The ability to view lectures at any time of day has been the most advantageous part of online learning for students and should remain part of university education, according to the latest THE Student Panel survey.
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Asked to list the three greatest advantages of studying online, 45 per cent of respondents who have had some teaching delivered online in the past 12 months said it was viewing lectures at any time of day, followed closely by 44 per cent citing the ability to continue studying during the pandemic and 34 per cent naming the ability to study at their own pace.
The online survey of 2,217 current students and prospective students who are part of the THE Student Pulse panel conducted between 13 July and 5 August 2021 included individuals from more than 120 countries applying to institutions in 91 countries around the world.
Overall, 85 per cent of those surveyed agreed that access to recorded lectures should remain available whether teaching is conducted in-person or online.
Despite warm feelings towards the flexibility that recorded online lectures offered, students still generally prefer studying in person. Just over half (53 per cent) said they didn’t enjoy the online study experience as much as an in-person equivalent, and 41 per cent thought it was lower quality than if it had been delivered in-person.
Given the scenario of their institution announcing that all teaching would be delivered online (similar to what occurred on many campuses at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic), nearly three-fifths of surveyed students (58 per cent) said they would be disappointed.
Difficulty socialising and making friends, trouble accessing university facilities, including labs, and lack of field trips were also downsides of online learning, according to students. Half of students felt that their chance to build a professional network at university would suffer because of online learning.
However, when it came to equipping them with the skills necessary for their career, 46 per cent of students agreed that online learning provided that, a result that might suggest that they gained or sharpened the digital skills needed to excel in a modern workplace while learning online.
Benefits of online learning vs classroom learning, according to the THE Student Pulse panel
- Flexibility of the schedule
- Working at your own pace
- Watching lectures back on demand
- Career skills development
The most important factors of a university’s location, according to the THE Student Pulse panel respondents
- Access to educational facilities and institutions (libraries, laboratories, other universities and so on) (69 per cent)
- Safety of the location (55 per cent)
- Job opportunities in the local area (55 per cent)
With many students embarking on a new university semester, THE Student surveyed more than 2,000 of them for their views on the benefits of online learning versus classroom learning