Staff digital insights surveys

Earlier this year we ran two RAU staff digital insights surveys – one for academic staff and one for professional service staff. The surveys were managed by Jisc and are part of an annual survey programme. They complement the student digital survey that we ran last year. The academic staff survey asks teaching staff across higher (HE) and further education (FE) about their experiences of digital in their institution and in their teaching practice. This year the Professional Services staff survey ran as a pilot and the RAU was part of the pilot group. The results from the surveys are benchmarked and compared with other institutions in the sector.

Jisc survey

Below are some of our key findings.

Response rates

Academic staff Professional services
Response number 24 67
Percentage of staff ~ 50% ~ 25%
Time at RAU Even split between ‘4 years or more’ and ‘less than 4 years’ Even split between ‘4 years or more’ and ‘less than 4 years’
Department From all four schools
2 from Capel
Operations (43%) Student services (31%) Commercial and Business Development (21%) & others

Key metrics: Academic staff

  • 21% rate the quality of their digital provision (software, hardware, learning environment) as good or above
  • 92% can access reliable Wi-Fi whenever they need it
  • 50% agree it is easy to design & organise their course materials in the VLE (Gateway)
  • 54% rate the support they get to develop their digital role as good or above
  • 21% agree software for teaching is industry standard and up-to-date
  • 8% agree they are informed about ensuring students behave safely online

Key metrics: Professional services staff

  • 58% rate the quality of their digital provision (software, hardware, learning environment) as good or above
  • 87% can access reliable Wi-Fi whenever they need it
  • 27% agree that our online systems support working as a team
  • 34% rate the support they get to develop their digital role as good or above
  • 43% agree systems are up to date
  • 72% agree systems are reliable

prof

It appears that academics are more unhappy about the quality of the digital provision but happier about the support they receive to develop digital aspects of their jobs. While for professional services it is the other way round. This may be to do with the lack of support for professional services staff training and the requirement for fit for purpose pedagogic tools

Benchmark comparisons: Academic staff

Question Our data UK data
Quality of digital provision 21% 58%
Reliable Wi-Fi 92% 85%
Support to develop digital role 54% 36%
Software for teaching is industry standard and up-to-date 21% 35%
Easy to design & organise course materials in VLE 55% 48%
Are informed about ensuring students behave safely online 8% 18%

The areas in red are below the sector and the areas in green are above.

Benchmark comparisons: Professional services staff

Question Our data UK data
Quality of digital provision 58% 68%
Reliable Wi-Fi 87% 85%
Support to develop digital role 35% 56%
Systems are reliable 72% 67%
Systems are up to date 43% 46%
Our online systems support working as a team 27% 46%

The areas in red are below the sector and the areas in green are above.

As you can see there is still lots to be done!

What can we do to help? Academic staff

  • Increased recognition by senior management of the importance of supporting innovative and good quality teaching (both digital and non-digital)
  • Better celebration of good practice
  • Support for a culture where experimentation is accepted and time/resource is allocated to it
  • More CPD in digital skills
  • Better digital teaching rooms
  • Further investment in academic and industry-standard digital tools
  • Improvements to Turnitin and integration with Quercus

What can we do to help? Professional services staff

  • Better support for flexible and remote working
  • More accessible training – from a more formal training structure to informal lunchtime drop-in training, at all levels (beginners to expert), and for new staff
  • More guidance, support and videos
  • Improve labs set up
  • Provide a list of systems with an outline of what they do
  • Better equipment – headsets for making calls, AV equipment, laptops for all

The recently developed IT and Digital strategy and action plan addresses the vast majority of these areas including:

  1. Work to establish a cross-functional group to produce an action plan for developing our student and staff digital capabilities,
  2. Help to define a set of activities and processes that directly encourage and support staff digital capability e.g: recruitment requirements, appraisals, promotions  etc.

Huge thanks to everyone who participated in either of the surveys!

These results were presented to the RAU senior managers by Alun Dawes (Head of IT) on the 10th September. Going forward we hope to run the staff surveys and the student survey on alternate years. If you have any comments on the survey results please do get in touch with IT Services.

Trip report: Edtech Expo

Yesterday I attended the EdTech Expo event at Old Trafford Stadium. A great venue and a surprisingly useful conference. It was clearly targeted at those working in ed tech at schools, rather than in FE or HE, but there was some useful insights and inspirational talks.

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The opening panel was on ‘the future of digital learning’ and featured Dave Smith (Havering education services), Emma Owen-Davies (fellow, Chartered College), Abdul Chohan (CEO of Essa M.A.T. and co-founder of the Olive tree school, Bolton) and Steve Wheeler (Learning Innovations Consultant, formerly Plymouth Institute of Education). It covered broad topics including how we develop the skills in our students that businesses needs, how we build our staff digital capability and how schools can use digital technologies to retain their staff (they are leaving in droves unfortunately).

Steve Wheeler’s solo presentation on ‘digital literacies and capabilities: Learning in the 21st century’ followed. He offered some interesting insights and considerations: a blasting of the digital natives and digital immigrants idea – let’s think about digital residents (habitual users) and digital visitors (casual users) instead. Tales of his 80 year old father’s online life (some of his post have 1000+  likes!) and the slightly scary observation that this year every teacher was born in last century, every child born in this century. Steve ended by looking at the EU digital competence framework 2.0 highlighting our need for new skills like transliteracy, identity management and the 4 Cs: Connection, content, complexity, connotation.

Abdul Choan: “These are six of the most expensive words in education”

By far the most inspiring talk of the day was by Abdul Chohan. Growing up just outside Manchester Addul made a commitment to improving the area and after time spent working as a Chemistry teacher co-founded the Olive school in central Bolton. The school intake is predominantly from deprived areas but a commitment to the growth mindset and major tech project where all children have been provided with originally ipods and now ipads has led some incredible results. Abdul offered many words of wisdom but the ones that resonated with me were:

  • If you can master the art of changing a person’s belief, then you can change their actions.
  • Simple and reliable are the most important factors when it comes to digital technology – he illustrated this with a great story about the laptop trolley at his school. When staff don’t believe something will work then they just won’t use it.
  • If something works then you can get rid of something else and save money. Educators are terrible at moving on.

Abdul touched on many areas of pedagogy that warrant further investigation: Webb’s depth of knowledge, Dale’s cone of experience, Schlech’sty Levels, Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development, Puentedura’s SAMR and shared some great case studies – too many to list here, see his Twitter feed for more details.

I enjoyed the interactive session on ‘marginal gains for big wins’ from Patrick McGrath from Texthelp. It was delivered using Pollev.com. Patrick’s suggestion that we move away from the idea of transformation (whoops…it’s the name of this blog!) and instead focus on these smaller, quick wins. He covered a number of useful tools including Kahoot, Padlet and of course Read&Write – Texthelp’s main accessibility tool. We have Read&Write at the RAU and it is definitely a tool we want to promote more to all our students as a great productivity tool. Patrick’s suggestion was that students use it to listen back to their reports allowing themselves to take a more critical look at what they’ve written.

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In the afternoon there was a session on ‘The future of Education: Artificial Intelligence’ delivered by Charles Wood from CENTURY tech. CENTURY tech uses artificial intelligence and big data to improve learning outcomes and reduce teacher workload. His overview of AI covered:

  1. Reasoning e.g. chess
  2. Knowledge representation e.g. identifying brain scans
  3. Planning (navigation) e.g. self driving-cars
  4. Natural language processing e.g. Siri
  5. Perception e.g. safe self-driving cars

[If you want an accessible and quick introduction to AI, or machine learning, listen to the  Miranda Mowbray interview onthe recent Jisc Podcast on ‘how AI and big data will transform research’ – about half way through] While CENTURY tech’s tool appears more appropriate for schools than HE (the learning activities it offers are predominantly multiple choice questions based on the national curriculum and there is currently no free text analysis opportunities) they are beginning to work with universities who have taken the front end and are developing their own content.

The most sobering talk of the day was by Andy Wood, online safety consultant, South West Grid for Learning. While the Internet is a tremendous resource it is a potential area of danger for young people. Andy made a compelling eSafety case for why we need to ensure children and young adults are digitally literate and taught to be resilient. His recommended model is that we fully understand the landscape (bullying, porn, so that we can mitigate risk. Some of the key organisations working in this space are Internet Watch Foundation, Childnet International, SWGFL and Professionals Online Safety Helpline.

While Ed Tech Expo wasn’t what I thought it was going to be it was actually refreshing to spend some time looking at digital through the eye’s of a teacher. And in true good conference style I’m itching to get back to my desk to look up the links I’ve jotted down.

Useful links

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Jisc Digital capability discovery tool

Improving our staff and student digital capability is a key aim of our digital strategy. We are investigating a number of ways in which we can do this is in a strategic way. With this in mind we are participating in the Jisc digital capability discovery tool pilot.

The digital discovery tool supports individual staff and students – in universities, colleges and training providers – to reflect on their digital capabilities. It presents a series of reflective questions that relate to the different elements of capability. The tool is based on the Jisc digital capabilities framework.

Jisc digital capability model

Those who use the tool are presented with a series of ‘discovery questions’ looking at digital areas including: creativity, teaching, innovation, information literacy, wellbeing, productivity and collaboration. The questions aim to assess users’ confidence and experience with a host of real-world digital practices. Just by answering the questions, users are made aware of digital practices they already have and new ones they might try.

Jisc digital discovery tool

The initial log in screen

Users can then download a report providing them with a score in each area and guidance on how to improve.

My score is shown below in a graph.

mG-dig-cap

Marieke Guy’s report graph

As Jisc explains:

Organisationally, the digital discovery tool can be used to raise awareness of the range and importance of digital capabilities, and to encourage personal development. Conversations about digital capability can be taken forward with a common reference point and some shared terms. Digital capabilities become more familiar and less threatening.

The Digital discovery tool is not meant to monitor individuals, but staff could choose to bring their results into appraisal settings, or professional development reviews. While personal findings remain anonymous, aggregated data views are available to organisational users of the service. These can be used to help understand the organisation’s strengths, weaknesses, and priorities for development.”

Anonymised data from the tool can be extracted and used to help shape training strategies.

We are currently using the tool only within the IT services team but may roll it out further later in the year. The main thing is for us to have a plan for how we can support staff to improve their digital capability once they have explored and assessed it using the tool.