New Research Provides Insights and Actions for Courseware Suppliers and Institutions to Support Adoption and Improve Satisfaction
BOSTON, (March 10, 2015) – Tyton Partners today released findings from a national survey of postsecondary faculty that reveals the current state of courseware adoption, as well as insight into barriers to adoption at their institutions and faculty satisfaction. “Time for Class: Lessons for the Future of Digital Courseware in Higher Education, Part 1: Faculty Perspectives on Courseware” is the first in a three-part series looking at courseware adoption in US postsecondary education, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In addition to the survey results, “Faculty Perspectives on Courseware” includes recommendations for supplier and institutional stakeholders to help resolve key adoption hurdles and drive satisfaction among courseware users. The following publications in this series – to be published across the next two months – will explore the state of the courseware market, provide insight into courseware adoption decisions at institutions, and discuss the potential for redefining the category with the goal of delivering personalized learning at scale.
As more students show interest in and need for flexible learning environments – those that are mobile, online, and technology-driven – postsecondary educators are searching for ways to provide effective personalized instruction using technology. Digital courseware is a leading solution in this effort. A survey of 2,700 faculty members and administrators conducted in July and August 2014 found that 54 percent of faculty respondents used digital courseware during the 2013-2014 academic year and 52 percent value its potential impact. But, while digital courseware has shown promise, significant barriers to adoption remain.
Survey results uncovered three major barriers. Forty percent of faculty members felt “additional time required for faculty” was a top barrier to adoption of digital courseware at their institution. In breaking down the results by institution type, faculty members at both private four-year and public four-year institutions identified “additional time” as a top obstacle, but among faculty members at two-year public colleges cost to students ranked as the most prevalent hurdle. Efficacy was also a concern, with 26 percent of respondents listing it as a top three adoption barrier.
“These results are a microcosm of the larger disconnect between campuses and companies serving the postsecondary market. The continued pursuit of increasing efficacy and delivering successful student outcomes is critical to the evolution of digital courseware, but it is also evident that faculty members want tools that are easier to implement and customize,” said Gates Bryant, Partner at Tyton Partners. “The channels of communication between faculty members, administrators, and suppliers should be open and clear; this is the most effective way to develop courseware tools and resources that better meet the needs of stakeholders in the classroom.”
The survey also found a paradoxical environment for digital courseware adoption at many institutions. More than half (60 percent) of faculty reported they are encouraged to use digital courseware in their classrooms, but fewer said they were trained (30 percent) or incentivized to use platforms effectively (15 percent). In open-ended answers faculty members pointed to an institutional prioritization of research in their field over spending time on using new tools in the classroom.
“Faculty members and administrators walk a tight rope balancing research and instruction. Research is critical to advancing one’s career in academia so investment in new technologies for teaching and learning is often considered too high a cost for faculty members to consider,” said Adam Newman, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Tyton Partners. “It is up to institutions to consider how current policies and established paths for long-term career development impact instruction in the classroom. Creating institutional conditions where faculty members can successfully implement digital courseware is critical to accelerating adoption.”
The paper also reveals steps suppliers and institutions can take to support courseware adoption and improve faculty satisfaction. For suppliers, focus should be on the faculty user experience, including making product adoption and implementation easier for faculty by easing technical integration with institutional systems and offering robust training that includes tools for instruction and time-saving best practices. Institutional leadership should take time to evaluate the conditions that will support or act as disincentives for faculty to use digital courseware at their institutions.
The subsequent publications in this digital courseware research series, “Evolution of Courseware Suppliers” and “Charting a Path Forward to Redefine Courseware,” will be released soon.
“Faculty Perspectives on Courseware” is available for free download now at https://tytonpartners.com/library/time-for-class-lessons-for-the-future-of-digital-courseware-in-higher-education/
About Tyton Partners
Tyton Partners is the leading provider of investment banking and strategy consulting services to the global knowledge sector. The firm has offices in Boston and Stamford (CT), and an experienced team of bankers and consultants who deliver a unique spectrum of services from mergers and acquisitions and capital markets access to strategy development that helps companies, organizations, and investors navigate the complexities of the education, media, and information markets. Tyton Partners leverages a deep foundation of transactional and advisory experience and unparalleled level of global relationships to make its clients’ aspirations a reality and catalyze innovation in the sector. For more information visit www.tytonpartners.com or follow us @tytonpartners.