Teaching with a book or with a game? Educators’ opinions about digital teaching.
In spring 2023, we together with a team of Higher Education students conducted a survey among educators to understand their perceptions regarding the digitalisation of teaching and learning. The results show that a teacher's personal experience and familiarity with digital tools plays a more pivotal role in how digital teaching methods are perceived and applied than any external or institutional factors. This article sums the key findings of the survey.
Who participated in the survey?
The survey was conducted to understand perceptions, attitudes and usage patterns of digital teaching. The respondents were higher education teachers in Europe. In total, 95 educators have answered the survey.
Most of the responses were gained from Finland and Austria. In total, 14 countries' representatives participated in the survey.
Majority of the respondents teach at universities of applied sciences. One third were the representatives of universities. Educators in most cases were providing courses on both bachelor and master's levels. Five percent of respondents were involved in executive and doctoral education.
29% percent of survey respondents had over 21 years of teaching experience. 20% percent have been teaching for 16-20 years. Only 6% of respondents had less than 3 years of working experience.
Most common expertise area was supply chain management. Other common areas were business administration related studies, logistics, operations management, entrepreneurship etc.
The survey has revealed that most classical teaching methods are still the most commonly used. Nearly 100% percent of educators use lectures. Additionally, around 80% of respondents use group work and discussions in their teaching. This indicates that teachers aim to develop interaction and communication skills among their students.
Case studies, textbooks and guest lectures are before digital methods. Currently it is evident that offline and analog methods are still dominating the digital ones. However, videos and multimedia are used by more than half of the respondents and games and simulations are still at 41%
The survey has asked the respondents to identify themselves as heavy or light technology users. The results aim to generate data on differences in teaching between light and heavy users of technology. An important conclusion is that teachers who consider themselves heavy users of technology use a significantly wider range of teaching methods.
Heavy users use videos and multimedia, blended learning, and on the third place, games and simulations most when considering digital methods. Still, they used lecture and group-based teaching methods before these. Textbooks come after blended learning in videos and multimedia, which indicates that videos and multimedia are seen as a better and superior tool for delivering knowledge than books.
Games and simulation are the second most frequently used digital teaching methods. These results demonstrate an increasing importance, especially when looking at the heavy users on the right. However, we can still see that the pattern and structure in education is still quite conventional.
In comparison to the light users, only about half of the heavy users ranked lectures first. 88% of the light users ranked lectures first opposed to 49% of the heavy users, and almost a third ranked blended learning first for the heavy users, which makes it the most used digital method.
Nevertheless, most educators use digital methods regularly, and only about one third use them seldom to almost never and never. Teachers who have not been teaching for very long, which suggests that most of them are younger, ranked the online tools are not significantly higher. Nevertheless, they use them more often as 87% use them regularly or every day. Additionally, universities of applied science use digital methods more frequently with 79% using them regularly or every day.
What do educators think about digital teaching?
The graph illustrates the respondents’ perceptions of the importance of digitalisation of learning. Digital teaching methods are seen as an essential tool by all groups. In comparison between light and heavy users, heavy users consider them even more essential than light users of digital teaching methods.
What are the attitudes towards digitalisation contributing to the efficiency of learning? The results indicate that the overall attitude is that efficiency of learning is not heavily enhanced by the digital methods. Heavy users view it as a more efficiency improving factor than the light users.
Majority of respondents have seen inclusion of digital teaching methods as important by both heavy and light users of digital methods.
30% of respondents have emphasised that it is important to include digital methods into education as it is a part of everyday life both now and in the future. Thus, it should also be reflected in teaching.
21% said that application of digital methods prepares students for further working life.
19% stated that digital teaching methods are beneficial in their practicality, effectiveness and realism. Thus, it makes teaching content more engaging.
Among the concerns, the respondents emphasised that application of digital teaching methods varies between the topics, and might not always fit. There is a fear that usa of digital teaching methods may lead to less face-to-face teaching and interaction. When applying digital methods a right balance is needed.
When it comes to the assessment of different factors related to digital teaching and personal digital skills, the survey has shown the following results:
With a rating 4.4 / 5 there is a strong agreement that digital methods offer more diverse teaching. Even for both heavy and light users, relatively small amounts require more support and training to develop their digital skills.