A recent nationwide survey of higher education students found that a plurality of students prefer online asynchronous classes over other learning options, helping illuminate the changes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to learning.
The survey and corresponding white paper – conducted by education technology company Anthology – featured responses from 1,165 higher education students from community colleges, trade or vocational schools, private four-year institutions, and public four-year institutions.
The survey found that 37 percent of respondents prefer fully online asynchronous learning, compared to 28 percent that prefer a mix of online and in-person classes, 21 percent that want fully online synchronous classes, and just 13 percent that prefer fully in-person classes.
“There was consistency across institution types, so institutions should review opportunities to create more online course options given the results of this survey,” the white paper says. “Online courses are potentially even more important for non-traditional students, with about half of students over 25 years old reporting this to be the preferred method of course delivery.”
Asynchronous classes allow students to complete the coursework on their own schedule, with no set meeting times. The option had popularity not just across the board, but particularly among community college students – of which 45 percent said this was their preferred method of learning – in addition to students over 25.
In addition to pushing students towards online learning, the COVID-19 pandemic has also had a profound effect on the mental, emotional, and financial wellbeing of students.
A majority of respondents, 55 percent, said the pandemic had affected their mental or emotional wellbeing. Forty-three percent of respondents reported facing challenges financing their education. Others reported concerns with completing their degrees, paying back student loans, or housing and food insecurity.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has, to some degree, impacted almost every single aspect of higher education,” the paper says. “Students enrolled at colleges and universities across the United States are unfortunately not an exception to the negative impacts of the pandemic.”
As schools look to include more online courses, they also need to be aware that some students are facing technological barriers as well. However, just 17 percent of respondents reported an issue accessing the technology necessary for their studies.