digital learning

CAOs tell all on their top 4 IT priorities

Survey offers a glimpse at how chief academic officers view IT issues, resources.

A resounding majority of chief academic officers (CAOs) (86 percent) said they believe digital learning tools and resources make learning more efficient and effective for students, according to a recent survey.

In the same survey, Provosts, Pedagogy, and Digital Learning Survey, 92 percent of those CAOs said adaptive learning technology has great potential to improve learning outcomes for students. Nearly 90 percent said they would like their faculty to use adaptive learning technologies more in entry-level and gateway courses.

Despite this enthusiasm, less than one-third of surveyed CAOs said they believe their campus investment in data analysis and managerial analytics, as well as IT resources and support services, for students and faculty has been very effective.

Just 37 percent said their campus investment in IT to support online and on-campus instruction has been very effective.

(Next page: CAOs’ top IT priorities and concerns)

CAOs also revealed their top four IT priorities:
1. The instructional integration of information technology (79 percent said this is very important)
2. IT training and support for faculty (76 percent)
3. Leveraging IT investments and resources for student success initiatives (69 percent)
4. Online education programs (66 percent)

The survey also revealed that CAOs believe their institutions are informed by data and can identify appropriate outcomes–76 percent said their institutions do a good job of using data to aid and inform institutional planning and decision-making.

Eighty-one percent said their institution does a good job identifying and assessing student outcomes, although many survey participants “lament the current state of analytics and the data that drive student success efforts.”

Seventy-two percent of those surveyed said they expect open educational resources (OER) to be a major course of curricular content and digital learning in five years, though many faculty express concern over the quality of such resources.

CAO priorities appear to focus on instruction and support for faculty. Despite increasing discussions about “going digital” in higher education, only three-fifths of surveyed CAOs said their institution has a plan to leverage the use of digital technologies to improve student learning and campus instruction.

Two-fifths of participants said campus efforts to go more digital or all-digital are hampered by the fact that too many students do not own digital devices needed to access digital content and online course resources.

“Owning a digital device–a laptop or a tablet–really is essential for digital access,” said Kenneth C. Green, founding director of The Campus Computing Project, which conducted the survey for the Association of Chief Academic Officers. “Although well-intended, extended hours in campus computer labs do not adequately serve the needs or the schedules of full- and part-time students who have families, jobs, and other commitments beyond their college coursework.”

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Laura Ascione

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