Brief Thoughts on UCISA’s 2014 TEL Survey

By B.C. (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been reading this year’s results [pdf] of UCISA’s annual TEL survey and wanted to jot down a few of the things that jumped out.

The key change though since 2012 is in the level of senior management engagement with TEL development. The 2014 case studies reveal that senior managers are now driving TEL development and are setting expectations for the adoption of tools by teaching staff.

I’ve frequently found that one of the barriers to the development of TEL is the lack of interest in it from senior management – whether this is reflected in ignoring it or only paying lip-service to it. With so many balls in the air it isn’t a surprise when staff don’t engage with TEL for their myriad reasons – so it is essential that senior management recognise its importance and correctly resource and drive TEL development.

One notable change in 2014 is the more frequent mention by institutions of cloud based hosted services […] Northampton and Glasgow Caledonian have taken the decision to opt for outsourced provision of their VLE platform, reducing the level of central technology support that is needed to run their centrally supported systems.

I’m a strong proponent of SAAS and PAAS, but I’m not clear here whether this refers to SAAS/PAAS outsourcing alone, or also to a hosted cloud solution. I’d be interested in seeing what large-scale cloud-hosted Moodle solutions are available – though it seems Northampton and Glasgow Caledonian both use Blackboard so their outsourced solutions are less interesting to me.

The number of staff FTE supporting TEL services ranges from two support analysts at City College Norwich to 18
FTE at City University London and covers a variety of roles, such as learning technologists, educational developers,
multimedia support staff and academics.

In a team of two (rapidly expanding to four and a fifth due for mid-way through next year) I’m very interested in the size and make-up of other TEL teams. Over my career these have varied and I recognise there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, rather that different organisations have different needs. I’ll confess to a bit of bias that the teams I’ve been in haven’t been staffed and supported as strongly as I would have hoped – hopefully the increasing buy-in by senior management will fix that!

The 2014 TEL Survey results confirm that there has been little change in the delivery of fully online courses, which remain a niche activity across the sector.

As I’m involved in a lot of distance learning it is pleasing (from a competition perspective) that we don’t have more of it. It would be interesting to see how UCISA’s survey results change when factoring in the various private educational providers that do have more of an online presence.

Featured image: By B.C. (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons