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Results from the CIDDL Needs Assessment: How Can CIDDL Help?

Authors: Samantha Goldman and Cheryl Lemke; info@ciddl.org

In the spring of 2023, CIDDL conducted a needs assessment to determine how we can best support faculty, as per our mission statement. CIDDL focused our research on three main questions. We will address the third question in this blog post by sharing our findings and discussing the implications.  To learn more about the participants and methodology, read the introductory blog of these series. We addressed the first and second questions in previous blogs.

The final question guiding our needs assessment was “how can CIDDL be most responsive to their needs?”. To answer this question, data were analyzed from the 77 higher education participants. Of those, 51% were faculty in colleges of education and 25% were graduate and postdoctoral students. The remainder  were other members of higher education including department chairs and faculty from other departments. The majority of respondents were from public institutions (77%), with 31% from Minority Serving Institutions. They included professionals in the areas of special education, general education, early intervention, and related services. 

For this final question, CIDDL’s goal was to make the data actionable. We hope to answer the question of “so what?” and provide our stakeholders and community with CIDDL plan to respond to these needs. Data were broken into three categories: faculty preference, barriers in achieving digital readiness, and emergent topics of interest. Finally, we will discuss the implications of these findings and the next steps for CIDDL.

Faculty Preference

Participants in the survey were asked about their learning preferences for accessing CIDDL products and services. Data were analyzed based on type of participant (faculty or graduate student) and overall. The most popular method of learning for faculty was through asynchronous online courses, available 24/7 (61.5%). Graduate students were most interested in learning through experiences in simulations (78.9%). Reading an online article was the least appealing to graduate students (21.1%). Faculty were least interested in exploring through gaming (21.2%). The following table shares the results of this question. 

Barriers in Achieving Digital Readiness

Perceived barriers to achieving digital readiness included: reporting a lack of time to plan and redesign for technology integration (83%), reporting a lack of knowledgeable faculty members in the field to support the use of educational technology (72%), and reporting a lack of understanding of how technology can be used to support students with special needs (59%).

Emergent Topics of Interest

Participants were asked to identify the policies and practices related to educational technology in pre-k through 12th grade that were of high interest. It should be of no surprise, given its recent boom, that 81% of participants were interested in policies related to the use of AI. CIDDL has been hard at work to meet this need, with a series of blogs focused on just this topic. Additionally, 73% of participants reported high interest in better access to research on what works in educational technology.

Implications and Next Steps

These data indicate a need for CIDDL to provide products and services personalized for our stakeholders that address the gaps in faculty knowledge and skills, while building the capacity of departments to systematically increase digital readiness, policies, and practices. This need is guided by an evolving vision of research, innovation, and sound instructional practices. 

Based on the needs assessment data, CIDDL will work to organize resources into courses within the CIDDL community, develop a A Higher Education Digital Readiness Analysis, which will guide Institutes of Higher Education toward innovative and informed digital readiness, and focus resource development on areas of interest identified from this needs assessment. These areas include (1) policies and emerging practices in the use of artificial intelligence in special education, early childhood, and applied services, (2) research on what works in educational technology, and (3) research-based integration of technology into sound instructional practices for faculty development. 

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