educational professionals and of institutional policy makers be understood, described, differentiated and characterized? In an online survey we asked educational professionals and institutional leaders from business and higher education. A double gap emerges, with attitudes and quality perceptions differing despite similar backgrounds regarding OER awareness, experience, capacity, and organizational maturity. Also, an institutional policy – practice gap can be observed between leaders and professional educators with differing perceptions and attitudes between these groups presenting a challenge to the uptake of OER in higher education and business contexts. 

Find out more about the ENCORE+ project here

Open Education and Training – Where does Europe go from here?

Currently, the potential of open educational resources (OER) in Europe in higher education and business is not fully harnessed. The European Network for Catalysing Open Resources in Education (ENCORE+) responds to this by building the foundation of a European OER Ecosystem which is needed to fully realize the promise of open education.

This report therefore aims to map out the current situation or OER in Europe regarding the different stakeholders and their attitudes towards and experiences with OER, emerging issues in higher education and business, the need for open learning cultures, as well as the four main challenges to boosting the uptake of OER in Europe: technology, policy, quality, and innovation. Our report relies on a survey conducted amongst stakeholders from business and higher education, on interviews conducted with experts on OER, and on a review of relevant literature. 

Find out more about the ENCORE+ project here

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In Europe today, almost every higher education institution uses digitally enhanced learning and teaching. Since EUA began exploring this topic in 2013, digitally enhanced learning and teaching has been further embraced by higher education institutions across Europe, with general acceptance growing and institutions widely acknowledging the benefits it brings to the student experience.

This report maps the situation regarding digitally enhanced learning and teaching at European higher education institutions over the past seven years and is mainly based on data from a survey conducted between April and June 2020 via an online questionnaire to institutional leadership. Needless to say, this topic is extremely timely, and has become even more so in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, which sparked unprecedented uptake of digitally enhanced learning and teaching across the European Higher Education Area. This report aims to give readers insight into the strategic uptake of digitalisation, its impact and challenges in various areas of institutional life, expectations for the future, as well as changes accelerated by the current pandemic.

This publication has been developed under the Erasmus+ co-funded DIGI-HE project, led by EUA and in partnership with four universities, with the aim of supporting higher education institutions to engage in self-review to develop and enhance their strategic approaches to digitalisation.

Find out more about the DIGI-HE project here

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Digitally enhanced learning and teaching is widely used across the European Higher Education Area, with general acceptance growing over the years and institutions widely acknowledging the benefits it brings to the student experience.

The strategic focus being placed on digitally enhanced learning and teaching has increased, undoubtedly accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and is reflected in many national and European policies, with the renewed Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027) underlining “the development of a high-performing digital education ecosystem” as a strategic priority.

Set against this prerogative and growing strategic interest, this report presents a review of 20 instruments from around the globe designed for self-assessment of digitally enhanced learning and teaching at higher education institutions. It offers a number of insightful observations concerning their use (or non-use) by institutions for promoting both quality enhancement and digital capacity development. It should be of immediate interest to higher education institutions, but also to policy makers, developers of instruments, and generally, to all those who seek information on such instruments.


Find out more about the DIGI-HE project here

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Curriculum and assessment – Learning & Teaching Paper #16

As part of the DIGI-HE project, which focuses on Supporting European universities in their strategic approaches to digital learning, a Thematic Peer Group „Curriculum and Assessment“ has been looking at how digitally enhanced learning and teaching (DELT) and digital technologies can be integrated into curricula. The group was organized within the framework of the DIGI-HE project and the EUA’s activities in the field of learning and teaching.

Guiding this process was also the question of how to design and manage coherent digital assessment so that institutions can reflect on the learning outcomes achieved and work on implementation.

This report examines the diverse aspects of curricula and student outcomes in a digital environment and relates them to the challenges facing higher education institutions across Europe. Challenges include achieving equal opportunities for all students, developing effective institutional strategies for embedding DELT into curricula, and also supporting educators in integrating digital methods into their curriculum.

This report also provides concrete recommendations for European institutions of higher education on how to deal with challenges, also taking into account the context of the pandemic.

Find out more about the DIGI-HE project here


Students‘ Research Papers

We attach great importance to a creative, practical and collaborative approach that encourages students to work in an interdisciplinary and future-oriented way. For this purpose we develop concepts and tools for teachers and students.

KI und die Gesellschaft der Zukunft (2020)

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KI und die Gesellschaft der Zukunft (2021)

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