HE ‘complacent’ about edtech, claims director

Edtech falling behind secondary education levels

The UK higher education sector is “complacent” when it comes to technology investment, says the director of a global edtech company.

Andrew Robinson, director of higher education at Cengage, spoke to Education Technology in anticipation of the release of the firm’s Student Voices report.

Robinson said the UK HE sector needs to focus on improving the depth and efficacy of simple tech such as self-quizzing and practice assessments.

He told ET: “We already have a world-class higher education system in the UK, but the question is, is it delivering the right outcomes for our students in terms of employability?”

He added: “Students are going to university with a very high expectation of digital resources enhancing their experience, and they’re often finding that they’re very disappointed when they get there.”

Robinson noted that while secondary education has adapted to integrating edtech well, higher education in the UK is not addressing that critical skills deficit. “Students have come from a background of Quizlet and HegartyMaths, and all of these tools that they use at secondary level and, frankly speaking, higher education has not made these changes.”

We haven’t invested in accelerating HE as fast as we should, and that we’re not getting the outcomes we’d like to.
–Andrew Robinson, Cengage

Stressing the importance of getting the basics right, he said: “Students are very utilitarian. They’re very tactical about what they want.”

He told ET: “We get a bit complacent about it. We think, quite rightly, that we already have a very advanced and world-class HE system, but that means we haven’t invested in accelerating it as fast as we should, and that we’re not getting the outcomes we’d like to.”

The report revealed that the most used digital resources by students in HE are test yourself and practice questions, which achieved a 5.8/7 score in importance. Contrastingly, more modern technology such as simulations received only a 4.1/7 score.

Adapting to students’ needs, and providing more help with independent learning could assist with lowering the 8% undergraduate dropout rate, the report revealed.

The report focused on undergraduate students across the UK, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and South Africa.

The full report from Cengage can be found at cengage.co.uk/student_voices

*update: this article was updated to correct a quotation on 18.01.19