Interesting Reads This Week

Surveying the surveys - this week’s adventure in data

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I love surveys, I really do. I am, by training, a social scientist so I guess it’s not that surprising. But I love surveys so much that I own and read entire books about surveys (I have recommendations). I worked briefly for a survey organization while in grad school and once frightened a pollster from a major public opinion organization with the unbridled enthusiasm with which I agreed to participate in his phone interview.

This week, as a special treat to myself, I have saved up to read several recent EdTech survey reports. Reader, I must tell you that it turns out surveys are a bit like ice cream or bourbon. One serving at a time is delicious, but more than that and you start to feel a little nauseous. More about that later.

What are the data in all these surveys telling us? For me, three of the big messages from the reports are that students are facing significant obstacles in online learning and using EdTech, that we need to do a much better job of communicating with them, and that the way we look at online learning really determines what we think of it.

Barriers to using EdTech and accessing online learning

This will come as confirmation to pretty much anyone who works in or related to higher ed IT, but students face significant challenges in accessing technology. This was something many folks had to deal with and address during the pandemic when it became clear that many students needed to borrow hardware.

The Tyton Partners Listening to Learners survey report shows the extent of this enduring problem.

It would have been useful to get a breakdown of this data according to institution type (e.g., 2-year vs 4-year, public vs private, and research-intensive vs comprehensive) as I suspect the differences would be striking. In Tyton’s Time for Class survey provides data on whether digital access is included in the cost of attendance, which gives insight into the problem.

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