3 Ways Students Feel Better About Online Learning
Students say online learning is improving, but they also think they learn less effectively during technology-enabled virtual instruction, a new survey reveals. Here are the 3 ways their perspective on online learning is changing:
- In 2022, students are reporting “substantial improvements” in the overall online learning experience and are confident they can learn to use new ed-tech tools.
- Younger students believe they learn less effectively online, which means campus managers have to deal with perceptions of lower quality. Students over 25 say they learn as effectively online as they do in person.
- Students are happy with how colleges and universities will launch online and hybrid programs in the future, but are less enthusiastic about taking online courses themselves.
These are the key findings from the CIN EdTech Student Survey 2022 conducted by the College Innovation Network at Western Governors University. Digging deeper into these three big takeaways, the survey found that fewer students reported having problems accessing edtech tools in their courses.
Students also increasingly expect their schools to provide academic support, career advice and even some online social activities. “Institutions have made many improvements to students’ technological learning experiences since the 2020-2021 academic year, but there remain areas of innovation,” the report said.
Evolution of online learning
One of the big lessons from the MOOC craze of the early 2010s is that simply pairing digital content with assessments isn’t a recipe for success for many students, says Chancellor David Andrews from the University of Massachusetts Global (formerly known as Brandman University).
Strong digital content and faculty who can deliver it are essential, but institutions must also ensure that online and hybrid students have access to academic coaching and other supports outside of the classroom as demand for them grows. distance learning is increasing, adds Andrews.
“Even in face-to-face universities, students continue to gravitate toward a combination of online and in-person,” he points out. “If you’re a working adult and you have to choose between traveling to a fixed location on a fixed schedule or being able to learn on demand, you have no choice.”
This puts more pressure on administrators to meet the individual needs of remote students. UMass Global, for example, has a body of counselors who help students learn time management skills and balance schoolwork with work and family. Thanks to these interventions, the institution has one of the highest retention rates in the online industry, even though the average age of its undergraduate students is 35 and almost all of its students are working, says Andrews. .
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“Instead of waiting for someone to ask for help, we have proactive indicators that they’ve disengaged and we reach out to them to get them back on track,” he says. “Our population needs to be encouraged and supported in a much more holistic way.”
Most UMass Global students enroll to learn new job skills, change careers, or for other workforce-related reasons. This has led the institution to prioritize employee-supported tuition programs, one of the fastest growing components of online and adult learning. UMass Global works with one of the largest hospital networks in the state to provide master’s and bachelor’s degrees as well as smaller micro-degrees.
“Planning is as much in the control of students as it is of faculty members,” concludes Andrews. “Online also allows you to have a pool of talent across the country that can meet the needs of students.”
Advancing Online Learning
Identifying students struggling with edtech early is one of the keys to improving the online experience, the College Innovation Network survey recommends. About a quarter of students surveyed said they had trouble learning to use edtech, while more than a third said they had used new technologies in the past year.
Colleges and universities can provide training on campus-wide technology, such as learning management system, email, and other communication channels. During the first week of a course, teachers should survey students about their skill levels and confidence in using education technology.
Additionally, college leaders must assure students that virtual courses are designed around science learning standards to build confidence in the value of degrees earned online.