Headline results from the 2010 Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) survey were presented by members of the Academic Support Group of UCISA’s Support Services Group at the recent ALT conference in Nottingham and at the UCISA User Support conference at St Anne’s College Oxford in July. The presentations reflected on key findings from the main report, which will be published later this year.
About the survey
The survey represents the fifth of its kind, with responses from 91 higher education institutions on TEL support provision and adoption trends. Data collection took place in January and February of this year, with follow-up interviews conducted with a sample of institutional representatives over the summer to help provide illustrative case studies to accompany the main report.
The 2010 survey retained the same definition of TEL as in 2008, focusing on any online facility or system that directly supports learning and teaching. However, an attempt was made to update the questions and response options employed in the 2010 survey to capture new realities in TEL support and provision.
Strategy and encouraging the use of TEL
The findings reveal that "enhancing the quality of learning and teaching activities" remains the primary driver for using TEL with the "availability of TEL support staff" representing the highest ranked factor in encouraging TEL development within an institution. "Teaching & Learning" and "Library & Learning Resources" are the leading internal strategies influencing institutional TEL development, whereas dedicated e-learning strategies appear to have declined in influence since 2008. National Funding Councils and JISC strategies remain the leading external strategies informing institutional thinking on TEL developments.
Commercial VLE systems such as Blackboard (Classic, Angel, CE/Vista and Learn) represent the most widely used institutional platforms as enterprise-wide solutions, maintaining the trend reported in the 2008 survey report. Of the open source systems in use, only Moodle has increased in take-up as an institutional platform. Indeed Moodle remains the most commonly used VLE platform overall. Adoption of other open source platforms is negligible across the sector.
Centrally supported use of plagiarism detection, e-submission and e-assessment tools is now well established across the sector. Wiki, blog, e-portfolio and podcasting tools have also increased in take-up since the 2008 survey. Students’ use of non-centrally supported TEL tools is also on the rise. This is particularly true for social networking and blog tools, which are reported to be widely used by students studying at Pre-92 and Post-92 institutions.
However, the breakdown of how TEL tools are used to support learning appears to have changed very little from 2008. The use of tools to supplement other forms of learning is still the primary approach, with web dependent usage gaining little ground since the last survey. Fully online course delivery remains a very small component of TEL usage across the sector.
Web 2.0, mobile computing, e-assessment and support for multimedia and lecture capture are identified as the leading new demands on institutional support. Staff development, resourcing (time and money), technical infrastructure and specialist support staff reflect the key challenges in meeting these new demands, with staff development, strategies/policies and support staff seen as the primary remedies – echoing similar responses to the 2008 Survey.
Support and outsourcing
There has been an increase in the average number of units which support TEL across an institution, up from 2-3 units in 2008 to 3-4 units in 2010. This can be explained by an increase in local devolved support units, much of this in conjunction with central units.
Overall there has been a reduction in the mean number of staff supporting TEL and the location of support staff has changed. In particular we have seen a decrease in the mean number of staff in IT Support units and Educational Development Units, and an increase in the mean number of staff located in Learning Technology Support units.
Outsourced provision and support for TEL services is very limited across the sector. It has only really been considered for the provision of student email services and to a lesser degree support for VLEs.
Staff development for support staff
The top three training and development activities promoted to support staff are internal staff development, national conferences/seminars and the ALT events. These activities have seen a slight increase from the 2008 results. There has been a significant decrease in other activities such as attendance at external training courses and international conferences.
Through the case studies we identified that TEL is now typically included in Postgraduate Certificate courses and some institutions are now offering Masters and PhD programmes in TEL. Support staff are encouraged to study for the Postgraduate Certificate and other accredited schemes such as CMALT.
The full report on the survey results for 2010 will soon become available, and this will be posted to the Surveys page of the UCISA website, where you can also view previous reports for the 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2008 surveys.
In closing, the Academic Support Group would like to thank all institutions which completed the 2010 Survey and that have continued to support this initiative over the years. We would also like to thank the JISC for their sponsorship of the survey work. We look forward to publishing the full report and sharing the results with you in due course.
If you would like to find out more about the UCISA Academic Support Group or would be interested in joining the group and possibly being involved in any future surveys, please see the Academic Support Group website.
Extracts taken from an article originally published in UCISA Update September 2010. Reproduced with permission from UCISA.
Education Research and Evaluation Advisor
University of Exeter
University of Manchester
Academic Manager, Centre for Active Learning
University of Gloucestershire
E-Learning Services Manager
Imperial College London
E-Learning Development Team Manager
University of York
Head of Technology Enhanced Learning
University of Salford