Further analysis of the digital skills data

In this post, we continue to look at the results of the digital skills self assessment that has now been completed by 350 respondents.

There are two sections in this post: wider digital skills and views on TEL.  The initial analysis of the TEL Toolkit appeared in last week’s blog post.

Wider digital skills

This section looks at the second part of the questionnaire which asked questions about wider digital skills beyond the TEL Toolkit.  The questions were based on the Jisc digital competence framework which means they were based on informed research of the key elements of digital skill.

This table list the areas in the questionnaire and identifies the level of confidence most frequently reported, i.e. the modal response.  The range of possible responses was from: unaware – aware – practices – competent – proficient – expert.

Create new content eg Word/Excel/PowerPoint documents – proficient
Create PDFs – proficient
Reuse existing content – proficient
Choose the appropriate media – proficient
Understand copyright – proficient
Understand intellectual property rights – proficient
Understand accessibility for ALS students – competent
Use digital services such as the ITSD (Service Now aka SNOW), Room Bookings etc – practiced
Participate in digital networks for learning and research eg JISC – aware
Use open education resources (OERs) – unaware
Manage your online identity – proficient
Access relevant academic sites eg Academia.edu, ResearchGate, LinkedIn etc – proficient
Understand digital privacy and accessibility – proficient
Use PCs – proficient
Use Macs – aware
Use digital devices such as tablets and smartphones – proficient
Use Microsoft Word – proficient
Use Microsoft Excel – proficient
Use Microsoft PowerPoint – proficient
Use Microsoft Outlook – proficient
Different browsers eg Firefox and Chrome – proficient
Manipulate and compress images – proficient/expert
Manipulate groups of files eg zip and unzip – proficient
Screen capture eg snipping tool – proficient
Study and learn effectively in a technology-rich environment – proficient
Know who to contact for help and support – proficient
Participate in academic and research practices that depend on digital systems –
Find information – proficient
Manage information – proficient
Share information – proficient

The most dominant answer to the majority of these questions was ‘proficient’.  For some of the questions, for example reusing existing content, 259 of the 339 respondents rated their confidence at proficient or expert which demonstrated high levels of confidence across all participants.  For other questions, for example, understanding digital privacy and using BU’s digital services such as Service Now, the range of responses was more uniform across the available options which starts to identify the areas where CEL can provide information and support for staff.  Lastly, a couple of questions where most staff indicated low levels of confidence, for example participating in digital networks for learning and research and using open education resources will feature in future blog posts as we provide information on these areas so that staff can assess their usefulness.

Comparing this second part of the questionnaire against the questions on the TEL Toolkit, it is clear that staff generally have higher levels of confidence in general digital skills than exist for the TEL Toolkit.  This is to be expected given that the newness of the TEL Toolkit and confirms the validity of CEL’s current focus on the Toolkit.

General views of TEL

The last 5 questions asked about more general questions about respondents attitudes to technology.

1.  I am enthusiastic about using technology?

The majority of respondents, 81%, either agreed or strongly agreed with this statement.

2.  I have experienced negative outcomes from using technology in the past?

The most frequent response to this question was ‘agree’ which underscores how technology is not perfect.   There is a significant but moderate correlation (r=0.328, p<0.000) between those who experienced a negative outcome and those who are cautious about the use of technology (the next question).  This demonstrates the importance of re-building confidence after a negative outcome while acknowledging that confidence, once diminished, takes time to rebuild.

3.  I am cautious about trying out new technology?

While respondents disagreed with this statement, albeit by a narrow margin of 50.9%, nearly a quarter of respondents agreed with the statement.  Building confident in technology is definitely an area in which CEL can help and there are additional avenues that staff can investigate including the training offered by IT Skills, Organisational Development and Marketing and Communications.

4.  I trust the technology at BU?

The answer most frequently given to this question was ’neutral’ with the responses being skewed towards agreement with the statement.  The answers may be affected by recent experiences caused by the implementation of new and changed systems for the new academic year and the tendency for respondents to be affected by the recency affect whereby views are disproportionately affected by recent events, particularly if they are negative.  This is the first time this question has been asked of staff so it will be interesting to see how the answers change over time.

5.  My students know more than I do about technology?

Most people neither agreed nor disagreed with this question but there was a slight dominance for answers on the agree end of the scale suggesting that, roughly, staff do feel their students know more than they do.  We do not know from the data if there is any difference between different student years as there is no link to programmes or modules.  We do know from research at a London University that the digital skills of first year students, while being self-reported as good overall, were found to be related more to tools for communications than a wider digital array.  There was a weak positive correlation (r=0.193, P<0.000) between the respondents age group and agreement to this question.  This is another question that will be interesting to watch over time to see if the balance changes as staff develop more digital skills and student digital awareness also fluxes.

In future posts, the data will be analysed in more depth to see what insights it offers.

Thank you to everyone who has completed the survey.  The data is helping us to understand the digital landscape at BU and to make informed decision on how we can supports staff in their work.

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