Students have stated their frustration at staff’s inconsistent use of technology, with 22,000 voicing their opinions on the use of digital at their institutions in our digital student tracker report (pdf).
Many reported that they were frustrated with the variety of systems used by staff, and that some refused to use digital tools altogether. Some mentioned they felt staff had not been trained to use systems effectively, or did not seem to be getting enough training or support.
However, when asked what their institution should do and not do, students requested a better use of digital systems, not more, fearing it could be used to replace face-to-face time with staff.
One student said:
“Don’t encourage or enforce online group work as it is better to meet. There has to be more group activities that require face to face contact with lecturers and learning practical skills”
“Don’t allow academic staff to pick their own ways of using digital resources. At the moment each academic uses the virtual learning environment (VLE) in a different way, making it very time consuming to keep switching approaches. It’s also obvious that academic staff have not received adequate training in using these systems”
However, learners do value the convenience of digital systems provided by their learning organisation. 80% of students surveyed reply on their institution’s VLE to do their coursework, 67% regularly access the VLE via a mobile device, and 80% found submitting assignments electronically more convenient.
Sarah Knight, our head of change - student experience, said:
“Our survey showed digital technology is most often used for accessing information and for the production of work in a digital format, and is valued for its convenience and is a great way to fit learning into the busy lives of students. It’s clear that students want the same convenience they get from using digital in their day to day lives, at university.
What they don’t want, is a deluge of different technologies and ways of using them. Institutions need to adopt a joined-up approach to digital, in order to meet the needs of students”
The survey also showed that students want institutions to use digital to connect them with other students, and to provide lecture-based quizzes and polls. The anonymity factor played a huge role here, one student said:
“…we voted on questions and got to see the results at the end. Closed answers made it more honest and were really useful to see what other people thought”
Personalised learning with digital tools came out positively, with 40% of HE learners surveyed using social media to discuss their work informally ‘weekly or more often’. 59% access learning on the move weekly or more, and 60% using digital tools to make notes.
The report is the largest of its kind, and aims to paint a national picture of the student digital experience, encouraging organisations to work with students in order to create learning environments that harness the power of technology.