Since 2015, Tyton Partners has tracked the state of higher education digital learning, courseware and digital adoption via Time for Class, the largest longitudinal study of faculty and administrators focused on digital learning strategy, tools, and practice.
Our 2020 release is designed for institutions and includes a series of short research briefs on targeted topics related to digital learning strategy, implementation of adaptive courseware, and inclusive access. Each brief refers to resources that can assist with implementation. Now more than ever, the use of high-quality digital learning strategies and tools is critical as we continue to navigate teaching and learning amidst a pandemic and work to ensure equity and access in student learning.
Among the issues we explore across these briefs include:
Institutions Report a Lingering Digital Learning Strategy-to-Execution Gap
- “High-performing” institutions provide guidance for how to close that gap – Institutions that are “high-performing” set clear, measurable, public objectives for digital learning at their institution, including digital learning as part of their strategic plan, creating budget and institutional policies that eliminate barriers to collaboration, and ensuring sufficient technology and professional development support.
- Professional development is a key strategy to close this gap – Professional development is key to supporting digital learning transformation, and faculty who teach in online or hybrid formats participate in higher rates. As of early 2020, only 18% of administrators reported offering professional development at scale, and despite the herculean efforts of institutions during the COVID-19 transition, the lack of scaled professional development persists.
Implementation Matters for Achieving the Potential of Adaptive Courseware
- Adaptive courseware is a digital instruction tool that provides a personalized learning experience for each student. It includes instructional content and assessment that is scoped and sequenced to support an entire course. Adaptive courseware, with the right implementation, can help provide personalized learning experiences for all students by automating the delivery of relevant learning material to students who have achieved mastery, and remediation to those who have not. Courseware can be particularly effective in high-enrollment general education courses to both enable active learning and help identify and support struggling students.
- Implementation approach to courseware matters – Our research show that quality implementation drives faculty satisfaction more than the product itself. Key steps need to be taken in the implementation of courseware to ensure that it is most effective for students and faculty. These include engaging in redesign, involving faculty in courseware product selection, and providing professional development support.
- Not all adaptive courseware is being used to its full potential – While most faculty who adopt courseware are using a product with adaptive capabilities or features, only 20% report they are using those adaptive features.
Inclusive Access is on the Rise, but Negotiating Agreements Requires Care
- Administrators and faculty plan to continue using inclusive access – Three quarters of faculty and administrators who are currently using inclusive access say they plan to continue their use of inclusive access, while only 7% of faculty and 13% of administrator users using say they are dissatisfied with inclusive access.
- Limitations on instructional materials choice is a concern – While about half of faculty and administrators are optimistic about the impact of IA on course material affordability and access, one in three say that they are concerned about impact on choice.
- Institutions should carefully design inclusive access agreements – IA agreements are complex and it is important that institutions have the expertise and support to design them in ways that maximize benefits and minimize negative impact.