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Call for Chapters: Digital Transformation and Disruption of Higher Education | Cambridge University Press

Categories: Digital Humanities, Pedagogy, Science
Event Date: 2021-02-28 Abstract Due: 2020-10-31

Call for Chapters: Digital Transformation and Disruption of Higher Education

Edition to be published by Cambridge University Press
Book editor: Andreas Kaplan (kaplan@escp.eu)

For some time now, (higher) education has been subject to a series of fundamental challenges, such as an increase in competition world-wide, a decrease in financial resources and (public) funding, as well as a more general questioning of its broader societal role and overall mission (Pucciarelli and Kaplan 2019; Kaplan 2014). In addition, higher education’s digital transformation is currently underway; some even speak of its digital disruption. Considering the acceleration of the sector’s digitalization due to the recent Covid-19 health crisis, this edited book intends to shed light on the digital transformation and potential disruption of higher education.

In 2012, the New York Times proclaimed the year of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course; Kaplan 2017), explaining that online courses delivered on platforms such as Coursera, edX, and Udacity would disrupt the higher education sector (Kaplan and Haenlein 2016). So far, this has not been the case. Already back then, universities worldwide pointed to the fact that education requires far more than learning theoretical content, and referred to other activities like networking, certification, career service, and social events. Indeed, a decade ago, very few presumed that MOOCs could replace these aspects of higher education – but nobody said that they are not replaceable by other means, either. In particular, EdTech (educational technology) start-ups increasingly entered the landscape of higher education, augmenting and even replacing universities and schools in certain of the aforementioned areas.

Due to this digitalization, new teaching formats have arisen. Adaptive learning powered by artificial intelligence (AI) serves as one example. Program curricula and course content are influenced by society’s digital transformation and in consequence they may evolve toward the acquisition of competencies and skills (Kaplan 2018) as opposed to the learning of pure knowledge. The Internet has developed several ways to nurse one’s network outside of the university with, e.g., LinkedIn often said to have become any alumni association’s biggest competitor. EdTech companies are increasingly replacing universities in their role as career centres and first point-of-contact to potential employers, even challenging them in their role as sole provider of official degrees and certification bodies (Kaplan 2020). These are just some examples of how digitalization may transform, or even possibly disrupt, the higher education landscape.

This book’s intention is to bring together the analyses and insights of researchers and scientists worldwide, but practitioners are also more than welcomed as chapter authors. All types of contributions are considered, ranging from real-life case studies to best practices, conceptual papers, empirical studies, literature reviews, and the like. This book aims to analyse higher education's digital transformation from a holistic point of view and provide a balanced and critical account of the sector’s digitalization, emerging educational technology, its impact, opportunities as well as challenges, and to showcase a wide variety of opinions and viewpoints.

  • Kaplan A. (2014) European Management and European Business Schools: Insights from the History of Business Schools, European Management Journal, 32(4), 529-534.
  • Kaplan A. (2017) Academia Goes Social Media, MOOC, SPOC, SMOC, and SSOC: The digital transformation of Higher Education Institutions and Universities, in Bikramjit Rishi and Subir Bandyopadhyay (eds.), Contemporary Issues in Social Media Marketing, Routledge.
  • Kaplan A. (2018) “A School is a Building that Has 4 Walls - with Tomorrow Inside”: Toward the Reinvention of the Business School, Business Horizons, 61(4), 599-608.
  • Kaplan, A. (2020) Universities, Be Aware: Start-Ups Strip Away Your Glory; About EdTech’s potential take-over of the higher education sector; efmdglobal.org, May 11, 2020.
  • Kaplan A., Haenlein M. (2016) Higher Education and the Digital Revolution: About MOOCs, SPOCs, Social Media and the Cookie Monster, Business Horizons, 59(4), 441-450.
  • Pucciarelli F., Kaplan A. (2019) Competition in Higher Education, in Bang Nguyen, T C Melewar and Jane Hemsley-Brown (editors) Strategic Brand Management in Higher Education, Routledge, New York.

Tentative chapter outline:

(R)evolution of the higher education sector: In this book’s first part, chapters will give a general overview of higher education’s digitalization and the sector’s likely changes, which we will see over the next couple of years. Chapters can treat, e.g., the broader university landscape, the rise of EdTech companies, or also the increasing interest of venture capitalist in the higher education area.

Changes in teaching formats: In this section, chapters could treat advances in MOOCs, SPOCs (small private online courses), and further online formats. Moreover, several examples exist where EdTech helps to improve teaching. In the case of adaptive learning, e.g., EdTech has the potential to improve teaching directly: AI (artificial intelligence)-based online tools help to adapt the speed and level of teaching to a student’s progress. Such data, also referred to as “learning analytics,” can help professors to adjust even their offline teaching.

Changes in teaching content: Digital transformation has also had an impact on course content. Due to digitalization and advances in AI, it is quite unclear what knowledge and skills are demanded by the jobs of the future. Employees will have to show high adaptability and flexibility. How should higher education prepare students and executive education participants for this new reality? What should be taught in programs and courses? How should curricula be designed? These are questions to be potentially treated in this part of the book.

Networking and social activities: Often the best experiences at university turn on having found valuable contacts, friends, or, in some cases, a partner for life. These memories strongly influence students’ attachment to their alma mater. The Internet, however, provides more and more ways to nurse one’s network or find friends (and partners) outside of the university. Recently, specific higher education start-ups have entered higher education’s social perimeter. Chapters in this part could treat questions such as what this means for universities, if they should fight to stay as hubs for socializing activities, or how a higher education institution can provide networking possibilities when students come less and less to university and are pursuing their studies online.

Certification and diplomas: Traditional universities have been the sole providers of official degrees, which, in parts due to the sector’s digital transformation, has changed over time. Still, employers prefer to hire pre-selected students from specific universities, which display a certain profile and set of competencies. What if an EdTech company were able to pre-select students, too? Data is often proclaimed as the new oil, and EdTech companies have lots of data. Chapters in this section would analyse how far digital transformation has come in potentially changing certification and diploma delivery, how far it could go in the future, pushes for so-called micro-degrees, and lifelong learning possibilities.

Careers and professionalization: Within this part of the book, chapters should treat any professionalization services impacted by higher education’s digitalization. Recently, e.g., universities and especially business schools have started to outsource their career services to EdTech start-ups providing the same service to students. Based on their profiles, students are matched with potential employers. EdTech replaces universities in this aspect, which could be tricky since alumni are often most thankful for having found their dream job thanks to their alma mater.

Futuristic and ultramodern higher education: In this section, chapters could look at ultramodern higher education focusing on, e.g., adaptive learning technologies or pedagogical simulation games using 3D virtual reality headsets. Moreover, one could think of articles describing artificial intelligence technology using facial recognition software to observe students’ emotional states when listening to a lecture, studying, or writing an exam. This book’s last part is intended to give an outlook into higher education’s potential future.

Contributor guidelines:

If you are interested in contributing a book chapter, please send a two-pager with a proposal for your intended chapter to kaplan@escp.eu by October 31st, 2020. Each proposal will be reviewed along the following criteria: (1) Expected contribution, (2) clarity and feasibility, and (3) fit with the tentative chapter outline and further proposals submitted. You can expect a decision on whether you will be invited to submit a full chapter at the latest by November 15th, 2020.

In your chapter proposal, you should clearly state (1) the type of chapter you would like to write (e.g., case study; conceptual piece; empirical study; literature review; etc.), (2) where in the tentative chapter outline (see above) your work would fit best (e.g., changes in teaching content), and (3) what your contribution will be with respect to the edition’s intent.

If your proposal is accepted, your full chapter will be expected by February 28th, 2021. Chapters should be approximately 25-35 manuscript pages (all inclusive) and conform to APA style. All chapters will go through a review process upon final decision.

Intended readership includes the field’s research community, the leadership teams of universities and higher education institutions worldwide, investors and EdTech (educational technology) actors, teaching professionals and employees within the sector, but also the broader public interested in (higher) education’s future.

Important deadlines:

  • Chapter proposals (2 pages maximum) by October 31st, 2020
  • Full chapter submissions (25-35 pages) by February 28th, 2021
  • Correspondence to Andreas Kaplan: kaplan@escp.eu

About the editor:

Andreas M. Kaplan has more than ten years of leadership experience in the higher education sector. He is currently Dean and Rector at ESCP Business School, a position elected by faculty, students, as well as staff representatives. Previously, he served as Provost and Dean for Academic Affairs in charge of approximately 6000 students and nearly 30 degree programs ranging from undergraduate, to Master and MBA, up to PhD programs.

Kaplan is particularly interested in the future of education as impacted by digital transformation and disruption, increased competition, and reduced (public) funding, and has published extensively in this area in academic as well as practitioner-oriented journals. Defining European management as “cross-cultural, societal management based on an interdisciplinary approach” and Europe as holding “maximum cultural diversity at minimal geographical distances,” Professor Kaplan is distinctly implicated in the European higher education landscape. He regularly acts as keynote speaker and presenter at conferences, workshops, and seminars.

European at heart, Kaplan did most of his studies and has spent his professional career alternating between France and Germany. Furthermore, he has lived and worked in Austria, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the UK. Professor Kaplan obtained his Habilitation at the Sorbonne and his Doctorate at the University of Cologne. He holds an MPA from the École Nationale d'Administration (ENA, Class of République), an MSc from ESCP Business School, and a BSc from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.


Andreas Kaplan