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Always available: Effects of digitalization on academics’ well-being

Three students studying together on a laptop.
During the COVID19 crisis, technology was being used at an unprecedented scale in education, generating significant changes in teacher’s work. Despite the numerous benefits of digitalization, the excessive use of technology can also imply risks for academics’ well-being.

Digitalization versus excessive use of technology: what are the effects?

Delivering teaching and conducting research online, building “smart” classrooms and campuses are some of the trends of digitalization. Although ICT significantly improves collaboration, it also requires continuous efforts from academics and university. It requires skills training or changes in the organizational setting to sustain engagement and well-being.

Although digitalization has numerous benefits, it also has a dark side. The extensive use of technology increases digital fatigue, cognitive load and technostress. It also affects well-being at work and home, also for students. This trend is common in European universities, and it can be easily inferred from everyday teaching practices and teachers’ attitudes.

Addressing teachers’ needs and challenges to promote digital well-being

Need for support. Teachers are puzzled by the extensive offer of digital tools and lack of information on their purposeful use; they feel overloaded with the switch to online education without adequate support.

Work engagement. Switching to online teaching has been challenging for some: not all teachers know how to transfer their lessons to the digital environment. These difficulties negatively affect the teachers’ self-efficacy, well-being and work engagement.

Digital fatigue: The experience of online teaching led to the extensive use of digital methods. The pressure to learn new things, uncertainty with the lack of support resulted in upskill fatigue.

Promoting digital well-being eases the inclusion of digitalization more as a job resource than a negative effect, leading to the integration of digital skills in the teaching routines, increased collaboration between teachers and students or between teachers, increased productivity, and satisfaction.

Exchanging knowledge and best practices

Universities around the world are engaging in digital transformation. Since higher education institutions deal with the same challenges and are looking for solutions simultaneously, the opportunity for sharing and exchanging knowledge and best practices is crucial.

Partnerships could bring the possibility to share examples of good practices and enhance the development of new methods leading to a smoother transition to digitalization. They could also help increase peer learning and collaboration and decrease discrepancies between countries and institutions.

About the author

Ana-Maria Cazan is an associate professor and vice-dean for research, IT and didactic activities at the Transilvania University of Brasov, Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences. Her research interests focus on well-being, technology acceptance, self-regulated learning and academic adjustment. She is also the representative of Romania in the Standing Committee on Psychology in Education of the European Federation of Psychologists’ Association. 

Twitter: @ana_cazan Linkedin: Ana-Maria Cazan

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3IN blog offers perspectives on Inclusion, Integration and Involvement. The writers come from the alliance of diverse higher education institutions across Europe, sharing a goal: a world where no one is left behind.

The core purpose of the 3IN Alliance, and our ambitious long-term objective, is to co-create an innovative European University. Read more from our website.

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