The Secret to Realizing the Potential for Technology-Enabled Teaching and Learning

FACULTY ARE KEY TO TECHNOLOGY SUCCESS

In a few days, higher education IT leaders from across the country will be gathering in Philadelphia at the annual EDUCAUSE conference. The agenda will be full of interesting and important topics to improve student success, security and cost effectiveness.

Technology on campus and in classrooms is certainly not new. For decades, a whole host of technology solutions — ranging from student information systems to learning management systems to predictive analytics platforms — have made their way into the higher education ecosystem.

Despite countless dollars being invested in the spirit of innovation, research has shown that the success of technology integration, particularly in the classroom, is largely dependent on each faculty member’s interest, willingness or even understanding of how to use the technology.

THOUGHTS ON I.T.

The EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) recently released its third annual survey of faculty members’ perspectives on information technology. With responses from nearly 13,500 faculty members, the report makes it clear that faculty have a critical role to play in “shaping the experience of campus technology for their students and other faculty, and that in some ways faculty are embracing and thriving in these roles. It is also clear, however, that in other ways faculty are struggling to accommodate the preferences and requirements of an increasingly high-tech student body.”

ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS

The report offers a wealth of key findings, several of which are directly addressable through improved engagement and support of faculty members. The report states that:

  • Faculty are self-selecting into the teaching modalities they believe in. Of faculty who prefer to teach entirely face-to-face, most do not believe that online learning helps students learn more effectively. Of faculty who prefer to teach completely online, however, most agree that it does.

  • Faculty have a love–hate relationship with online teaching and learning: They don’t want to do it, but think they would be better instructors if they did. Most faculty believe they could be more effective instructors if they were better skilled at integrating various technologies into their courses.

  • Despite the increasingly widespread use of student success management systems in higher education, many faculty do not use them. This, despite these systems’ potential to inform faculty members’ teaching and advising.

The report finds that there is a disconnect between faculty members’ perceived benefits of technology when compared with that of their students. And, more important, when faculty are not clear on the benefits of certain instructional technologies, they tend not to engage in the modalities that use those technologies, potentially creating a divide between student needs and faculty practice.

As the report concludes, “In a postsecondary environment that will likely only continue to become more digitized, awareness and understanding of faculty skepticism about, and even resistance to, new educational technologies will be critical for future pedagogical effectiveness and student learning outcomes.”

BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN THEORY AND PRACTICE

As IT leaders gather at EDUCAUSE to consider technology innovations to bring to their institutions, it is imperative they consider the full spectrum of support needed to ensure the success and integration of the investment by faculty members.

Professional development is the key to engaging faculty in the adoption of technology solutions but, unfortunately, the standard approach — workshops, lectures and videos — hasn’t proven to be very effective. Too few faculty want to take part. It’s a one-size-fits-all “deficit” model. Limited data is generated. And, traditional professional development doesn’t show whether student outcomes are impacted.

Faculty Guild is on a mission to reinvent professional development. We offer a place for faculty members to think and reflect on their own teaching practices in a nonevaluative environment, building on their strengths, as detailed in Taking College Teaching Seriously: Pedagogy Matters!

CONNECT AT EDUCAUSE

We look forward to attending EDUCAUSE in Philadelphia (October 31 – November 3, 2017). If you plan to attend and would like to talk with us about how other institutions are considering faculty development as the missing piece to any technology adoption, please let us know