A substantial majority of university students are feeling positive about the quality of online learning, according to a survey published by Jisc.
The membership organisation for technology services in the sector says this reflects a significant improvement since an earlier survey in 2020.
Its new digital experience insights survey of higher education students attracted 27,131 respondents from 40 universities in the UK, and has shown that most now experience some form of digital learning.
Among the findings highlighted by Jisc are that 80% rated the quality of online learning on their course as above average, 83% though digital technology makes learning more convenient, and 71% agreed that it helps them to make good progress with their learning.
In addition, 71% said the support from their universities to learn online was above average, and 49% agreed their online learning was engaging and motivating.
The survey identified some challenges, including that only 43% of respondents received training for learning online, 46% did not agree they had been given guidance on digital skills needed for their course. and 39% agreed they had been given opportunities to build digital skills for future employment.
It also showed that digital inequality is a problem, with 33% saying poor Wi-Fi on campus had created problems, and 32% saying this was the case off campus. Also, 12% had issues with mobile data on campus and 26% off campus.
The report advocates that universities should continue to offer and improve the range of platforms and modes of learning to cater for a range of preferences among students. They also need to assess the support they offer for a range of digital skills.
Baselining and benchmarking
Sarah Knight, head of learning and teaching transformation, higher education at Jisc, said: “Engaging with students about their experiences of the digital environment is an essential part of baselining and benchmarking digital maturity. It is encouraging to see so many students happy with how online and blended learning is being delivered, and how it is supporting their learning outcomes.
“However, with only 49% of students agreeing that online learning is engaging and motivating (even though this is an increase from 2020) there is still more progress to be made.
“At Jisc we are developing a maturity model for digital transformation, building on our framework, to support HE leaders and organisations to create strategic visions for digital transformation, helping to devise actionable plans.
“The model will have a focus on people and practices first and foremost, as well as processes and technology. It will feature advice on culture, capacity, investment, infrastructure, and digital skills.”