After learning remotely for multiple semesters, most college students still prefer in-person learning, but a growing number of students want to see a mix of in-person and online learning post-pandemic, according to a new report.

Top Hat’s “3,052 College Students on the Good, the Bad, and Learning Post-COVID” field report found that college students want different technologies and digital content incorporated into their courses even after the pandemic.

According to the study, 54 percent of students said they prefer to learn primarily in person once it’s safe to reopen campuses. However, 46 percent said they would prefer to retain some elements of online learning.

Eighty-four percent of students said the top element of online learning they wanted to continue incorporating into their education post-pandemic was the ability to access learning materials, lecture presentations, and assignments in one place.

The second most popular element of online learning was viewing lecture recordings (75 percent), followed by the flexibility to attend classes in person or virtually (59 percent), attending office hours with instructors virtually using video conferencing (49 percent), and lastly working with digital course materials, such as lecture slides, online homework assignments, and readings (43 percent).

“The pandemic has brought forward a slew of challenges. But by increasing exposure to digital teaching tools and active learning practices among faculty, it has also offered the seeds for change,” the report says. “Flexibility has become an increasingly important theme. It’s unsurprising many students want to see elements of online learning carried forward post-pandemic. To improve access, providing a wider range of options—including blended, hyflex, and online learning—will allow institutions to cater to the evolving needs of today’s students.”

The study found that almost one-third of students experienced challenges with accessing the technology and resources required to support learning. Therefore, the report recommends higher-education institutions invest in “high-quality, interactive digital courseware to reduce the costs of materials and make learning as valuable outside the classroom as in.”

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