UK government expectations are that, 90% of all jobs will require some element of digital skills by 2037 (Skills Funding Agency, 2016). It is therefore important that universities and colleges prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s workplace. Understanding how students use technology in their learning is essential to inform institutional strategies and practice.
Universities and colleges invest large sums of money into their digital environment (AoC, 2018). But how do we know that this investment results in staff and students using the technology effectively? Jisc created the digital experience insights surveys (Jisc, 2016-2019) to support institutions to gather staff and students’ expectations and experiences of technology. The surveys offer valid, representative and actionable data that facilitates conversations designed to improve the digital experience. Bringing technology into the learning process, can be transformative and contribute toward successful employment –64% of FE and 73% of HE students agreed that they are more independent in their learning when digital is used. The process empowers students to contribute their views and ideas on how technology can better support their learning. The data is also enabling colleges and universities to respond to issues quickly and to inform investment decisions.
The surveys build on findings from student-centred research conducted over 3 years (Jisc 2014-16). This revealed that despite long-term investment in infrastructure, few institutions collected evidence about student experiences of digital learning. Those that did so typically used one-off surveys that did not allow for comparisons or year-on-year tracking. University and college leaders wanted up-to-date information about their own students – and they wanted to know that it was robust.
The survey has been developed in partnership with students and staff (UK and international) over a three-year period. It has involved over 100 institutions and 72,500 students and staff. It uses 25 questions (closed and open-ended) to explore how students are using technology, their access to technology within their institution, the use of technology on their course and their attitudes to learning. This is administered through the Jisc online survey system. The survey is the second largest international survey of its kind. It differs from other surveys in that institutions own the process, and share ownership of the anonymised student data, and in the emphasis on student involvement throughout.
This presentation reports on the research findings from the Digital experience insights survey 2019. Over 90 UK universities and colleges and approximately 30,000 students participated this year. The session will highlight the issues students are experiencing with their use of technology for example, the development of their digital skills, concerns over the use of their data and digital wellbeing, as well as recommendations for colleges and universities on how to support an excellent digital experience for all students.
The presentation will share the data analysis processes which include establishing sector benchmarking groups, ensuring data is representative and the uses and limitations of data. It will show how critical use of student data contributes to policy and practice as well as adding power to the student voice. The aim is to share our experience in managing the challenges of working with a large quantity of qualitative data.
Association of Colleges (2018). College IT and Digital Technology Survey 2018. Available at: https://www.aoc.co.uk/about-colleges/research-and-stats/surveys-and-research/aoc-surveys [Accessed 28 May 2019].
Jisc (2018). Digital experience insights service. Available at: https://digitalinsights.jisc.ac.uk. [Accessed 8 March 2018].
Langer-Crame, M. Newman, T., Beetham, H. and Knight, S. (2019). Digital experience insights survey 2019: findings from students in UK further and higher education. Jisc. Available at: https://digitalinsights.jisc.ac.uk/our-service/our-reports/ [Available from 1 September 2019].
Skills Funding Agency (2016). Review of publicly funded digital skills qualifications (2016). SFA. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/review-of-publicly-funded-digital-skills-qualifications [Accessed 10 March 2019].
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