Press release – Technology enhanced learning trends emerge in UCISA report

The ninth UCISA Survey of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) for higher education offers a longitudinal perspective of TEL developments over a 17-year period within UK institutions. The Report focuses on the current provision within universities and other higher education providers, and the emerging and planned patterns of learning technology usage across the UK HE sector.
Dr Richard Walker, Head of the Programme Design and Learning Technology Team at the University of York and one of the authors of the Report said that, “The agenda for this year’s Survey addressed developments in areas of learning technology service provision related to the student learning experience. This included questions on the adoption of student-centred TEL services such as lecture capture, as well on the support that institutions are putting in place to encourage the use of students’ devices on campus in teaching, learning and assessment activities. We also maintained a
focus on the review of TEL systems, whilst also tracking developments in the delivery of flexible learning and technology that underpins and supports the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Other areas of interest touched on emerging developments such as the establishment of learning analytics services and the growth of fully online delivery across the sector”.
The Survey findings reveal that higher education providers possess a core set of TEL services to support teaching, learning and assessment activities: these include the virtual learning environment (VLE), text matching tools, provision for the electronic management of assignments, reading list software and lecture capture provision.
There has been increasing adoption of external hosting services for centrally supported software. Over half of responding institutions have chosen an external hosting model for their VLE service, and just under half have done so for their lecture capture provision. Cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) provision is the most common way of supporting digital repositories and media streaming services.
Despite the investment in TEL services, we are not seeing major changes in the way that technology is being used to support learning, teaching and assessment activities. Blended learning delivery focusing on the provision of lecture notes and supplementary resources to students still represents the most commonly supported activity, with active learning, open learning and fully online course delivery modes showing little change from 2016.
Institutions are exploring ways of expanding their fully online provision through the creation of dedicated distance learning units and collaboration arrangements with external/commercial partners. New modes of course delivery is identified as one of the top three challenges for the future. The other priority areas are electronic management of assignments (EMA) and learning analytics.
There is very limited evidence of evaluation on the impact of TEL on the student learning experience. Where it is taking place, it tends to focus on student satisfaction as part of a general review of TEL services. The evaluation of staff pedagogic practices is at its lowest level since 2012 and has most commonly focused on a general review of TEL services, determining the take-up and usage of TEL tools across an institution.
Lack of academic staff knowledge re-emerges as one of the top three barriers to TEL development in this year’s Survey, in combination with lack of time and a supportive departmental/school culture. The availability of TEL support staff at an institutional and local level tops the list of encouraging factors identified by respondents to help promote TEL development. Encouragingly, the evidence in this year’s Survey shows that there has been an increase in TEL support staff across the sector to help support TEL activities within institutions.
Rob Howe, Head of Learning Technology at the University of Northampton commented, “The TEL survey provides a comprehensive sector view of the current state of play that impacts staff and student experiences. It allows us to importantly benchmark our current activity against our peers and also inform future planning decisions. It is an essential read for all those working and supporting technologies at their institutions.”
Brian Irwin, Chair of the UK Heads of eLearning Forum commented, “The UCISA survey has long been a valuable source of information about trends in the use of technology enhanced learning across the UK HE sector. Heads of eLearning consistently report its usefulness in benchmarking their institutional provision, providing evidence to senior management and planning for the future.”

The 2018 Survey of Technology Enhanced Learning for higher education can be found on the UCISA website:

Notes for Editors
1. UCISA, the Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association, is a membership organisation representing those responsible for delivering information management systems and technology services in universities, colleges and other institutions. UCISA membership is institutional and has almost 100% coverage within the higher education sector.
2. For further information about UCISA, or to arrange an interview with Peter Tinson, please contact or telephone the UCISA Office on 01865 283425.

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