Educational Technology at the University of Washington: Report of the 2005 Instructor and Student Surveys
The Executive Summary of the report is reproduced below.Read the Full 2005 Survey Report
As the role of educational technology continues to become more and more central, it is important to understand when, how, and why technology becomes a key feature in the educational landscape. To gain this perspective, six campus units joined forces: the Office of Learning Technologies, Computing & Communications, UW Libraries, Educational Outreach, the Student Technology Fee Committee, and the Office of Undergraduate Education. Headed by the Office of Learning Technologies, this collaborative team developed and distributed instructor and student surveys, building on work begun during a previous iteration of this study conducted in 2001 and 2002.
In the two surveys, instructor and student, we asked a series of questions about respondents' experiences with and perspectives on academic technologies. A large number of the questions were the same across the instructor and student surveys, allowing for a comparison of the two groups; a smaller number of questions carried over from the 2001 and 2002 surveys, allowing for a longitudinal comparison. We divided graduate students across the two instruments: those that held teaching assistantships completed the instructor survey and those that did not teach completed the student survey. In spring 2005, we sent the instructor survey to 4,390 individuals that had taught courses in spring 2004, autumn 2004, or winter 2005. At the same time, we sent the student survey to a random sampling of 3,500 students. The response rate was 34.4% for instructors and 28.2% for students.
We also conducted focus groups in late spring, with 40 instructors and 25 students participating in this portion of the study. We asked focus group attendees to describe their current use of educational technologies, the supports and barriers to that use, and their goals for the future. The focus groups allowed the research team to gain detailed knowledge about participants' experiences with and perspectives on educational technology.
In this report, we present key findings that emerged from our analysis of this data. The focus of our analysis was a comparison of expertise with technology, use of technology, and beliefs about technology across different campus populations. We list our primary conclusions and provide recommendations based on those conclusions below. The order of these lists follows the chronology of our discussion in the report.
- Differences in gender and age influence technological expertise ratings and technology use patterns; most significantly, men rate their expertise with and use of technology higher than women do.
- Faculty members use a higher number of established technologies for academic purposes than undergraduates do; undergraduates use a higher number of emerging technologies for academic purposes than faculty do.
- Support for general-access technology facilities and services is high among both instructors and students.
- Undergraduate students want more course materials available online.
- Faculty members want more opportunities to use technology to support their instruction. In particular, they want better access to technology in classrooms.
- The addition of wireless access in classrooms is likely to have a substantial impact on how many instructors and students bring laptop computers to class.
- Interest in Web-based tools, such as electronic portfolios and online discussion boards, is high.
- Teaching assistants and graduate students that do not teach not only differ from each other in their experiences with and perspectives on educational technology, but they also differ from faculty members and undergraduate students -- making the division of graduate students across the two survey instruments problematic.
- Teaching assistants exhibit less interest in academic technologies than faculty members, undergraduate students, or other graduate students do.
- Further investigate how gender and age influence technology use and expertise.
- Work with undergraduate students to identify ways that emerging technologies can be used for academic purposes.
- Continue to support general-access technology facilities and services.
- Identify and remove obstacles to putting course materials and other resources online.
- Commit to improving technology in classrooms. Engage in campus discussions about wireless in classrooms, including models of effective use.
- Provide more opportunities for students and instructors to learn about and use Web-based tools.
- Revise the design of future studies to include a separate survey for graduate students, rather than dividing them between the instructor and student surveys.
- Provide more opportunities for teaching assistants to use technology to support their instruction.
In the complete report we provide a detailed explanation of the conclusions and ecommendations outlined above. As you read through its pages, you will gain awareness of the multifaceted role that technology plays in the academic lives of instructors and students at the University of Washington. The report also exposes several areas where current technological resources do not keep pace with the goals and ambitions expressed by instructors and students. In addition to increasing our knowledge of current technology use and technological needs across the University, the study data point towards the future -- providing information that will allow the collaborating partners and the University as a whole to make informed decisions about the future of educational technology at the University of Washington.