Student Survey Reveals Online Learning Experiences Are Improving

Despite an early learning curve and questions about the effectiveness of distance learning during COVID-19, students have become increasingly comfortable taking online courses and embracing new ed -tech, according to a new study from Western Governors University Labs’ College Innovation Network.

According to a press release, the study solicited input from 1,402 students from Central Ohio Technical College, Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio, Loyola University New Orleans, Northern Virginia Community College, from PennWest California (in Pennsylvania) and Piedmont Community College in North Carolina. . Among the most notable results, 88% of students said they were confident in their ability to adapt to new ed-tech tools and digital learning platforms used in courses, which represents a 5% increase compared to to 2021.

The study noted that 23% more students this year said ed-tech tools helped improve their learning, with the caveat that students “perceive online learning options to be less efficient and of lesser quality than in-person learning,” according to the report. Additionally, around 66% of students said they supported the expansion of online courses and fully online programs, with nearly 20% saying they “still feel negative” about fully remote courses/ on line.

WGU Labs Director of Learning Innovation Omid Fotuhi said the goal of the survey, which is part of their EdTech survey series, is to present a comprehensive view of student experiences. and faculty with remote learning to guide and inform institutional decision-making amid ongoing digitalization. throughout higher education. Based on the results of this survey, the center’s recommendations include increased investments in technical support for students and a reassessment of e-learning implementation to better track student outcomes.

“While there were mixed feelings about the role of technology and the level of trust that comes with the use of this technology which was still relatively low during the pandemic, we actually saw in 2022 that perceptions of access and use of technology improved, which was really a positive outcome,” Fotuhi said. Government technology. “It highlights a couple of things. The first is that as students gained experience using technology, they realized the benefits of having more flexible ways to access their learning.

“It shows that potentially, the introduction of new technologies is getting to a state where the number of technologies that students are expected to adapt and adopt may not exceed what they can digest and handle,” he said. said, adding that students also expressed some optimism about the future of learning.

According to the study, around 40% of college students said they learned primarily online in 2022. While most of these students said they felt more optimistic about remote learning than Previously, the study noted that students aged 25 and older “have more positive perceptions.” online learning” compared to students aged 18 to 24.

Fotuhi added that two- and four-year institutions primarily designed for distance or digital learning have generally fared better, compared to those that still primarily emphasize traditional in-person learning.

“It reveals that you need a little bit of runway for an institution to understand how to really serve students through technology,” he said, adding that many institutions have identified best practices for the online learning and teaching throughout the process of expanding their digital portfolios.

However, adapting to new online learning platforms has proven more difficult for some students than others, according to Fotuhi. The concern is similar among professors in higher education, who have had to adjust their approaches to pedagogy and teaching for digital courses.

“I would say that one of the ideas we’ve seen emerge is that we should think about introducing technology more intentionally, both keeping in mind how much [a student is] and the mental preparation of students, but also from a skills perspective,” he said. “Do students have the means they need to learn and adapt to these technologies?

Chad Knights, vice president of information technology and engineering and academic computing at Northern Virginia Community College, said in a public statement that institutions like his could use the report’s findings to highlight the strengths and address weaknesses to better facilitate online learning as digital and hybrid course models become a new normal in higher education.

“We have found that better understanding our students’ opinions and feelings, regarding technology and the digital environment of the college, has proven to be valuable as it is information that we can use to improve the user experience and guide future projects,” he said. “It also serves as the perfect complement to usage statistics, which alone can only tell half the story.”

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