The College Innovation Network (CIN), a grant-funded initiative spearheaded by WGU Labs, this month published the results of its 2023 CIN Faculty EdTech Survey. The second annual survey provides new insights – including the need for staff and student involvement in adopting educational technology (EdTech) in higher education learning – and shares the importance of evidence-based examples and regular audits for effective implementation.
The survey, which included 491 faculty members from nine diverse colleges and universities across the country, found that while faculty members are generally positive about using technology in their teaching, many are dissatisfied with how technology is being implemented in their institutions. There are also concerns about EdTech’s anticipated future impact on student instruction.
The CIN Faculty EdTech Survey identified four key takeaways for institutions and EdTech vendors to improve the EdTech experience for both faculty and students:
- 83% of faculty respondents see value in Edtech for their teaching and learning, but almost one-third do not trust that available products are effective.
- Faculty perceive that college administrators – or those furthest away from the classroom – have the greatest influence on EdTech decisions. Only 22% believe that students have a high level of influence.
- Faculty are weary of a tech-enabled future. More than 50% of faculty members believe they will have less autonomy over their course design and 49% say that faculty will spend less time interacting with students.
- Nearly 80% of respondents feel like they are “always on the job because of technology,” leading to technology fatigue, burnout and lower job satisfaction.
“Given the rapid acceleration of EdTech in higher education since 2020, it is important for institutions to understand the impact on key users, including faculty, students, and administrators,” said Omid Fotuhi, Director of Learning and Innovation at WGU Labs. “Successful implementation depends on how faculty perceive, understand, and trust the use of technology to improve the student experience. We’ve identified actionable strategies from this year’s CIN Faculty EdTech Survey, which we believe will foster better technology integration in higher education to help realize the many possibilities of EdTech.”
As EdTech becomes increasingly prevalent in higher education, with proponents arguing that it increases college access, makes courses more engaging, and personalizes the learning experience, it is vital to address faculty pain points. Burnout and fatigue affect a significant portion of educators, with 44% of respondents reporting feeling burned out and 43% feeling emotionally exhausted due to their work. Technology fatigue emerged as a strong predictor of burnout, job dissatisfaction, and the likelihood of considering job changes within three years. To mitigate these issues, it is essential to strategically select technologies, redefine instructional models, and address technology-related stressors to promote faculty well-being.
The resource: IBM Global Skills and Education Study
Job seekers, students, and career changers around the world want to pursue roles related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) across different industries, but say they are not familiar with career options. At the same time, online training and digital credentials are emerging as a recognized pathway to opportunity as respondents plan to seek new jobs in the year ahead.
These were some of the global findings from a new study that IBM unveiled earlier this year. The study, administered by Morning Consult and commissioned by IBM, is based on more than 14,000 interviews of students, people seeking new jobs, and people seeking to change careers, located across 13 countries. Respondents also cited concerns that career options may not be available to them. These findings contrast with market data that employers are investing in the reskilling of their current workforce to keep pace with rapid advances in technology and stay relevant in the modern, digital economy.
“Technology training can have a transformational effect on a person’s life,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, IBM Chief Impact Officer. “There are many misconceptions about what’s needed to pursue a rewarding and lucrative career in today’s rapidly advancing workplace. This is why we must raise awareness of the breadth of science and technology roles that exist across industries. Together with our IBM SkillsBuild partners, we’re highlighting the many pathways that exist for underrepresented communities to pursue futures in tech.”
To help tackle these misconceptions and bring STEM education closer to historically underrepresented communities in the field, IBM announced 45 new educational partners around the world. These IBM SkillsBuild collaborations across social service, economic development, and vocational organizations, as well as government agencies, and universities, will make free online learning widely available, with clear pathways to employment. Many of these organizations focus on specific communities that are underrepresented in technology and will help skill women, including mothers returning to the workforce, ethnic minorities, low-income individuals, and refugees.
The IBM / Morning Consult study revealed perceptions from interviewed students, career changers, and job seekers who are interested in a role in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM):
Misconceptions around STEM training: it’s too expensive, learners don’t know where to start, and don’t know enough about digital credentials.
- 61% of respondents think they are not qualified to work in a STEM job because they don’t have the right academic degrees
- 40% of students say the greatest barrier to professional or technical skill development is that they don’t know where to start
- 60% of respondents worry that digital credentials may be costly to obtain
- Being able to continue to work while earning a credential is particularly important to career changers
Learners and workers around the world are planning to make a change, with about 60% of respondents looking for a new job in the next 12 months.
- 61% of students and career changers are actively looking for a new job now or plan to within the next year
- More than 80% of all respondents have plans to build their skills in the next two years
- At least 90% are confident they can develop skills or learn something new from an online program
Awareness of options around different STEM roles across industries is low, and many are concerned these careers won’t pay enough.
- 50% of respondents are interested in pursuing a STEM-related job
- 64% of career changers are not familiar with STEM jobs
- Many respondents are unsure of which careers are considered to be a STEM job
- 62% of respondents share concerns that they won’t be able to find a STEM job that pays enough to support themselves or their family
Respondents are optimistic that roles in STEM fields across sectors will increase in the future, and that digital credentials are a good way to supplement traditional education and increase career opportunities.
- 66% of all respondents think that STEM jobs across industries will increase over the next decade
- 86% of those respondents who have earned a digital credential agree that it helped them achieve career goals
- 75% of all respondents agree that digital credentials are a good way to supplement traditional education
- Increased career opportunities and qualifications were the top reasons why respondents across the globe said they wanted to earn digital credentials
Employer demand for micro credentials is on the rise, according to a study released earlier this year by UPCEA, the association for college and university leaders in online and professional continuing education, and Collegis Education. The report, “The Effect of Employer Understanding and Engagement on Non-Degree Credentials,” includes the viewpoints of leaders from 500 organizations on their perceptions of the value of non-degree and alternative credentials.
Ninety-five percent of those surveyed said they saw benefits from microcredentials, particularly because they show an employee’s willingness to develop their skills (76 percent); demonstrate initiative (63 percent) and are an easy way to communicate employee competencies and skills (60 percent). Organizational leaders were particularly interested in stackable credentials leading to a degree with 80 percent saying that increased their appeal.
“UPCEA’s mission is to support colleges and universities as they evolve their programs to meet the changing needs of employers and adult students. Microcredentials can play a critical role in the new economy. However, similar to how online degrees were perceived two decades ago, some are critical about the quality of non-degree programs, despite a lack of evidence to support a systematic problem,” said Jim Fong, Chief Research Officer, UPCEA. “The findings from the Collegis/UPCEA research show that organizational leaders value microcredentials and non-degree programming but are often unaware of them. Those that are aware agree that quality can be addressed with greater collaboration between employers and higher education.”
Although many employers recognize the value of alternative credentials in today’s workforce, a pervasive issue lies in their standardization and how to properly assess the validity and applicability of courses and certifications. Although 20 percent of survey respondents had little or no concern that non-degree or alternative credentials will have an adverse effect on the workforce, 17 percent were concerned about wrong/not relevant credentials/lack critical skills/training, 12 percent cited quality of education/validating credentials, and 11 percent specified a lack of educational/professional experience.
When choosing a college or university to collaborate with to develop a microcredential program, organizational leaders said they are incentivized by proof of program effectiveness (65 percent) and more than 50 percent want to play a role in the program’s development. While the report reveals a significant microcredential market opportunity for higher ed, only 44 percent of organizations reported having been approached by a college or university about a potential program.
“At Collegis, we have helped many colleges and universities develop successful microcredential programs for the last decade. Most recently with Saint Louis University’s Cannabis Science and Operations microcredential program where our partner identified an emerging industry and the opportunity to develop a program to support an expanding field’s workforce,” said Tracy A. Chapman, Ph.D., Chief Academic Officer at Collegis. “We worked with UPCEA on this study because we wanted broader insights into how the business world perceived microcredentials and if there are untapped opportunities for higher ed to leverage these types of programs to create a steady stream of enrollments and new revenue streams. The answer is, unequivocally, yes.”
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