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Teaching staff need greater support to develop vital digital skills, survey finds

Last updated: 11-07-2019

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Teaching staff need greater support to develop vital digital skills, survey finds

A new Jisc survey of 6,534 members of teaching staff at 61 UK colleges and universities reveals that less than 15% are given time to innovate or recognised for developing digital skills.

Launched today at an event hosted by Jisc and the Independent Commission on the College of the Future, the digital experience insights survey findings suggest that teaching staff need more time and support to innovate in their use of technology.

Despite Office for Students’ predications that more than a million digitally skilled people will be needed by 2022 and a recognition within the government’s edtech strategy that ‘technology is increasingly part of our society’, only about third of the survey respondents agree they have regular opportunities to develop digital skills.

Further, just 15% of the 3,049 respondents working in further education (FE) and only 13% of the 3,485 respondents working in higher education (HE) agree that they have time and support to innovate. As little as 14% in FE and 9% of staff in HE agree that they receive reward or recognition when they develop digital aspects of their role.

Reflecting on the results, Professor Sir Ian Diamond – chair of the Independent Commission on the College of the Future and the UK’s national statistician – comments:

“Colleges and universities are investing in infrastructure and their digital environment. Now is the time to ensure that the systematic and continuous updating of staff digital skills is prioritised too. "The world of work is changing at pace, so it is crucial that students are equipped for our increasingly digital workplaces. This is only possible if teaching staff are confident and encouraged in their use of technology, now and in the future.”

Among respondents to the survey, around a third (33% in FE and 27% in HE) agree that they receive guidance about the digital skills they are expected to have - but, within the survey, a member of HE teaching staff notes:

“One of the reasons many tutors don't trial new technologies is they are afraid they will not be able to manage or deliver them in front of students, and that this will impact adversely on the learning experience and create embarrassment. It is not enough to be given instruction on how to use new technology. We need to be able to try it out in a situation where, if we fail, it won't matter.”

“We work with colleges and universities to review their digital practice, helping to create a technology-focused environment that works for all. "FE and HE staff need the confidence and capabilities to embed technology within teaching and learning, to deliver the world-class experience students deserve, and to prepare learners for the jobs of tomorrow.”

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