Apr 18 2024

Why Faculty Should Be Part of Technology Decision-Making

To accelerate ed tech adoption, higher ed leaders need faculty trust.

While most faculty agree that ed tech enhances the teaching and learning experience, many question whether higher education administrators are choosing the right products. In WGU Labs’ College Innovation Network survey of nearly 500 faculty members at post-secondary institutions, 30 percent of respondents said they do not trust their institution to choose effective products, and 27 percent do not trust ed tech vendors to provide effective products.

To establish trust, administrators need to include faculty members in decision-making and provide more robust support during implementation and use.

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Faculty Input Can Lead to More Strategic Purchasing Decisions

How faculty perceive, experience and interact with ed tech is critical to the successful integration of technology that improves the student experience. When they do not believe they have input into the vetting, selection and adoption of technology, they may be less likely to champion available products to their peers or incorporate products into their teaching practices.

As Justin Reich points out in his book, Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education, faculty members’ decisions about which products to use are informed by what their peers are doing. Without faculty input in institutional decision-making, leaders may be forfeiting one of the most powerful levers of influence in determining which products are being used on their campus.

What’s more, without instructors’ support and buy-in, students are unlikely to reap the full benefits of tech-enabled learning, including increased access to higher education, more engaging courses and personalized learning experiences that better meet student needs. Top-down purchasing decisions keep faculty members on the sidelines. Rather than relegating them to the role of bystander, institutions should bring faculty in as partners in the process.

RELATED: Supercharging higher ed device management with an e-procurement platform.

Strategies for Actively Involving Faculty in Decision-Making

According to the WGU Labs survey, 98 percent thought faculty should have a high level of influence in ed tech decisions, but only 61 percent agreed that faculty have that kind of decision-making authority.

Involving faculty members through a multipronged approach is most effective. Leaders can streamline implementations by ensuring adequate support and resources for faculty to learn and use new ed tech products.

Beyond passive strategies, there are approaches administrators can use to solicit faculty perspectives on technology. Finding what works for an institution requires understanding the available resources, faculty capacity and institutional culture. Institutions can consider a few options:

  • Faculty ed tech committees: Higher education leaders can add faculty members to existing committees and ensure they are part of every stage of technology evaluation and adoption.
  • Focus groups: These are a valuable mechanism for gathering preferences and priorities from faculty members. The conversations can focus on specific features, evaluate an individual product or consider more broadly what learning support students need.
  • Surveys: Surveys provide a low-resource investment avenue for reaching a broad set of faculty. One-time, discrete surveys can provide meaningful information, while ongoing surveys can create a dialogue. Frequent surveys enable leaders to gain deeper insights into faculty’s ed tech experiences, revealing inflection points in sentiment and adoption that administrators can use to make adjustments to existing tools and apply to evaluations of future technology.
  • Faculty-led pilots: Empowering faculty members to make decisions about products gives instructors a big-picture perspective.

If institutions want to build greater trust with faculty members, involving them in technology decisions is the surest path. Bringing them into the procurement process will ensure that institutions find not only the tools students need but also the ones that faculty will use.

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