Faculty Technology Survey

Instructional staff were invited to participate in the Spring 2011 Technology Survey of Faculty. This survey was developed during the 2010-2011 academic year in collaboration with Lisa Smulyan, Associate Provost; the ITS Committee; the Pedagogy subcommittee of the Strategic Planning Working Group 2 and with extensive support from Institutional Research. It was the first time in recent history that a survey of this type was executed at Swarthmore College.

Ninety-nine of the 221 people surveyed completed the survey instrument, for a response rate of 45 percent. The respondents were a representative sample across departments and divisions. Tenured and tenure-track faculty were well represented (86 percent of respondents and 75 percent of the pool). The part-time, temporary, leave replacement and academic staff categories were under represented in responses. Senior faculty were well represented (72 percent of respondents and 62 percent of the pool), while assistant professors, instructors, and lecturers were less well represented. Women were somewhat better represented than men (50 percent of respondents and 45 percent of the pool).

Faculty Use of Various Technologies

Faculty report wide-spread use of many different technologies. For example, nearly all faculty report viewing online video in the last year, 87 percent report using online file storage tools like Swatfiles or Google Docs, and almost as many report using a presentation tool like PowerPoint. In the last year, 80 percent have used a service like Skype or Google chat and more than half of those used such services for professional communications. Sixty-six percent report participating in social networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIn, and 64 percent have created online content on blogs, websites, wikis or podcasts. Fifty-one percent use computers to perform data analysis.

Faculty indicated interest in learning more about several of these technologies, especially those related to digital media. Twenty-six percent of respondents indicate that they do not currently use tools to create or edit digital audio or video, but would like to learn how; 14 percent would like to know more about editing graphic images; and 13 percent would like to know more about creating online content such as blogs, wikis, podcasting and websites. Nineteen percent would like to learn how to conduct online surveys and 17% would like to learn how to utilize geographic information systems (GIS).

When asked what their colleagues are doing with technology that looks interesting, the faculty identify a variety of technologies including simulations, digital collaboration, blogs, digital media creation, clickers for collecting anonymous student feedback, new techniques for data analysis, and open access journals and archives.

To the extent that they experience obstacles to their increased use of technologies, faculty most commonly report that they lack sufficient time. Only 6 percent indicated that lack of time was not an issue for them. Fifty-five percent said they need more information about ways that technologies could be helpful beyond what they already use. Technical support, student considerations, resources and space were less likely to be seen as obstacles, although small percentages found each of these to be a significant obstacle.

In the past two years, one in four faculty has published research results or other scholarly work in an exclusively digital format. Examples include blogs, youtube, a dissertation repository, articles in online journals, and entries in online databases.

Course-Specific Questions

The most popular means of distributing course materials are Blackboard (78 percent) and email (62 percent). Not counting email, faculty in the humanities average 1.5 different ways to distribute course content, such as Blackboard and a blog. In the Natural sciences and engineering, faculty use an average of 1.7 different ways to distribute electronic materials, often Blackboard plus their own websites; and faculty in social sciences use 2.0 different methods, typically Blackboard paired with Moodle, blogs, SwatFiles or Google Docs. Specifically in regard to learning management systems, 63 percent are using Blackboard only, 14% use Blackboard and Moodle, and 5 precent are using only Moodle.

Nine out of ten faculty update online course content themselves; 15 percent rely on departmental staff, such as an administrative assistant, to update materials. Smaller percentages turn to student assistants, ITS staff, or librarians for help with updating course content.

One-third of instructors share their course materials, such as syllabi, lecture notes, or assignments publicly. Another 12 percent say that they would if it were easier to do so.

Facilities Use

Ninety-nine percent of faculty report using classroom projection systems at least occasionally, while almost 70 percent report using them more than once or twice a week. Twenty-three percent teach in a computer classroom at least once or twice a semester. Fifty-nine percent report at least occasional use of the Beardsley Media Center, and that group is spread very evenly across the divisions. Those who report using the Media Center weekly or daily are all in the Social Sciences.

Satisfaction with ITS Services

In general, the faculty are satisfied with ITS services. In all areas except one, the faculty's mean rating of ITS services falls between "somewhat satisfied" and "very satisfied." The top-rated services identified were Media Services assistance, the wired network, the Beardsley Media Center, Internet bandwidth, and mySwarthmore. The only service for which the mean score fell between "somewhat dissatisfied" and "somewhat satisfied" was the campus' wireless network, while the ITS department web site and Academic Technologies project support were the next lowest rated services.