Staff satisfaction with support for online teaching drops

Sector’s digital ambitions not matched by training, investment and support for staff in transition to more online learning, finds Jisc survey

December 7, 2022
A student watches an online lesson
Source: iStock

Higher education staff feel they are getting less support to teach online than they were a year ago, despite universities’ commitment to providing more digital and hybrid education, a survey has revealed.

Less than half (48 per cent) of those polled by UK technology agency Jisc rate the support offered by their university to help them effectively teach remotely as above average.

This was down from the 54 per cent of those who answered an equivalent question in last year’s Digital Experience Insights Survey.

Only 14 per cent say they have had an assessment of their digital skills to judge what further training they may need and 6 per cent agree that they are rewarded or recognised for their digital competency. 

Universities have continued to keep elements of their courses online even as Covid restrictions were eased over the last year but questions have been raised over whether the sector’s digital infrastructure can keep up with such digital ambitions.

Eighty-nine per cent of survey respondents say they are conducting some of their teaching from home but half say they have experienced technical issues doing so, with poor wi-fi connections the most common grievance.

Despite the issues, half (53 per cent) of respondents say they prefer a mix of on-site and online teaching with 39 per cent saying they want mostly on-site and only 8 per cent calling for mostly online.

Investment should focus on upgrading platforms and systems, according to 37 per cent of those polled, with 32 per cent calling for better IT support and 16 per cent wanting more computers or devices.

IT teams appear to be spurned by some higher education staff, who seem more likely to look to other colleagues for help with technology. In the survey 73 per cent say they sought support from fellow teachers, compared with 48 per cent who went to IT.

Alison Johns, the chief executive of Advance HE, says that while the sector is “in transition” towards “more sophisticated” forms of online teaching and learning, investment in digital skills is “essential”.

“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 higher education institutions 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,” she writes in a foreword to the Jisc report.

“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.”

tom.williams@timeshighereducation.com

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