Shortly before Christmas Boris, our doctoral researcher, presented the findings of our student questionnaire to the Project Board and Delivery Group and it made for an interesting meeting. The questionnaire asked students about their use of digital technology and applications as well as testing their attitudes to digital skills as they relate to employability. Since some schools were under represented in the early findings we extended the life of the questionnaire and these additional data brought the total number of respondents to 563.
The headline findings from the total survey are that 87.6% students love digital technology and 81.5% believe themselves to be digitally literate. This latter figure leads us to conclude that any marketing of sessions focussing on digital literacy will need a more sophisticated hook than ” Come and learn digital literacy” if it is to appeal to this significant majority who believe they already have these skills.
Further finding were encouraging:
- Academic staff were considered digitally literate by 64.9% and support staff got a similar rating by 69.2% of respondents
- 92.3% of respondents consider it important for students to develop digital skills
- 55.9% agreed with the statement, “The university has the responsibility to equip me with the digital literacy skills I need”
In terms of ownership/access to digital tools:
- 91.6% own a smartphone
- 93.3% have a laptop
- 79% have access to a desktop PC
- 39.1% have a tablet
- 28.4% have an e-reader
For technology based applications the findings were as follows:
- 97.9% use Blackboard
- 85.8% use Skype
- 85.4% use facebook
- 75.8% use iTunes
There were some variations in attitudes by school, for example:
- Students from the Business School agreed significantly more with the statement that it is the University of Westminster’s responsibility to equip them with the digital literacy skills that are required, than did the students affiliated to the School of Law
- Students in the School of Law felt a significantly lower need for training regarding digital literacy than reported by their counterparts from the School of Media, Arts and Design or Business School
- The difference with the highest significance was found with regard to the statement that the digital literacy skills needed in the courses get more complex as students progress through the course. Students from the Business School agreed significantly more with this statement than did students from the School of Law, Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages or Architecture
Overall, 95.7% of the participants agreed that using technology is essential to their studies, with 90.0% seeing it as essential for teaching and 90.6% regarding it as essential for learning. In terms of assessment, only 5.6% of the participants regarded the use of technology as not being essential.
Approximately 56% of the participants agreed that, in their opinion, most students like to engage with learning material while travelling and 81.9% use their laptops for study/all aspects of their life whilst only 1.6% use their smartphone for study.
We have yet to fully digest the figures and share them more widely with our colleagues both in the Schools and in Corporate Services but we hope they will contribute to a clearer understanding of our students’ current use of technology alongside their understanding of and attitudes to digital skills. The findings will also feed into wider university work such as the Learning Futures project.
On March 21st we are hosting an event of workshops and seminars for students that will further explore the link between digital skills and employability. The marketing plans for this event will draw on some of the questionnaire findings.