December 5, 2021

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D2L study reveals positive attitudes towards EdTech and digital transformation across UK higher education

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Enhancing the student experience, improving course quality and supporting future growth are the prominent drivers of the digital transformation programme in the UK

LONDON, UKD2L, a global learning technology leader, today announced the results of a survey of more than 500 higher education professionals in the UK. While the Covid-19 pandemic ushered in a new digital era for education providers, many were already undergoing a digital transformation to meet the changing needs of students and staff. This research examines shifting attitudes towards digital transformation, highlighting some of the most common drivers and motivations, and outlining post-pandemic recovery plans that put the student experience front and centre.

Digital transformation is driven from the top
The research identified that higher education leadership teams are the main catalyst for the digital agenda in the UK. Most respondents report that their leadership drove the digital agenda (49 per cent), followed closely by their staff (48 per cent).

Even though students are not the primary agents behind the shift, they are the main reason that leadership wanted to institute a digital transformation programme. According to the survey, enhancing the student experience (51 per cent) and improving course quality (47 per cent) are the prominent drivers of the digital transformation programme in the UK.

Of those surveyed, 84 per cent state that institutions need to digitally transform to enable future growth. Nearly 52 per cent hope that digital transformation will improve student engagement, while 48 per cent want it to measure and improve learning outcomes, and 46 per cent aim to improve student retention and completion.

Perceptions and use of EdTech among educators
The vast majority of institutions in the UK had a digital transformation strategy prior to the Covid-19 pandemic pushing learning online, but 62 per cent report that the crisis accelerated their implementation. Nearly half (48 per cent) have seen a rise in the introduction of new learning technology to improve the digital learning experience, 46 per cent have seen an increase in the digital skills within academia and learner communities, and 44 per cent have introduced new content to deliver a more engaging online/blended experience during lockdowns.

More than three quarters (76 per cent) are now creating their own content for flipped learning or similar pedagogical methods, such as blended learning, which 7 in 10 respondents (69 per cent) think offers educational benefits as opposed to solely face-to-face teaching.

As with anything, there were practical challenges in shifting online. Thirty per cent of respondents say it is somewhat or very difficult to transition from campus-based learning to online instruction. The greatest difficulty in the transition is a lack of support and training in the use of digital tools to deliver education.

“For higher education, digital transformation must be a holistic exercise that involves more than just implementing digital technologies,” said Stewart Watts, Vice President, EMEA, D2L. “Instead, emphasis should be placed on changing pedagogical and organisational approaches to take advantage of these new technologies. This research shows that, despite some ongoing barriers to entry – namely cost, technological dependence, and lack of resources or infrastructure – many education providers are starting to address the needs of students and faculty and create a more connected learning environment through digital transformation.”

What does the future hold for digital transformation?
Considering the widely documented barriers to adoption beforehand, the top priorities for respondents over the next two years are enhancing online provision (52 per cent), improving digital skills within the academic community (51 per cent) and modernising, investing, and improving universities’ online infrastructure (42 per cent).

Though it is agreed that technology enhances the learning experience, only 41 per cent of respondents say that there is training available at their institution to introduce and support faculty and staff shifting to new technologies.

“This lack of instructional design knowledge makes the creation of a structured online space challenging, especially when planning online courses at short notice,” says Watts. “In the future, a general understanding of online tools and workflows will be of the utmost importance. Staff need to know what tools they have available and how they can best be applied, otherwise it will prove difficult to translate live activities into fully immersive online experiences.”

“As indicated in the UK government’s Outcome Delivery Plan: 2021 to 2022 for the Department of Education (DfE), improving the education sector’s digital infrastructure and connectivity is a high priority, and further investment in staff training and development is needed. The next few years are likely to herald significant changes not just here in the UK, but worldwide. We will see a net positive for the education sector as a whole, as new pedagogical methods are enabled that can greatly benefit universities, staff and, most importantly, the students.”

For further insight into the state of digital transformation across HigherEd (UK) visit: https://www.d2l.com/en-eu/resources/assets/embracing-digital-transformation-in-education/

ABOUT D2L
D2L is transforming the way the world learns – helping learners of all ages achieve more than they dreamed possible. Working closely with clients all over the world, D2L is supporting millions of people learning online and in person. Our more than 1000 global employees are dedicated to making the best learning products to leave the world better than where they found it. Learn more about D2L for K-12, higher education and businesses at www.D2L.com.

ABOUT D2L BRIGHTSPACE
D2L Brightspace is a cloud-based learning platform built for organisations that value continuous investment in people to drive their business success.

D2L Brightspace is powering smarter upskilling and reskilling of workforces around the world. It is the one place that supports all aspects of learning with better engagement and productivity through personalised learning. It gives your teams the tools they’re going to love and makes it easy to support exceptional experiences face-to-face or fully online.

D2L Brightspace is designed in close collaboration with clients around the world – building a rich set of features to improve engagement, retention and learning outcomes. And it makes it easier to give feedback. It’s worry-free with 99.99% reliability. It’s highly accessible and looks beautiful on any mobile device, making it easier for you to reach every learner.

Like many of our clients, D2L uses its award-winning Brightspace learning platform to support onboarding, compliance training, leadership development, and upskilling of its own employees. This has led to back-to-back #1 in North America awards for new hire and onboarding experiences. To learn more, visit D2L for Higher Education.

UK PRESS CONTACTS  
Pippa Twigg, Laurence Cooper, Finn Partners
07769 719 719
07874 247 638
[email protected]
Twitter: @D2L_EMEA

© 2021 D2L Corporation.

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