2022/23 UK higher education teaching staff digital experience insights survey findings
The digital experience insights survey for higher education teaching staff took place between October 2022 and June 2023. Participating universities were able to select their own survey period within these dates, typically a three to four week window.
There were 2,437 respondents from 30 different universities. 20 of these were based in England, five in Wales, three in Scotland and two in Northern Ireland. These 30 organisations represent 14% of all higher education providers in the UK.
The highest number of responses from a single organisation was 248 teaching staff (18% of their total teaching staff population) and the mean number of responses was 81 per organisation (on average 9% of the total number of teaching staff in each organisation that participated). However, five of the 30 organisations contributed fewer than 20 responses.
A survey indicating the digital experience of further education teaching staff was run simultaneously and results can be found on our 2022/23 further education teaching staff report page.
Through Jisc’s digital experience insights service, organisations can gain valuable data to inform strategic, operational and digital investment decisions, evidence year-on-year improvements and demonstrate return on investment. Organisations that take part have access to their own data to assess their unique situations as well as benchmarking data. Full information about the digital experience insights surveys is detailed on our information page.
Our 2022/23 digital experience insights survey for teaching staff in higher education looked at the numerous ways digital technology was used in teaching, how well staff were supported to use these tools, and the support they received to develop their digital skills. Teaching staff from 30 different organisations highlighted the ways digital technology enhanced their teaching. They also pinpointed several issues that hindered their teaching practice and key elements of their digital experience that need to be addressed by universities.
Our 2022/23 student digital experience insights survey showed that learning in higher education is often a blended experience. This year’s survey for teaching staff also showed that digital technologies are employed in a range of face to face and online contexts. Teaching staff engaged in a range of activities that made use of a range of tools, platforms or devices, in both teaching and administrative contexts. However, in all these contexts, teaching staff need to be supported by reliable infrastructure and devices, by responsive and relevant support mechanisms, and a culture that encourages staff to develop their skills to improve the effectiveness of digital teaching.
Universities still have a lot of work to do to improve the ways in which teaching staff are supported and recognised for their digital capabilities. It is important to listen to the voices of teaching staff. Our survey highlighted both their positive and negative experiences – in their own words – as well as their suggestions for universities to improve the support offered to them.
Digital technologies were used extensively in higher education teaching
Using digital platforms to deliver the taught elements of higher education courses remained common place. Most teaching staff either produced or uploaded content (88%), delivered a live online lecture (77%) or a recorded lecture (67%). All these percentages were increases from our 2021/22 survey. Around half used quizzes (50%) and carried out computer-marked tests or assessments (47%). A similar number felt that digital technologies enabled students to be assessed fairly (48%).
Teaching staff generally agreed that digital technologies were convenient (71%) and allowed them to teach in the ways they preferred (61%). However, there is some indication that teaching staff felt that digital technologies supported more didactic teaching activities rather than interactive ones. Only 29% agreed that they felt part of a community of staff and students when using digital technologies. Similarly, only about a third (36%) supported online collaboration in their teaching practice, and fewer (27%) took part in or moderated online text-based discussion.
Most teaching staff were positive about their online teaching environment
Staff accessed a range of systems, tools and platforms that supported their teaching. Most (81%) teaching staff have been provided with platforms that supported the delivery of online classes, and more teaching staff (61%) used online assessment or testing platforms than in last year’s survey. Nearly two-thirds (64%) considered their university’s online teaching environment to be above average (13% considered it to be below average).
Yet there are significant improvements to be made to the infrastructure and devices offered to teaching staff. This year we looked at the problems encountered with digital technologies both on and off campus. Key problems were with wifi connections on or off campus (49% experienced difficulties), not having a suitable device to use on campus (27%), and problems accessing the systems needed for teaching (38% either on or off campus). Teaching staff (36%) preferred that their universities invest in the future in upgrading platforms and systems over other options.
A preference for teaching on campus
There was a significant move back to on campus teaching. 67% of teaching staff mainly delivered classes on campus, compared to 30% in last year’s survey. About a quarter (26%) offered a mixture of online and on campus teaching, while only 7% taught mainly online. Preferences for teaching also shifted towards on campus teaching (57%). However, it is clear that teaching did not just happen on campus and at home. While 84% of teaching staff reported teaching at home and 95% taught on campus, 11% taught in public spaces.
Mixed levels of support for devices and platforms that aid teaching online
We investigated the support offered to teaching staff to use various digital tools, platforms and devices, as well as the support provided to develop their skills. Just over half (51%) of teaching staff felt the quality of the overall support given to them to teach effectively online was above average (18% rated this as below average). Although this is a slight improvement on 2021/22 (48%), there were particular areas of concern.
Our survey found that a quarter (25%) of teaching staff were not provided with a device as part of their teaching role. This was matched by 27% of teaching staff who reported that they had no suitable device to work with on campus. Additionally, although over a half (55%) of teaching staff felt they were supported to access platforms and services off campus, this was below pre-pandemic levels. Less than half (49%) felt they were supported to communicate effectively online.
Digital skills development
Overall support for digital skills development was not rated highly. Only 39% of staff received guidance about the digital skills needed for their course. In other areas, staff felt the support received was even less, including: receiving an assessment of digital skills and training needs (16%); being provided with time to explore new digital tools or approaches (16%); and, being offered formal recognition for their digital skills (8%). It emerged that most teaching staff were not offered training in a range of areas essential to effective digital teaching practice. Concerningly, only 29% were offered basic IT skills training, 18% were offered training on delivering effective online assessments, and 28% were offered training on producing accessible digital content.
Concerns about data
Support and awareness around data remains relatively low compared to other areas of digital skills and competencies. Only around a third (34%) of teaching staff agreed that they understood how their university collected and used student data (31% disagreed). About the same (33%) were comfortable with data collection practice and use. Less than half (45%) were offered training on keeping data secure, and only 9% were offered some form of training in data analysis.