The UCISA (the Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association) have recently published their 2016 survey looking at how educational technologies are being used in UK higher education, identifying the drivers and challenges behind the adoption of technology enhanced learning.

In their results, UCISA found the primary driver for the use of TEL in higher education remains, enhancing the quality of learning and teaching.  "Meeting student expectations" is again in second place whilst a new response, arising from a greater emphasis on the National Student Survey, “Improving student satisfaction” comes in as the third most common driver.

The remit of UCISA is "to promote excellence in the application of information systems and services in support of teaching, learning, research and administration in higher and further education", and their surveys, which they’ve been running every couple years since 2008, help in identifying key issues are across the community.

When looking at the barriers to adoption, lack of time remains top (and has been since the 2005 survey). Departmental/school culture moves up to second place in the barriers, whilst Institutional culture is also in the Top 5. Lack of internal sources of funding to support development ranked third.

Blackboard and Moodle are still the two most popular VLEs used in institutions, with the two having the same combined percentage of use as they did in 2014.  The number of institutions using SharePoint has rapidly declined from 2014, reducing by a half.  In comparison, there's been an increase in the use of open learning platforms such as FutureLearn and Blackboard’s Open Education - the figure for FutureLearn having trebled since 2014.

The 2016 survey shows a rapid increase in the use of document sharing tools and a steady rise in the use of lecture capture tools, but podcasting tools are declining in popularity. 

When it comes to the staff who support TEL, the survey found little change in the nature of training and development activities being promoted.  Jisc events are the most common development activities with conferences/ seminars and internal staff development all remaining key development activities.

Electronic Management of Assessment (EMA) has moved to the top of the list of items making the most demand on TEL support teams. Lecture capture and Mobile technologies remain in the top three but mobile technologies shows a decrease.  The demand from learning analytics and fully online courses continues to increase, whilst accessibility (especially around lecture capture and captioning) is expected to show greater demand moving forward.

The Top 5 challenges facing institutions are largely unchanged. Staff Development is the most commonly cited challenge followed by Electronic Management of Assessment. Lecture capture/recording continues to move up the rankings with Technical infrastructure & Legal/policy issues and Lack of support staff/ specialist skills/resources making up the Top 5 challenges.

When planning for the use of learning technologies, it’s useful to identify the drivers and challenges facing the organisation.  Understanding what others are dealing with, can help to give you a heads-up on what you may be facing down the line.

You can download the results from the UCISA website:

2016 TEL Survey (233 page pdf)

TEL case studies (48 page pdf)