Improve digital literacy for professors

Alyssa Ramos, Columnist

Professors at UT carefully construct their courses to provide students with various education-rich online resources. However, some professors don’t supply students with enough information on technology resources due to a lack of familiarity. Digital literacy for professors on campus is an issue that shouldn’t be overlooked. 

In order to improve digital literacy for professors, UT should provide its faculty with more funding and materials to learn programs that would enhance their courses. This would give professors the practice they need to keep up with advancing technology, thus creating a better class environment for students. 

Digital literacy refers to the skills to participate and engage in different media platforms. In Sept. 2021, the Office of Internal Audits for UT Austin issued an online education technology report. While this report focused on the many problems that UT has regarding online education and technology, it also stated that professors lacked digital literacy in their classrooms. 

Even if professors do a great job of incorporating various media into their courses to strengthen class curriculum, that effort is weakened if they don’t know how to use them. The University has helped professors in the past with certain digital literacy aspects. Associate anthropology professor Suzanne Seriff is one of many who received digital literacy trainings for her classroom assignments.

“I would definitely recognize that digital literacy takes time and attention (and) that faculty members are already stretched very far … So yeah, I think it’s important to have incentives for learning how to incorporate digital work into your classroom,” Seriff said. “I think funds for having tech people to work with you in the classroom, to actually do the work, is also important.”

After spending two years learning from the comfort of our homes because of the pandemic, education has evolved to change with advancing technology and unexpected circumstances. Professors had to adapt from blackboards, powerpoints and in-person classrooms to Zoom meetings and online office hours. 

Regardless of if education changes its instructional methods again, professors should be well-equipped for any sort of turnaround by being fluent in digital literacy. The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at UT works with professors and assists them with any sort of needs professors might have. The report also mentions that the CTL should be involved in the efforts to improve digital literacy. 

“The role of the Center for Teaching and Learning is to equip instructors to create effective learning experiences and environments for students,” a spokesperson from the CTL said in an email. “While this can and often includes the use of digital technologies, CTL is only one unit on campus working on digital literacy….by sustaining (our) efforts and starting new ones, UT Austin can make the best uses of digital technologies to better equip instructors and students.”

The University should promote digital literacy for professors by providing funds for training and connecting professors with experts on the programs they’re using. This would allow for professors to enrich their class curriculum overall and improve their communication with students. 

Digital literacy is an important skill for professors to have. Once professors have proficient  digital literacy, it’ll be easier for classrooms to run more efficiently without occasional technological problems. 

Ramos is a journalism freshman from Laredo, TX.