McGraw-Hill Ryerson: Study Shows Importance of Web-based Tools Increasing in Canadian Colleges and Universities

February 22, 2001

OTTAWA, Ontario — An independent study sponsored by McGraw-Hill Ryerson revealed that the importance of websites, e-learning software and other Web-based instructional tools has increased dramatically in Canadian higher education institutions and is a significant factor in achieving student success.

“This study revealed that while college and university teachers continue to emphasize traditional objectives such as critical thinking and acquiring knowledge and still rely on traditional methods to achieve those objectives, the growing importance of instructional technology cannot be denied. This study confirms that instructional technology will show a greater increased significance in the near future, especially in the way courses are delivered.” said Petra M. Cooper, president, Higher Education, McGraw-Hill Ryerson.

McGraw-Hill Ryerson sponsored the independent study, entitled “Technology and Student Success,” to provide the higher educational community with information around the use of technology in Canadian colleges and universities and its impact on student success. It was released today at an educational technology conference at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.

Conducted in 1998 and again in 2000, the study showed that 53 percent of faculty members considered using instructional technology to help them achieve their student success objectives as extremely important or very important. This result was a 22 percent increase over the previous survey.

The study showed that College faculty are convinced that the of technology-based educational tools, such as e-learning software, websites and online collaboration tools will play a significant role in their work. E-books, or digital textbooks, were cited as one of the major tools with nearly half or more of the participants ranking all of the given features of e-books as highly important. Sixty-six percent of the respondents believe that e-books will be less expensive than traditional textbooks. Faculty members also cited advantages of e-books including instant updating capability, ease of customization and usability, and improved communication with students.

The study data shows that when rating the importance of the Internet in achieving teaching objectives, two factors are generally inversely related: the higher the value faculty places on an objective, the lesser the value they place on the Internet’s role in achieving it.

Course websites, however, are becoming a fixture with Canadian post-secondary educators. More than half of the respondents have a Website for at least one of the courses that they teach. University faculty are significantly more likely than college faculty to have a course website. Lecture notes and quizzes on websites were ranked most important by 75 percent of respondents, followed by content specific links and communication, respectively. Developing and maintaining course websites is the most time intensive activity with 86 percent of participants saying that they are likely to devote more time to the web in the future.

Most faculty members surveyed rely entirely on face-to-face instruction with only 1 percent doing all their teaching online. Of the 54 percent of participants currently using course websites, only 23 percent also use commercially available course management system (CMS) software, including McGraw-Hill’s PageOut, the leading system offered by a publisher.

The study also revealed challenges for instructional technology. The first challenge facing faculty in using instructional technology is lack of support. The two largest obstacles blocking their progress with technology are support for integrating technology into current curriculum and support for hardware and software. The second challenge is the lack of awareness about available technologies and lack of information about technology as a teaching tool. The next largest is access to up-to-date hardware, software and connectivity, both for themselves and for their students.

This study was sponsored by McGraw-Hill Ryerson and conducted by an independent research organization. In addition, a Technology and Student Success Advisory Board made up of leading teachers, administrators and researchers participated in the study. In an effort to partner with educators, and as a contribution to the Canadian higher education community, McGraw-Hill Ryerson welcomes the opportunity to raise the level of dialogue surrounding the impact of technologies on learning.

McGraw-Hill Ryerson publishes and distributes educational and professional products in both electronic and print formats. These products are designed to fulfill the individual needs of customers by providing effective and innovative educational and learning solutions. Based in Whitby, Ontario, McGraw-Hill Ryerson is operated independently, in close cooperation with various divisions and international subsiduaries of its majority shareholder, The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

To order copies of the study report, contact McGraw-Hill Ryerson Customer Service, 1-800-565-5758, or e-mail your request to