DIGITAL FACULTY: PROFESSORS, TEACHING AND TECHNOLOGY, 2012

Nearly one-half of college and university faculty members report that digital communication has increased their productivity.

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Nearly one-half of college and university faculty members report that digital communication has increased their productivity. Professors also report that digital communications have increased their levels of creativity, and provide better connection to the scholarly community and to their students. But this comes with a price: They overwhelmingly report that digital communication has increased the number of hours that they work, which translates, too, into an increased level of stress.

Those are among the key findings of a new study by the Babson Survey Research Group and Inside Higher Ed on faculty views on online learning. The study is based on two national surveys, one of more than 4,500 teaching faculty and a second of academic technology administrators. Click here for Inside Higher Ed’s article on the study and links to the report.

Among the findings:

 • Nearly half (48.8 percent) of instructors report that digital communication has increased their productivity and more than half (51.7 percent) think that it has increased their level of creativity. Professors are split on whether digital communication has increased their stress level.

 • The growth of e-textbook options is clear – with over one-third of faculty regularly assigning books that are available in both e-textbook and traditional formats, and another 29.7 percent reporting that they do so occasionally.

 • Faculty members are not rapidly abandoning traditional scholarly publishing outlets to embrace digital-only publication. Only 5.2 percent say they regularly publish digital scholarship (beyond publishing an online version of a traditional scholarly paper), and another 11.9 percent report that they do so occasionally.

 • When asked if online-only work is given the same level of respect in tenure and promotion decisions, faculty overwhelming said that it is not, but many faculty members believe that such work should be given the same level of respect in tenure and promotion decisions: a majority either agree (33.3 percent) or strongly agree (24.1 percent).

 • The majority of faculty receive between 11 and 50 work e-mails per day, with a smaller group dealing with between 51 and 100, and about 6 percent seeing over 100 per day. A majority of faculty report that they respond to at least 90 percent of all student e-mails within 24 hours.

"As is true for most of us, most college faculty members are finding their work lives dramatically changed by technology, and this survey gives us insights into how they’re adapting," says Doug Lederman, editor of Inside Higher Ed. “The answer is very well in some cases, less so in others.”

For more information about the study, please contact Editors Doug Lederman  or Scott Jaschik .

Financial support for this project was provided by CourseSmart, Deltak, Pearson and Sonic Foundry.

The Babson Survey Research Group in the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson College conducts regional, national, and international research projects, including survey design, sampling methodology, data integrity, statistical analyses, and reporting. Visit Babson Survey Research Group online. 

Inside Higher Ed is a national online publication and jobs service for all of higher education. The site's 1 million unique monthly visitors and 94,000 daily e-mail subscribers count on Inside Higher Ed for authoritative news coverage, insightful commentary, helpful career advice, and a vibrant jobs service with roughly 7,000 positions advertised.


By Barbara Spies Blair, blairb@babson.edu, 781-239-4621 | 08/24/2012 06:00