Listening to teachers: a qualitative exploration of teaching practices in higher and further education, and the implications for digital

Lanclos, Donna; Phipps, Lawrie; Clay, James; Chapman, Damian; Davies, Sarah; Elliott, Marcus; Preater, Andrew and Thomson, Chris. 2019. Listening to teachers: a qualitative exploration of teaching practices in higher and further education, and the implications for digital. Project Report. Jisc, Bristol. [Report]

CI_Report_Lanclos_-_Phipps.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (6MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

To bring about lasting changes around the use of technology to support teaching and learning in colleges and universities, we need to understand the practices that teaching staff undertake and the challenges they face. Effective, sustained change comes from a place of working in service to pedagogies. This report captures the findings of our recent work to develop a thorough understanding of the practices of teaching in colleges and universities.

Our starting point
A Jisc co-design project in 2016 was the starting point for a consultation to gain a richer understanding of what next generation digital learning environments might look like. In a wide-ranging and in-depth consultation we asked questions that focused on the potential of technology, the range of activities that staff currently undertake and what activities they would like in the future. The resulting report, next generation [digital] learning environments: present and future focused on many of these areas, providing a baseline of current and emerging technology-based practices.

During that consultation many contributors raised questions about how behaviours of staff working in learning and teaching have changed since the first widespread deployment of virtual learning environments (VLEs) and other educational technologies in the 1990s. As it’s our mission to continue to provide solutions, advice and guidance on the use of technology to support learning and teaching we must remain focused on what the sector needs and wants from digital learning environments.

This imperative is the driver for the current report. We wanted to develop deeper understanding about practice around learning and teaching with the aim of gaining insights beyond the technology-led.

We’ve captured the voices and experiences of teachers in higher and further education, drawing on senior and junior teaching scholars across a broad range of academic disciplines. From more than 22 hours of interviews and several workshops we’ve distilled a series of themes and ideas for future development. The authors have provided indicative quotes from interviewees in the text rather than a comprehensive catalogue.

We used a contextual inquiry approach. This is a process whereby individuals are interviewed about their practices in an open-ended format and within a particular frame designed to find out what they do, what their motivations are, what personal history contributes to these practices and how they are impacted by current macro- and micro-contexts. This is standard practice in user experience research, especially at the beginning of design processes, and it is valued in particular for being distinct from ‘lab’ investigations of behaviour that are distanced from the context in which people habitually do their work.

In what follows, we describe the motivations for the contextual inquiry project and the themes that have emerged, and then explore the implications of some of those themes for Jisc’s next generation digital.

Item Type:

Report (Project Report)


Next generation digital learning (NGDL), Next generation digital learning environments (NGDLE), Contextual Inquiry, teaching, teaching and learning, learning, learning and teaching, digital, student, students, teachers, student experience, lecturer, higher education, further education

Related URLs:

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



1 March 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

13 Apr 2023 14:32

Last Modified:

14 Apr 2023 08:33


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)