New reports on the digital learning environment

Two new reports have been published recently by organisations that are involved in our consultation process. The Heads of eLearning Forum has published findings on policies, provision and support of tablet technologies. Among their findings – from a survey of 48 institutions – are:

  • around 22% have a BYOD policy for staff
  • slightly fewer – around 18% – have a BYOD policy for students
  • <10% have a ‘switch-it-on’ (appropriate use of tablets/mobile devices in class) policy for students
  • <10% have an Institutional tablet loan scheme for students, though a considerably higher number host departmental or faculty schemes

These rather low numbers suggest that institutions could be more strategic in their approach to the digital environment. In our phase 1 study, institutions were concerned about the de facto rise of ‘bring your own’ (device, service, skill set). They wanted to understand more about the opportunities and risks (e.g. widening inequalities), and to see how other institutions were framing policy and practice in this area (e.g. restructuring spend on ICT infrastructure and support).

A report from AUDE on learning spaces – while it focuses on estates spending generally – also contains some clues as to how digital practices may be influencing the use of space in universities. Interesting findings are:

  • teaching income generated by teaching space has increased faster than research income generated by research space (and teaching space generates considerably more revenue per square metre). This suggests that a focus on better use of teaching space – and on the social spaces in which students learn – could be beneficial to universities.
  • capital may be utilised for space refurbishment rather than new build in coming years. This finding holds out the hope that existing spaces could be made more suitable for contemporary modes of learning and teaching, with the emphasis on social learning with digital access, as well as new facilities coming into play.
  • There is evidence that teaching space is already being better managed, which the report puts down in part to greater flexibility of provision.

Our forthcoming consultations with AUDE, SCHOMS and UCISA in London (May 21st) and with the Heads of eLearning Forum in Leeds (May 22nd) will help us to understand what these findings mean to the student experience, and how changing student needs are being accommodated by professionals working in HE. We are also looking forward to early highlights of the UCISA 2014 Technology Enhanced Learning survey.

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