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Digital shock? Facilitating tech transitions for international students

International students may require more support for ‘digital shock’ and not just culture shock, according to new research from Jisc.

A survey across 14 HE institutions and 2000 international students in the UK has found that some students are facing challenges transitioning to technology-enabled learning (TEL). Some of these challenges included authenticating user accounts, accessing their university’s system outside of the country, and a lack of subtitles or captions on recorded lectures.

Opinions of TEL were on the whole positive, with 73% of respondents agreeing that digital learning was at the right level and pace for them. When asked if their university supported them to improve their digital skills, an average of 66% agreed, with opinions ranging from between 40% and 82% dependent upon institution.

One key finding was that many students were used to unreliable Wi-Fi in their home country, so would instead use mobile data to access the internet. Upon entering the UK, they were still relying on their mobile data despite the free Wi-Fi available at their institution. As a result, they were incurring additional and unnecessary charges for data usage.

Students have requested some further support, including dedicated time at the start of their course to learn about digital platforms and resources. Others have expressed a desire to receive more training in how to use TEL effectively. Further recommendations from Jisc include:

  • Provide information on how to access the internet on and off campus, including eduroam.
  • Advise students on what digital platforms, resources and apps are available to them.
  • Ensure recorded lecturers have clear audio as well as captions.

Senior sector specialist at Jisc, Elizabeth Newall, has said:

‘We hope institutions will feel inspired to use our findings to inform both strategy and practice, providing more tailored support for international students to smooth their digital border crossings.

‘With a commitment to inclusivity and a primary focus on equitable results for international students, we have the potential to forge a digital learning experience that caters to all students.’

You can read the full report here.

Image courtesy of Tim Gouw
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