Inside Higher Ed Attitudes toward Technology Survey

Yesterday afternoon I listened to a webinar from the folks at Inside Higher Ed on the results of their 2015 survey of faculty and administrator attitudes toward technology. The presenters focused on just a few of the items from this survey and I wanted to share a taste of what they found and some of the interpretations that were given from the presenters at IHE.

First when comparing faculty and administrators, there was a large difference in opinion about whether or not online learning could achieve the same outcomes as face-to-face courses (faculty 17%, administrators 62%). The presenters were careful to note that this asked about perceived achievement of outcomes. The presenters also elaborated and found that this opinion was more common with courses not taught by faculty. They found elsewhere in the survey that faculty believed their own online courses could meet outcomes pretty well (but not necessarily as well as face-to-face) but attitudes became more negative the more distant the course was (e.g. not taught at my school, not taught by me). The presenters also speculated that the faculty taking this survey may be making unfair comparisons. One presenter speculated that comparisons of online courses were being made to the traditional ‘liberal arts seminar’ class with few students and discussion based. However, I did not see any evidence for this speculation in the data.

Second, it appears that faculty are not aware of what are referred to as Open Educational Resources (OERs) available online. Or they may be aware of them, but not sure how to best find and select them. Some OERs do go through a vetting process to help ensure quality, others do not. I believe the shear volume of materials available out there become overwhelming for faculty as well. The presenters suggested that most faculty are very familiar and comfortable with the process of obtaining materials from publishers and thus tend to use those materials. But the process for OERs is less familiar. One of the things I’d like to try to do is to help develop some form of ‘clearinghouse’ for OERs that our faculty might be able to access. I’d likely be working in conjunction with the librarians and the new teaching and learning coordinator on this project.

Third, and interesting to me, was the finding the gulf between faculty and administrators on the issue of training. Administrators tended to believe that there were good training available whereas the faculty did not. This is another area I hope to address on our campus and will strive to make training opportunities available and to help faculty become aware of these opportunities. Additionally, the presenters focused on the issue of the perceived reward for effectively using technology. Many faculty did not perceive that the effective use of technology was particularly rewarded at their campuses. I wonder with some of our current reward systems at Morningside, if something can be done to specifically reward creative and effective use of instructional technology.

Finally the presenters shared that one of the things that faculty are most excited about is hybrid teaching (some online and some face to face elements). To some extent I think many people at Morningside do this already even though the course is not officially listed as Hybrid. The presenters also suggested that many faculty are doing hybrid courses without even really being aware of it.

In all the webinar provided a snapshot of the survey results and I think the presenters chose wisely as to which parts of the survey to share. I know that I came away with a few ideas for where to focus my efforts.

A summary of the webinar from the IHE website can be found here. There is a link to the full report also available on that site.