By Nicole Barbaro, PhD, Senior Communications Content Manager, WGU Labs
The technological transformation of higher education has brought about substantial change to the average college student’s learning experience. EdTech is more ubiquitous than ever before. College courses are offered in a variety of online and in-person formats. And, student support services are becoming increasingly hybrid.
The data presented as part of our EdTech Survey Series with students and faculty show that higher education is bound for a technology-enabled future. When implemented well, the integration of EdTech into students’ learning experiences can provide ample opportunity to boost student success.
But students are expecting more from their institutions today: they want high-quality, effective learning both in person and online, in addition to multi-modal options for academic, support, career, and social experiences. The ubiquitous nature of EdTech within the college experience necessitates that college leaders act to ensure the best possible experiences with EdTech to improve student satisfaction and success.
Learn more by downloading our 2022 CIN EdTech Student Survey report
Our 2022 data show that institutions have made many improvements in students’ tech-enabled learning experiences since the 2020-21 academic year, but there remain areas for innovation. To meet student expectations, institutions must commit to improving the student EdTech experience year after year. Based on the data reported in this 2022 report, we recommend three strategies to do so.
Invest in Tech Support for Students
Our 2022 data show that 30% of students surveyed reported encountering difficulties using or accessing EdTech needed for online learning, and just over half of students reported that their institution was helpful in resolving such issues. Although this is an improvement from the 2020-21 academic year, there remain substantial gaps to be filled with student tech support.
As EdTech is increasingly needed to participate in college courses, students need variable support options – both in-person and online – from institutions and EdTech companies to ensure they can fully engage with the course, content, and their peers. Especially as college courses with fully online components become more common, which allow for students to engage with the course on their own schedule, institutions must rethink how they staff tech support on campus – staffed offices only during regular business hours are not effectively serving many students.
Identify Students Who Struggle With EdTech Early
Our 2022 data shows that 24% of students surveyed report struggling with learning how to use EdTech, and 37% of students surveyed report that most of the EdTech they used in the past year was new to them. This matters because students who report struggling with EdTech also report feeling less confident about adapting to new EdTech, and feeling less confident about their next educational steps, among other things.
Boosting student confidence in their ability to adapt to changing technology and improving their experience using EdTech can be improved by identifying struggling students early on in the term. This can be achieved both at the university level and the course level.
Universities can ensure proper education and training with university-wide EdTech systems such as their learning management system, email and communications channels, and how to resolve issues. Faculty in courses can survey students during the first week of courses about their skill level and confidence in using the variety of technologies that are being used in the course. By proactively offering EdTech instruction and resolving gaps in knowledge early, EdTech can be a source of enhancing learning rather than a barrier to it.
Rethink Implementation of Learning Science in Online Course Modalities
Our 2022 data show that students want more online learning options but they remain critical of the quality of learning they receive in online courses, and whether the credentials they earn are equivalent to in-person credentials. There are many potential reasons why online learning is perceived as lower quality. Ensuring that online courses are being designed around learning science is one way to combat this perception gap.
The near-universal shift to online learning in higher education in 2020 revealed that online learning has different challenges that must be addressed compared to in-person learning. Creating the online courses that students want requires intentional design, creative thinking, and a deep understanding of the user experience with technology and online settings. Although similar learning principles will apply in all course modalities, the implementation of those principles will look different.
Overall, the 2022 CIN EdTech Student Survey shows that students are adapting well to the technology-enabled new normal of their higher education experiences. In fact, 88% of students surveyed report feeling confident in their ability to adapt to new EdTech being used in their courses, up from 83% in 2021. As our students, faculty, and institutions continue to change, the CIN EdTech Survey Series will continue to track the perils, progress, and predictions of the new technology-enabled state of higher education.