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.
43% agreed that digital teaching takes more time than traditional methods. This seems to be connected to unfamiliarity with digital methods.
69% agreed that when using digital teaching methods the teacher remains in control of the learning situation. Digital methods are not perceived as too complicated and demanding.
Respondents do not regard digital methods as too complex, but a bigger obstacle seems to be the lack of knowledge about the opportunities that digital methods offer for teaching. To overcome this, time investments are seen as a necessity.
As to possible benefits when using digital teaching methods,over 77% of respondents agreed that digital teaching and learning methods allow for students to learn how to operate digital tools. Based on the results it can be concluded that the respondents find that digital teaching methods offer more versatile possibilities. Students deal with realistic business scenarios, and, consequently, demonstrate higher motivation in learning.
After the application of digital teaching methods, they are seen as time-saving and more effective. This indicates that obstacles and concerns before starting to use them are mainly associated with the transition from analog to digital methods.
What are the challenges of digital teaching?
As to the reason why educators avoid digital teaching methods, the top reason was unfamiliarity with these methods. This also explains why classic methods, such as lectures are used the most as they are known to everyone. Similarly, a third of respondents find that digital teaching methods do not provide suitable content. This might be connected to unfamiliarity with options available, and that the known digital methods are not perceived as beneficial or effective.
31% of the respondents found that digital teaching is time consuming. It can be assumed that digital teaching methods are seen as time consuming due to unfamiliarity of how to use them, which will change once educators start using digital methods. When there is no institutional support for educating teachers in how to use digital tools, teachers have to learn by themselves, and this requires a lot of time. Nevertheless, lack of support from the university is not that frequently reported (16%).
As to the differences between heavy and light users of digital technology, only the heavy users report to have no problems with digital teaching methods. Their challenges are mostly connected to either lack of financial or time resources. Light users predominantly emphasised the challenge of unfamiliarity. Half of them find that digital methods provide no relevant content and are time-consuming, hereas, only 23% of heavy users shared this option.
All these results point out that most reserved perceptions towards the adoption of digital teaching methods are connected to the lack of knowledge about the available opportunities. Main obstacles for using digital teaching methods are not external factors such as university support or price, but rather educators unfamiliarity and inexperience with such methods.
Respondents express concerns regarding students' digital learning. Many find that digital learning may be connected to remote or isolated learning environments, which is not necessarily the case with digital teaching methods. Many digital methods can be easily implemented in a classroom or teamwork environment.
54% of heavy users indicated a concern that digital learning may be connected to students’ lack of self-discipline. Light users of digital technologies do not see this as a problem. Opposingly, over a half of light users are concerned that digital teaching leads to poor quality of learning. However,only 14% percent of heavy users agree with this, which suggests that the quality of learning is not compromised by digital learning methods.
How to make digital teaching more frequently used?
Educators find that it is important for students to earn multiple skills with digital methods. Additionally, respondents named ease of use and possibility to teach large groups of students as crucial in implementing digital teaching methods. Availability for distance learning was foundas the most valuable aspect by heavy users.
The graph indicates a significant difference in “possibilities for customisation”. Light users find it more important than heavy users. It seems that light users have concerns about the suitability of digital methods to teaching specific content. This may stem from the light users’ unfamiliarity with how to tailor the content to digital teaching.
What is the conclusion?
In conclusion, it can be stated that despite the familiarity and use of digital teaching methods, all respondents clearly perceive their benefits. Nevertheless, when it comes to implementing digital teaching methods, unfamiliarity is seen as the biggest obstacle. This is associated with uncertainty about possibilities and types of digital methods. To overcome this institutional support is needed, as there can be seen a positive impact of university support to the use of digital teaching methods.
Digital teaching methods are often associated with distance learning, which in turn are associated with students' isolation. However, digital tools can also be used in face-to-face settings. As digitalization is an integral part of the present and future world, it must also be reflected in teaching and learning.
This text was created by the RealGame Business Simulation team.
RealGame is a Finnish business simulation provider. RealGame creates simulations based on decades of experience and latest academic research. Business simulations by RealGame are created by educators for educators with a purpose of providing hands-on experiences and an understanding of how supply chain operations evolve continuously, hour by hour. RealGame is unique in that it has a clock-driven operational mode, which allows for generating transaction-specific data for business analysis and strategic planning. Please cite this as: RealGame (2023). Teaching with a book or with a game? Educators’ opinions about digital teaching , Realgame.fi. Retrieved [Date], from https://www.realgame.fi/