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Responding to Technological Change: IT Skills and the Academic Teaching Profession

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Active Learning in Higher Education Volume 5, Number 2, ISSN 1469-7874


Six academics in a new university were seconded to the role of part-time learning technology support. It was necessary to have an informed view of the IT skills level of all academic teaching staff. A selfassessment questionnaire was designed based on the core competencies in the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL). The results were used to offer a targeted pilot of a new online learning training method. Results showed considerable diversity in the range of IT skills. Over half (55%) of the staff could not use a range of IT software at a prescribed benchmark level. Staff were more likely to be skilled at word-processing and Internet tasks (average score above the benchmark) and less likely to be competent with presentations, spreadsheets and databases (average score below the benchmark). Staff working in science-based subjects tended to score higher. As a result of the survey, some staff were offered an online basic skills training programme. Staff liked the flexibility of this, but also found that they needed personal support and encouragement. It is necessary to raise the profile of IT skills and to argue for their relevance. A range of training opportunities is needed that will assist the needs and motivations of staff. Staff prefer training that they see as relevant to their subject area and professional context. Online software skills training does not provide a single solution, but can add an additional method that will appeal to some learners.


Haynes, P., Ip, K., Saintas, P., Stanier, S., Palmer, H., Thomas, N., Reast, G., Barlow, J. & Maillardet, F. (2004). Responding to Technological Change: IT Skills and the Academic Teaching Profession. Active Learning in Higher Education, 5(2), 152-165. Retrieved November 20, 2019 from .

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