Guest article written by Patrick Merfert, Director of Demand Generation at VideoBlocks
Over the past decade, digital media production and consumption has increased exponentially, permeating our daily lives and unlocking new ways to communicate, teach, learn, and work. With the ascent of digital media and related technologies, universities recognize the need for helping students achieve digital literacy standards and prepare for 21st-century careers.
The question is no longer whether universities should work toward curricula that embrace digital media. Rather, it is a question of how educators can best incorporate digital media resources and digital literacy competencies into their courses.
The 2016 State of Digital Media in Higher Education Survey, conducted by VideoBlocks EDU, examined topics critical to today’s universities, including digital literacy, digital media usage and access, and copyright compliance. The survey gathered insights from more than 300 current educators, administrators, and students that represented more than 200 universities including the University of Pennsylvania; Johns Hopkins; Brown University; University of California, Berkeley; Wake Forest; and New York University.
Digital Media – The survey found that 91% of faculty and 76% of students agree that including digital media in course materials improves engagement, yet only 20% of faculty reported using digital media in all lectures, and 18% said they rarely or never use digital media in the classroom.
Access to Digital Media Resources – The findings suggested that a lack of university-provided resources was a primary culprit of low usage rates, with 44% of faculty and 30% of students saying that their universities could provide better digital media resources.
Digital Literacy – As a result, there is a major disconnect between both students and faculty on digital literacy standards. Forty-five percent of students believe that they are highly literate, with only 14% of faculty agreeing.
Similarly, half of faculty see themselves as highly literate, with only 23% of students agreeing.
Copyright Compliance – Thirty-one percent of students rated themselves as either very or extremely knowledgeable about Copyright/Fair Use policies. However, only 5% of faculty rated their students similarly, while 23% of faculty said their students were not knowledgeable about the topic at all. Additionally, 32% of faculty say that their university enforces digital copyright policies too little and 21% of faculty respondents never verify copyright compliance of students’ work. Only 45% of students check their own compliance either half of the time or less and 13% admit to using copyright-protected digital media for coursework.
Frustrations with Digital Media – When faculty were asked to describe their biggest frustrations with digital media and related technologies, they listed learning how to use it—including finding the time to learn and ineffective training. Posed with the same question, students expressed frustration with lack of access to digital media on/off campus, with many stating that many of the necessary resources are either unavailable or can only be accessed from select computer labs on-campus.
Faculty and students agree on the positive impact that digital media has on learning outcomes and student engagement in the classroom. Correspondingly, both groups use more digital media for education-related endeavors than in years past.
However, the overall adoption of digital media in course materials and in student assignments still lags due to two key barriers: a lack of support and university funding for digital media resources, and a lack of training or time to learn about new and existing resources. In turn, these barriers contribute to the overall lack of access that students and faculty have to digital media via university-provided resources.
Given this lack of access and support, digital literacy levels among both faculty and students suffer, while perpetuating a disconnect for both groups between externally rated digital literacy competency and self-evaluation. Moreover, students who lack the adequate digital media resources often turn to using copyrighted digital media. This improper use of copyright-protected media is further aggravated by a lack of copyright/fair use education, as well as by a lack of copyright enforcement at both the faculty and university-wide levels.
Despite these current challenges, higher education has come a long way since the advent of digital media. The feedback from both educators and students is encouraging, with an overwhelmingly positive sentiment regarding the impact that digital media can have in educational environments.
Looking to the future, administrators, educators, and instructional designers need to work collaboratively to support and promote digital literacy, while universities need to provide adequate funding and support for digital media resources. Finally, to speed adoption, digital media resource providers should strive to not only provide better training resources, but also build simplicity and intuition directly into their products and user interfaces.
You can download the full 2016 State of Digital Media in Higher Education Report here.