Over 230,000 students and more than 24,000 staff from 34 of Ireland’s higher education institutions now have an opportunity to take part in the Irish National Digital Experience (INDEx) Survey, Ireland’s first survey of the digital experience, expectations and engagement of students and staff who teach in Irish higher education. The survey was officially launched today (Monday 14 October 2019) at The Light House Cinema, Dublin.
Latest figures from the Higher Education Authority show the number of students in Irish higher education has climbed to a record high, with almost 250,000 people studying a higher education course last year. Ireland is now the EU member state with the highest proportion of school-leavers progressing to higher education. This increase in student numbers is taking place within a rapidly changing technological environment which can strongly impact on the experience and outcomes of higher education for both staff and students. Yet no national dataset currently exists as to the influence of technology in higher education. Findings of the INDEx Survey will help institutions to better understand how students and staff interact with digital technologies in their teaching and learning and will inform their decisions, policies and practices related to digital technologies as they endeavour to support the success of all students.
The INDEx Survey is being co-ordinated by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, in collaboration with every university, institute of technology and several private colleges in Ireland. Running until 1 December 2019, the INDEx Survey will help Ireland’s higher education sector capture crucial data that will inform the ongoing implementation of the National Strategy for Higher Education 2030 which identifies digital teaching and learning as a key priority. Institutions can choose a three-week window within which to run their INDEx Survey on campus.
The launch included a journey through the decades of technology in higher education, with students from the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s and 2010s sharing their experiences of the latest technologies when they were in college. Students, staff, senior managers, and representatives from around Ireland also explained why the INDEx Survey is important and they hope everyone contributes.
Dr Terry Maguire, Director of the National Forum, commented:
“The National Forum is delighted to co-ordinate the INDEx Survey in partnership with 34 higher education institutions. The remarkable response from institutions to the invitation to take part in the Survey reflects the strong commitment of leaders across the sector to enhancing the digital experiences of their staff and students. In recent years, universities, technological institutions and private providers have all prioritised the need to keep pace and engage optimally with digital technologies and we, at the National Forum, are delighted to be in a position to facilitate this unique opportunity. The national dataset will also allow us to benchmark Ireland against other higher education systems around the world. Digital is a key medium of teaching and learning and, thanks to the INDEx Survey, Ireland will soon be better positioned to nurture the potential of its current and future students and to assist those who teach them.”
Speaking to launch attendees via digital broadcast, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Minister of State for Higher Education, welcomed the INDEx Survey. She said:
“The digital transformation will unlock enormous pent-up potential within our businesses, bringing with it new growth and creating new jobs – many of which don’t exist in 2019. We know technology and innovation are among the key drivers of change for Irish higher education. All those who share their digital experience by contributing to the INDEx Survey will help to shape that future.”
The INDEx Survey’s national launch took place with student and staff representatives from all participating higher education institutions, as well as representatives of the Department of Education and Skills, the Higher Education Authority, the Higher Education Colleges Association, the Technological Higher Education Association and the Irish Universities Association.
You can follow the INDEx survey on Twitter: @INDExSurvey or get further information from www.teachingandlearning.ie/index.