From education to employment

Teaching staff need greater support to develop vital digital skills

UK-wide survey, published today, reveals college and university teaching staff have insufficient time to innovate and don’t receive recognition for developing key digital skills 

A new survey, conducted by the education and technology not-for-profit Jisc explores the digital experiences of 6,534 members of teaching staff at 61 UK colleges and universities.

  • Less than 15% of UK college and university teaching staff agree they have time and support to innovate using digital technologies. 
  • Just 14% of teaching staff in further education (FE) and 9% in higher education (HE) agree they receive recognition for developing digital skills.
  • Only around a third of teaching staff agree they have regular opportunities to develop their digital skills

Launched at an event hosted today by Jisc and the Independent Commission on the College of the Future, the 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 FE and only 13% of the 3,485 respondents working in HE agree that they have time and support to innovate. As little as 14% of staff in FE and 9% in HE agree that they receive reward or recognition when they develop digital aspects of their role.

Ian diamond 100x100Reflecting 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.”

Trial and error

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.”

Delivering a world-class education

Sarah Knight, Jisc’s head of change – student experience, says:

“At Jisc, 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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