Students say the benefits of online learning shouldn’t be given up

In March 2020, students across the country were forced to switch to distance learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. As the pandemic persisted, millions of students continued to learn remotely during the 2020-2021 school year.

Throughout this transition, surveys have suggested strong negative feelings about online learning among students.

According to a July 2020 survey of 13,606 students in the United States by the study guide platform OneClass, more than 93% of American students believed that if the courses were held entirely online, the tuition fee should be lowered. In addition, 75% of those surveyed said they were not satisfied with the quality of the online courses and 35% had considered withdrawing from school.

And a November 2020 survey of 3,500 American students by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators found that staying engaged while learning online was the biggest concern of students – even more than catching Covid-19 or find a job after graduation.

But while vaccines hold hopes of a return to traditional in-person learning, some are calling attention to the benefits of e-learning that shouldn’t be overlooked.

“There is this desire to continue a kind of e-learning,” says Jenny Berg, director of public affairs at market research firm Ipsos. “The students want to go back to campus, but they see the value of this type of learning.

From the recent article by Sallie Mae How America Pays for College According to a report, conducted by Ipsos, 75% of students and their families prefer to take in-person or blended learning next semester, citing difficulties concentrating and collaborating with their peers among their top criticisms of online learning.

However, “black students seem to really enjoy and capitalize on the online learning experience,” says Berg, citing findings that 68% of black respondents and 60% of Hispanic respondents have a positive opinion of online learning. line.

Seventy percent of black students and 54% of Hispanic students say they were also able to learn new content online and in person, compared to 46% of white students.

In addition, some students shared that distance learning has helped them avoid racism and microaggressions in the classroom.

Joy Ma is a rising sophomore at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She started her distance education in the fall of 2020 and her classes were run “asynchronously” meaning they were recorded and not live.

“Honestly my first semester was weird because everything was asynchronous and I wasn’t learning anything new because it was mostly high school revisions,” says Ma, who is Asian American. “It felt like my tuition wasn’t really worth it. And in general, I felt like I wasn’t part of the community, especially since I had just started college – like if I didn’t care a lot about that. ”

During her second semester, Ma was fortunate enough to live in the dorms and take a recitation in person. “It was amazing the first time I was in a classroom,” she says. “I felt like I learned so much in this class and it was just fun walking with my classmates to class.”

Ma says the experience opened her eyes to blended learning opportunities.

“I would love for MIT to do a combination [of in-person and online learning]. Because why would you want to come back? Often times it’s much more convenient to record lessons, “she says.” I’m optimistic about next year, but I’m a little nervous that once everything is cleared in person, schools get rid of it. all. that worked well virtually, and go back to the old way of learning. “

Muriel Doll, an up and coming second-year student at Harvard, says that after a year of synchronous (i.e. live) online classes, she is thrilled to have a “normal” academic year to learn in. anybody. She says that if online learning allowed her some flexibility and the ability to move freely in the classroom, online lessons could become strenuous and ultimately lead to “Zoom Fatigue.”

Still, she says she is not surprised that students of color may have reservations about returning to class.

“It kind of escaped me that I was attending a predominantly white institution this year because I could choose who was on my Zoom screen,” says Doll, who is black. “Most of my friends are people I can relate to, are people of color, so these are the people I mostly saw on campus. We joked, ‘Oh, no, that’s really okay. hitting that we’re like, one in two blacks in a classroom of 50 next year because we’ll actually be sitting there in the room. ‘”

“It will just be very obvious that we are the minority again.”

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