Trust Crucial for Successful Technology Integration in Higher Ed

Universities may be contributing to faculty experiencing technology fatigue and burnout.

As the growing popularity of online and hybrid environments become more popular, and the often redundant number of digital tools increases, tech fatigue is on the rise. Faculty members are generally positive about using technology in their teaching. However, many are dissatisfied with how their institutions are implementing the technology. In addition, there are concerns about EdTech’s anticipated future impact on student instruction. These are the findings from a survey recently published by the College Innovation Network (CIN), a grant-funded initiative spearheaded by WGU Labs.      

The second annual CIN Faculty EdTech Survey (pdf), which provides critical insight including the need for staff and student involvement in the adoption of EdTech in higher education, included 491 faculty members from nine diverse colleges and universities across the United States.

The survey focused on three key research questions including how faculty perceive and interact with EdTech in their teaching practices, what individual and institutional barriers faculty are facing in their adoption and use of EdTech, and what opportunities for EdTech to better serve faculty’s needs in the classroom there are available.

According to WGU Labs’ College Innovation Network (CIN) Faculty EdTech Survey, the four key takeaways for institutions and EdTech vendors to improve the EdTech experience for both faculty and students are as follows:

  • 83 percent 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 percent believe that students have a high level of influence.
  • Faculty are weary of a tech-enabled future. More than 50 percent of faculty members believe they will have less autonomy over their course design and 49 percent say that faculty will spend less time interacting with students.
  • Nearly 80 percent 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 Dr. Omid Fotuhi, Director of Learning and Innovation at WGU Labs.

Headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, Rio Salado College, a founding CIN member, developed a Student Digital Experience (SDX) Committee using their college’s report data from last year’s Faculty Survey to implement change. The group’s cross-functional collaboration helped improve the student experience and also empowered a more agile approach to tech decision making. Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) also used their individual college’s report data to improve the faculty experience on campus.

“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,” Dr. Fotuhi said.

The full survey findings and actionable strategies to improve faculty experiences with EdTech can be found here.