A new survey looks at the role socialization and preparation played in online learning experiences in higher education

Students, faculty weigh in on online learning experiences

A new survey looks at the role socialization and preparation played in online learning experiences in higher education

A majority of students and faculty say they believe the COVID-19 pandemic will radically and permanently transform higher education, according to a new survey about online learning experiences during the pandemic.

Eighty-three percent of students believe their higher-ed experiences will be permanently changed, and 89 percent of faculty believe the same about their role.

Related content: 5 ways to get back to campus with safety in mind

The survey from RingCentral takes stock of students’ and instructors’ views of online learning up to this point, and also examines views about the fall semester.

Forty-three percent of surveyed students who were enrolled in institutions that were not fully online before COVID-19 say they think their online learning experiences thus far have been only “somewhat” effective.

Just 8 percent of students say their online learning experience was “very” effective. When it comes to value, 45 percent of students believe their online learning experiences were “somewhat” valuable and 15 percent believe they were “very” valuable.

Faculty are somewhat more optimistic about online learning experiences, with 52 percent saying they believe online learning was “somewhat” effective for students, and 15 percent saying it was “very” effective.

Fifty-nine percent of faculty say their students are less engaged with online learning–47 percent say they are somewhat less engaged and 12 percent say they are much less engaged.

A large part of why students feel the way they feel about their online learning experiences could be due to the missing social factor:

  • 92 percent say socialization is vital to their higher-ed experience
  • 74 percent agree that without the social experience, college is not as meaningful
  • 47 percent say socializing is the biggest thing they miss about in-person learning
  • The lack of social connection is rated the most challenging part of online learning, with 64 percent saying it is a challenge and 23 percent saying it’s the most challenging

Fifty-three percent of students say their institutions did try and replicate non-academic parts of school, usually with video conferencing events. Of those students, 59 percent say their school was at least somewhat successful.

Students and faculty also identified areas for improvement and looked at online learning’s potential for the future.

Eighty-six percent of faculty and 62 percent of students believe increased online learning options should remain in higher education after the pandemic.

Sixty-four percent of students and 58 percent of faculty believe the online experience would be better with more time to prepare–more so than any other improvement.

Sixty-one percent of faculty feel that lack of preparation to move lessons online was challenging and 29 percent say it is the most challenging.

Students want more interactive assignments (57 percent) and replication of the in-person experience as much as possible (57 percent) to improve the online experience.

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Laura Ascione