College Faculty and Administrators Feel Prepared to Teach Online This Fall and Are Optimistic about the Future of Higher Education, According to New Survey

The Second Digital Learning Pulse Survey, Conducted by Bay View Analytics on Behalf of OLC, WCET, UPCEA, CDLRA and Cengage, Looks at the Needs of Higher Education Institutions in the Wake of COVID-19

Boston – September 22, 2020 — U.S. higher education faculty and administrators agree that they are prepared to teach online this fall, and while questions remain, they are optimistic about the future of higher education, according to the second edition of the Digital Learning Pulse Survey, an ongoing four-part series to better understand the needs of colleges in the wake of the transformative disruption brought on by COVID-19.

The survey of 887 faculty and administrators at 597 institutions was conducted by Bay View Analytics on behalf of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), Canadian Digital Learning Research Association (CDLRA) and primary partner and underwriter Cengage, the largest U.S.-based education and technology company serving the college market.

“Compared to our initial research in April, this second survey shows a marked increase in the level of confidence of higher education faculty and administrators. A host of professional development resources have been made available and educators have put considerable time and effort into preparing for teaching in the new COVID-19 reality, and it shows,” said Jeff Seaman, lead researcher and director of Bay View Analytics.

Additional survey findings:

Teaching Online –

  • The overwhelming majority of faculty (84 percent) and administrators (96 percent) agree that they are prepared to teach online this fall.
  • Faculty at two-year and four-year private colleges feel more prepared to teach online than faculty at four-year public institutions – 88 percent versus 81 percent.
  • Faculty and administrators at all types of institutions had access to multiple types of professional development – webinars, self-paced trainings, online resources, and more – and found them to be effective.

Confidence in the Future –

  • Nearly half of faculty and administrators across all institution types are optimistic about the future of higher education, but there is still room for improvement.
    • Future of Higher Education:
      • Administrators – 46 percent optimistic, 23 percent pessimistic and 31 percent neutral
      • Faculty – 42 percent optimistic, 31 percent pessimistic and 27 percent neutral
  • Educators are also optimistic about their personal future role in higher education, with administrators feeling more positive.
    • Personal Role in Higher Education:
      • Administrators – 57 percent optimistic, 15 percent pessimistic and 28 percent neutral
      • Faculty – 42 percent optimistic, 21 percent pessimistic and 37 percent neutral

“When higher education moved to remote learning this spring, companies like Cengage quickly opened up access to their digital platforms and provided professional development training, resources, office hours and more to help faculty and institutions feel ready to lead their students in an online environment,” said Fernando Bleichmar, General Manager for Higher Education and Skills at Cengage. “These resources clearly made a difference, but there are many questions that need to be answered as to how higher education will evolve to meet the needs of students in the future.”

“The unanticipated sudden switch from in-person to remote learning left many feeling unprepared, but fortunately our network jumped into action and provided peers with the best practices, guidance and resources they needed to succeed,” said Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D., CEO of the Online Learning Consortium. “From Washington to Florida and everywhere in between, we are encouraged to see faculty and administrators turning challenges presented by the pandemic into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve access and quality for learners around the country.”

“What is most striking about the findings are the faculty perceptions of how effective professional development they received was for their online teaching. Compared to the sentiments expressed in the 2020 spring semester, the vast majority of faculty reported feeling prepared to teach online to some extent in the fall,” said Nicole Johnson, Research Director of the Canadian Digital Learning Research Association.

Survey findings will be presented in a free webinar “Higher Ed’s Responsive Strategies to COVID Bring About Faculty Confidence and Optimism” today, Sept. 22 at 2:00 pm ET. The webinar will feature a discussion with lead researcher Jeff Seaman, Director of Bay View Analytics; Nicole Johnson, Research Director, CDLRA; Jennifer Mathes, CEO of OLC; and Ryan Tipton, Provost at University of the Southwest; who will analyze the results and answer questions from participants. Click here for more details or to register for the webinar and receive a copy of the full survey report.

For more information on the survey results and to view the infographic, visit www.cengage.com/digital-learning-pulse-survey.

 

Methodology

The survey of higher education faculty and their readiness for teaching online in Fall 2020 was conducted between August 4 and August 14 by Bay View Analytics in partnership with four leading online learning organizations and underwritten by Cengage.

 

About Bay View Analytics

Bay View Analytics, formerly known as the Babson Survey Research Group, is a survey design, implementation, and analysis organization. Bay View Analytics partners with and conducts research for universities, businesses, foundations, and agencies including the London School of Business, Hunter College, the College Board, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Gates Foundation, and Tyton Partners. Bay View Analytics’ activities cover all stages of projects, including initial proposals, sample selection, survey design, methodological decisions, analysis plan, statistical analyses, and production of reports. Learn more at http://onlinelearningsurvey.com/.

 

About Cengage

Cengage is the education and technology company built for learners. As the largest US-based provider of teaching and learning materials for higher ed, we offer valuable options at affordable price points. Our industry-leading initiatives include Cengage Unlimited, the first-of-its-kind all-access digital subscription service.  We embrace innovation to create learning experiences that build confidence and momentum toward the future students want. Headquartered in Boston, Cengage also serves K-12, library and workforce training markets around the world. Visit us at www.cengage.com or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

 

About WCET

WCET is the leader in the practice, policy, & advocacy of digital learning in higher education. WCET is a member-driven non-profit which brings together colleges, universities, higher education organizations, and companies to collectively improve the quality and reach of technology-enhanced learning programs. Learn more at https://wcet.wiche.edu/.

 

About UPCEA

UPCEA is the association for professional, continuing, and online education. Founded in 1915, the association serves its members with innovative conferences and specialty seminars, research and benchmarking information, professional networking opportunities and timely publications. Based in Washington, D.C., UPCEA builds greater awareness of the vital link between adult learners and non-traditional learners and public policy issues. Visit www.upcea.edu.

 

About CDLRA

The CDLRA tracks the status and development of online, distance and digital learning in public post-secondary education across Canada. Learn more at https://onlinelearningsurveycanada.ca/.

 

About Online Learning Consortium

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is a collaborative community of education leaders and innovators, dedicated to advancing quality digital teaching and learning experiences designed to reach and engage the modern learner – anyone, anywhere, anytime. OLC inspires innovation and quality through an extensive set of resources, including, best-practice publications, quality benchmarking, leading-edge instruction, community-driven conferences, practitioner-based and empirical research and expert guidance. The growing OLC community includes faculty members, administrators, trainers, instructional designers, and other learning professionals, as well as educational institutions, professional societies and corporate enterprises. Visit http://onlinelearningconsortium.org for more information.

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