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University students are happier with online learning post-pandemic

New Jisc survey shows online learning is more engaging and motivating since 2020.
05 September 2023
  • Report

One of the largest datasets of university student experiences in the UK reveals there are increasingly positive perceptions of digital delivery:

  • 80% of students rate the quality of online learning on their course as above average
  • 83% think the use of digital technology makes learning more convenient
  • Almost three quarters (71%) agree that the use of technology allows them to make good progress with their learning

The 2022/23 digital experience insights survey of higher education students (pdf) captures how students use technology in their learning, their attitudes towards it and the benefits and challenges; this year the survey attracted 27,131 respondents.

The survey also shows improvements since 2020:

  • 71% say the support given to them by their organisation to learn effectively online is above average, a rise of more than 10 percentage points
  • Almost half of students (49%) agree that their online learning is engaging and motivating, an increase of 14 percentage points; but this means that more than half still don’t think this is the case

However, there are still opportunities to provide students with more support in developing their digital skills:

  • 8% of respondents said they don’t seek assistance at all
  • Less than half (43%) receive training for learning online
  • Only 39% agree they have been given development opportunities to build digital skills for future employment
  • Almost half (46%) do not agree that they are given guidance about the digital skills needed for their course.

Digital inequity proves to be another challenge. 33% of respondents state that poor wifi connections on campus have made it difficult to use digital technologies in their learning, with 32% stating that poor wifi connection was also a barrier to digital learning off campus. 12% have also had issues with mobile data costs on campus and 26% off campus.

Kathryn Heywood, head of business intelligence, data analytics at Jisc said:

“This year’s survey is a true reflection of the impressive work the sector has undertaken to make learning more accessible, flexible, and engaging for students.  While there are clear positives to be taken from the data each year, there are always opportunities to improve and provide students with the best learning experience possible based on their feedback.”

Sarah Knight, head of learning and teaching transformation, higher education at Jisc added:

“Engaging with students about their experiences of the digital environment is an essential part of baselining and benchmarking digital maturity. It is encouraging to see so many students happy with how online and blended learning is being delivered, and how it is supporting their learning outcomes.

“However, with only 49% of students agreeing that online learning is engaging and motivating (even though this is an increase from 2020) there is still more progress to be made.

“At Jisc we are developing a maturity model for digital transformation, building on our framework, to support HE leaders and organisations to create strategic visions for digital transformation, helping to devise actionable plans.

“The model will have a focus on people and practices first and foremost, as well as processes and technology. It will feature advice on culture, capacity, investment, infrastructure, and digital skills.”

Jisc has worked closely with sector bodies and members to inform the model, ensuring it will prove invaluable in supporting the development of digital strategies and transformation across the sector. Read our framework for digital transformation and register your interest for our maturity model.

Jisc’s annual digital experience insights surveys service offers surveys for students, teaching staff and professional service staff.