Fujitsu Research Maps Out Road to Digital Learning
- Schools, colleges and universities have big aspirations for digital learning, but more than half struggle to keep up with technological change
- Lack of resources and skills are slowing down the adoption of new technology to support more personalized and interactive teaching
- Around eight in ten schools are still having to invest in basics such as network connectivity and school laptops
Bangkok, July 17, 2017 – Digitalization means the education sector is undergoing deep transformation, but many schools, colleges and universities are struggling to keep pace with this change, according to ‘The Road to Digital Learning’, a new report from Fujitsu. This provides unique insights into the state of digital education globally and is based on a survey1 of over 600 IT leaders in schools, colleges and universities across seven countries.
While educational institutions have high aspirations for using digital solutions to make learning more personalized, interactive, and collaborative, many told Fujitsu they are slowed down by the complexity of the task, hindered by old IT systems, and frustrated by a lack of resources. Most schools have a long way to go before being ready to invest in advanced technologies such as cloud-based study apps, virtual or augmented reality – recognizing that they must put the right foundations in place and address staffing skills gaps.
The vast majority of educational establishments acknowledge the role technology plays today in supporting children’s education and creating equal opportunities. As many as 94 percent think that personalized learning is ‘important’ or ‘very important’, and 84 percent feel a duty to prepare their students for a digital future. At the same time, schools, colleges and universities find themselves under increasing pressure to meet parents’ and students’ expectations, and remain competitive: More than three quarters (77 percent) hope to become digital centers of excellence in the next five years. But, in many establishments, digital learning is still far from being a reality: Some 87 percent of primary and secondary schools still do not provide any devices to pupils, and where they do, on average one device is shared by three children.
Teachers are struggling to keep up with digitally-savvy students
While they have ambitious goals for digital learning, over half (51 percent) of survey respondents admitted it is difficult to keep up with technological change. This is not surprising: Educators have a huge number of challenges to master, including the balancing act between increasingly digitally-literate students, and their teachers, who are generally considered to be less digitally-savvy, according to survey results. While more than half (54 percent) of respondents rated the digital literacy of their students and pupils as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’, an overwhelming 91 percent agreed that improving the digital competency for teaching staff was a priority for the next 12 months. In many cases, this means educators will focus on getting teachers ready to embrace digital learning methods and solutions, plus enablers such as cloud technology.
A large number of educational establishments are also struggling with complex infrastructure challenges. Poor network connectivity and unsuitable legacy hardware and software are a headache for many educational IT departments, as is trying to find the right mix of devices, infrastructure and apps. Less than half (46 percent) of respondents think they have the best possible devices to support their digital learning goals, with devices easily broken or damaged through student use, and hampered by limited or non-existent in-built security.
Balancing levels of access and security is a priority for 97 percent of IT leaders in the education sector, and nearly nine in ten schools acknowledge the need to focus on reviewing or improving the reliability and robustness of devices and systems. However, limited IT budgets and resources are holding over half (54 percent) of institutions back. Budgets are currently mainly being invested at a foundation level. For example, 87 percent want to invest in their wireless networks over the next 12 months.
Ash Merchant, Director of Education at Fujitsu, says: “Digital technology brings so many opportunities to education, including more personalized learning and progress feedback, self-initiated learning with anytime, anywhere access to additional resources, and enhanced collaboration between students, teachers, and parents. Connectivity, simplicity, and security are key for this, but as our survey shows, many educational institutions are struggling with these foundations. Often they are also challenged in securing the necessary funding, and making a case for digital learning with a demonstrable return on investment. We want to help schools, colleges and universities by removing these complexities. It’s not just about providing technology and devices, but about supporting teachers and students to get the most from new technologies, and to prepare students for the digital workplace. At Fujitsu, we believe strongly that if we want to prepare our children for the digital future, we have to close the digital learning gap – and we can only achieve this if we all work together and there is ongoing collaboration between the technology industry and education.”
1 Fujitsu surveyed 602 respondents from a mix of state and privately funded primary schools, secondary schools, colleges/further education establishments, and universities across seven countries: Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The research asked IT leaders in educational establishments about their digital ambitions, the challenges they are facing, the opportunities they see and their spending priorities. The survey, which took place in March/April 2017, involved a combination of telephone and face-to-face interviews and was conducted by an independent research institute on behalf of Fujitsu.
The research paper will be available for digital download from Fujitsu from late June.
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