Jan 23 2018

CAOs Believe in Adaptive Learning Tools, but Lack Campus Support

A survey of chief academic officers finds many are disappointed in IT investment.

Millennial college students aren’t the only ones who value technology on campus. A survey by the Association of Chief Academic Officers (ACAO) finds that 86 percent of CAOs agree that digital resources are making learning more efficient and effective.

In “Provosts, Pedagogy and Digital Learning,” 92 percent of CAOs agree that adaptive learning tech in particular could improve student learning outcomes and almost 90 percent want their faculty to make greater use of these data-driven tools in entry-level and gateway courses.

EDUCAUSE research indicates that adaptive learning, where elements of artificial intelligence use data to create personalized learning experiences for students, has great potential in improving outcomes for all students.

For example, the University of Central Florida used an adaptive tool in its introductory algebra classes and found that the tool helped students of all achievement levels improve.

However, despite the CAO support for adaptive learning tools, less than a third report to ACAO and The Campus Computing Project — which conducted the survey — that their campus’ investment in IT resources, such as data analytics tools, was very effective.

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Digital Native CAOs Find IT Investment Lacking

“The data suggests that CAOs have great faith in the power of information technology and digital course resources to transform the student learning experience,” Kenneth C. Green, the founding director of The Campus Computing Project, writes in the survey. “At the same time, the survey highlights important questions about how CAOs assess the effectiveness of campus investments in IT for instruction and operations, and also the current campus level of satisfaction with key IT resources and services.”

For example, only 37 percent of the surveyed CAOs report that IT investment to support on-campus instruction has been effective. Also, just one-fifth of CAOs say they found those on campus to be very satisfied with the analytics tools to support student success initiatives.

While disappointed in the efficacy of IT investment, the CAOs largely report that teachers and university leaders strongly support technology.

In the coming years, the CAOs indicate that instructional integration of information technology, IT training and support for faculty, IT investment in student success initiatives, and online education programs would be their top IT priorities.

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