Half of UK university students think sector must ‘up its game’ in teaching of digital skills

In Jisc’s new Student Digital Experience Insights survey, only 51% of respondents agreed that they received sufficient guidance on the digital skills needed to thrive in the real world

Jisc’s new Student Digital Experience Insights survey has revealed that almost half (49%) of UK university students feel the sector could do more to embed crucial digital skills.

Analysing responses from more than 20,000 students in higher education, Jisc also found that almost a quarter (23%) were unable to provide positive feedback on the quality of digital teaching experienced throughout the lockdown period. Only 60% of respondents rated the quality of support they received in digital skills development as ‘good’, ‘excellent’ or ‘best imaginable’.

Only a third (34%) of students agreed that their organisation provided adequate access to digital skills, while a fifth (21%) did not discuss their digital skills either during induction, during one-to-one tutor sessions, in lectures, in classes or with other students generally.

Forty-four percent of students claimed they never collaborate online with their peers, while only one in 10 (11%) did not agree that they have 24/7 access to digital content for their course.

On the subject of digital skills in UK higher education, one student said: “I don’t hear my instructor speak about things like keeping my personal information safe online, or my health and wellbeing as a technology user, ever.”

In the foreword of the survey – published today, on 14 September –  Sir Michael Barber, chair of the Office for Students (OfS), commented: “The academic year ahead will be unlike any that has gone before. Learning is likely to take place both on-site and remotely. As the higher education sector continues to adapt, it is crucial that university leaders understand how students are using technology, and what help they need with their digital skills.

“I encourage the HE sector to take advantage of the expert advice and support provide by Jisc to bring a digital perspective to issues such as curriculum and assessment redesign and wellbeing,” added Barber. ” The time is now for universities to work in collaboration with students to ensure they are providing an education experience in which technology is integrated, offering opportunities for all learners to develop the skills they need to flourish in the fast-changing digital world.”

Sarah Knight, head of data and digital capability, concludes: “Universities must do what they can to ensure all students have an equitable experience, whether they’re learning face-to-face, remotely, or through a blended approach. COVID-19 has highlighted the urgent need to address digital poverty. Helping students develop a preparedness for online teaching and learning will support their education and increase their confidence in the digital workplace.”

In other news: A quarter of British adults wish they had learnt coding at school


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