The 2022 digital experience insights higher education teaching staff survey provides a fascinating insight into a sector in transition to a more sophisticated digital learning and teaching experience.
The report aims to highlight areas of success and suggest targets for development for the higher education (HE) sector around digital skills and practice, equipment, and connectivity. This survey is important both as a record of teacher beliefs and attitudes in HE but also sits as a companion piece to the digital experience insights student survey 2022, which was released in September.
More than 3,500 teaching staff from 30 universities participated, sharing how they use technology to support their teaching. The results were collected between November 2021 and July 2022, the first academic year not disturbed by lockdowns since 2019/20, meaning these figures reveal a sector in transition, from one reality to another, forever changed by the experiences of both teachers and students since March 2020.
As institutions face the challenge of creating curricula which respond to the expectations of the pandemic generation, it will be more important than ever to ensure both staff and students are invested to enable them to optimise what ‘digital’ has to offer. The famous quote “no curriculum development without staff development” has a particular resonance here.
Today’s students expect choice and flexibility in their study – Jisc’s recent HE student digital experience survey found that more students preferred a blended learning approach to mainly face-to-face for the first time. Students now have a clear understanding of the power of digital tools and platforms and expect to see them used in a way which reflects their learning needs. This is a challenge for higher education institutions (HEIs) to reflect on and act to address. What was once seen as acceptable is no longer.
The recent review of blended learning by the Office for Students (OfS) recommended that educational organisations invest in digital training support for staff and students. Less than half (48%) of respondents to the digital experience survey rated their digital support as ‘above average’, down from 54% last year. In addition, only 6% of teaching staff reported being rewarded or recognised for their work with digital. The continuing digital transformation in the sector means now is the time to invest in digital support.
The OfS review also recommends using pedagogical needs to dictate the use of digital elements in curricula. Pairing the right technology tools and staff development and reward practices with student needs and curriculum design will result in a better student experience.
At this moment, when expectations are rightly high and digital transformation is touching every part of modern life, it is both critical and timely that HEIs support their educators, review their teaching and learning strategies and consider the extent to which the level of digital competence needed is reflected in staff and student development and support. They also need to ensure the right equipment is available to individual teaching staff and consider how reward and recognition strategies reflect the pressing demand to ‘up our game’ in the digital teaching and learning space.