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Teaching with Technology Survey

Survey: Faculty Confident in Their Own Tech Skills, but Say Student Skills Lag

In our latest Teaching with Technology Survey, most faculty said they are comfortable using tech in the classroom, but many reported low-to-average tech skills among their students.

teacher and student working on computer

Nearly all faculty in a recent survey believe they have adequate skills (or better) to get the job done when it comes to teaching with technology. And a full 77 percent said they are "absolutely confident" or "very confident" with tech use.

These findings come out of Campus Technology's 2018 Teaching with Technology Survey, which asked higher education faculty at colleges and universities across the country about their use of tech in the classroom, students' tech skills, the availability of tech support and more.

faculty reporting on their own tech abilities

While most survey respondents feel comfortable with technology, a small portion (just 2 percent) still lack confidence, calling their tech skills "below average." Respondents' estimation of students' tech abilities, however, is significantly worse: Fourteen percent of respondents called their students "below average" or "failing" in the technology department. About half of faculty said their students had average tech skills, and only a third judged their students' tech skills "above average" or "excellent."

faculty reporting on the tech abilities of their students

"Several of my freshmen students come to campus with few technology skills," shared one faculty member at a four-year public institution in Indiana. "I am not sure where they are missing getting these skills, but they know very little about the tools built into word processors or how to research apps for proper use with students. They need more exposure to the tools in word processors that allow them to collect research, properly cite references in multiple formats, and work with graphics in a word processor. Those basic skills translate to other applications and are necessary for college work."

Another faculty member at a four-year private nonprofit institution in Florida agreed: "Digital literacies need to be defined and planned for! Our students vastly overestimate their abilities."

We also asked faculty where they turn when they need technology help. Sixty-two percent of respondents said they have access to adequate support and training for their tech use. About one-third — 34 percent — prefer to do an online search to solve tech problems that come up. Twenty-four percent seek help from the IT department, while 16 percent turn to an instructional technologist. And 15 percent get tech help from peers.

preferred source for help with technology

Some of our survey respondents expressed frustration with the proliferation of technology in education — and the time required for training and support. "Administrators need to realize the purpose of technology in education is to make things easier on everyone and facilitate student learning," said one faculty member at a four-year private nonprofit institution in Indiana. "There is still too much time spent on making it all 'work.'"

"So many possibilities, and so little help for teachers to use them — teachers and faculty just don't have time to learn and do all the tech on their own," added a faculty member at a four-year public institution in Georgia. "It is ever expanding!"

Still, there was also a sense of optimism: "I have had the honor of working with faculty as they work to gain ed tech skills and as they transform their curricula to meet today's blended learning requirements," said a faculty member at a four-year public institution in Nebraska. "Today's educators are a resilient bunch, and will be good leaders for the next generation. I have worked also with upcoming students and residents, and have every confidence that the next generation will do just fine integrating ed tech in their excellent education offerings." 

Note: We will post more results from the survey over the coming weeks. You can check back for ongoing coverage in our Research section.

Who Responded

Our survey polled 161 faculty members across the United States about the use of technology in higher education. The majority of respondents (67 percent) come from public institutions, with 29 percent from private nonprofits and 4 percent working at for-profit schools. Sixty-seven percent work at four-year colleges or universities; 26 percent are at community colleges; and 7 percent designated their institutional level as "other."

Respondents represent institutions of a range of sizes, with 46 percent working in colleges or universities with 10,000 students or more. Twenty-five percent of respondents are from institutions with 2,500 to 9,999 students; 16 percent from institutions with 1,000 to 2,400 students; and 13 percent from institutions counting under 1,000 students.

Sixty percent of respondents have 21-plus years of experience in the education field, while 30 percent have 11 to 20 years of experience under their belts. Just 2 percent are newbies with under five years of experience.

Respondents work in a variety of disciplines, ranging from pharmacy and law to humanities and engineering. The top two most common school and college types represented were education (38 percent of respondents) and business/business administration (26 percent).

The top states with the most survey respondents are Texas, New York, California, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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