Faculty Technology Use in Teaching: Results from a Recent Landscape Survey


Faculty Technology Use in Teaching: Results from a Recent Landscape Survey

We asked MSU faculty what technologies they use in their teaching, and how they learned about them – here’s what they said.

By Jessica L. Knott, Learning Design Manager, MSU IT and MSU Hub

This post discusses the findings of the recent technology landscape survey that was sent to instructors at MSU. Further, as MSU looks toward the future and how work in the fields of teaching and technology are evolving, this post seeks to begin a conversation about development and support methods that best support the students, faculty, and staff at MSU.

In response to requests from the campus community for resources that help identify educational technologies that faculty and students are using across campus, the Hub Technology Working Group developed a survey to act as the first step toward creating this resource. The survey was sent to all instructors on campus, and 373 responded. The Colleges of Natural Science, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Arts and Letters, Natural Science, and Human Medicine saw the most respondents. The departments with the most respondents were the School of Social Work, MSU Extension, Linguistics and Languages, the School of Criminal Justice, and Writing, Rhetoric, and American Culture.

Survey Findings

Generally, faculty use a variety of tools in their teaching, and for the most part find them useful. They sometimes struggle knowing what kinds of support they need, or how to find it. Patterns indicate that faculty select technologies that expand their classroom beyond the physical space, connecting themselves and their students virtually. Technology specifically as a means of content creation is not as common.

Summary of Findings – How do instructors find out about technologies they can use in their teaching?

Most instructors find out about new technologies they can use in their teaching from talking to colleagues in their department and across campus, as well as campus instructional technology support. They also attend conferences and follow social media outlets to inform their knowledge on teaching with technology. More than any other means, faculty learn about technology options from other faculty, both inside and outside of their departments. Their contact with instructional support staff is less frequent, likely contributing to their frustrations in finding out what technology and support options are available.

Challenges and questions:  

  • How can instructional support providers effectively reach faculty who need assistance and don’t know where to find it?
  • How can we as an institution equip instructional support staff to provide information within their departments?
  • What is the best way to reach faculty influencers with updates and information?
  • What platforms can we provide for them to share their knowledge with other faculty?
  • How can we work as an institution to reward good teaching?

Summary of Findings – Learning Management System

Instructors on campus overwhelmingly use D2L as their learning management system (85.6%), and communicate with students using e-mail (96.21%), D2L messaging (58.45%), and Zoom (36.86%). Feedback about the learning management system and communication is mixed, however, with some saying it is very easy and intuitive and others saying it is way too difficult for them to learn and use effectively.

Challenges and questions:

  • How should MSU provide support for the learning management system and other teaching tools, in addition to the help pages, help desk, and training sessions?
  • What do these resources look like to you? Are they web-based? Videos? Printable handouts? Other formats?


Summary of Findings – Student response tools:

Many instructors report that they do not use student response tools in their classes (32.43%). Of those that do, responses are largely collected using the surveys and polls feature in D2L (26.7%), followed by SurveyMonkey (22.07%) and Google Forms (17.44%).


Challenges and question:  Student response data is being collected using a number of different methods, which means MSU student data is spread across a number of platforms, which may or may not communicate back to a central university repository. Further, this distribution of tools may mean that students are paying twice for student response tools in their courses. For example, a student enrolled in three courses could hypothetically have to pay for an iClicker, a Top Hat subscription, and use D2L. Two of these cost money, collected separately, for similar services.


Summary of Findings – Video, Media, and Collaboration

The most frequently used text collaboration tools were Google Docs (49.32%) and Microsoft Office (33.51%). Video and media use was mixed among survey respondents. While video collaboration saw mixed use with 46.03% of respondents reporting that they did not use video collaboration tools, the most frequently used tools for video collaboration and communication with and amongst students were Zoom (40.27%) and Skype (21.92%). Most respondents (56.67%) noted that they do not capture their lectures, but those who did most frequently used Camtasia (22.78%) to do so. Similarly, most respondents noted that they do not create videos for their courses (46.09%). Those that did, however, again used Camtasia (27.65%) or the webcam built into their computers. The creation of interactive materials was rare, with 76.83% of instructors responding that they did not do so. Those that did mostly used Camtasia or custom programming such as HTML5, AJAX, and Jupyter Notebooks.


Challenges and question:  The use of live video collaboration tools could introduce accessibility difficulties into the course experience.

  • How should we discuss the accessibility question?

As we move toward a unified learning design strategy and conversations about next generation learning environments, how would you like to continue this conversation?