If students went their own way, blended learning would be here to stay

Students overwhelmingly in favor of pursuing blended learning, global study finds investigation.

For many students, the Covid-19 pandemic was their first lasting experience of online learning, as shutdowns forced universities around the world to cancel face-to-face teaching.

And having taken a liking to it, it seems that the vast majority of students want to continue enjoying the benefits of online education.

But many will be disappointed, as a significant minority of universities plan to return to a model where the person is the only option, at least in the short term.

More than two years into the pandemic, more than half of students (53%) said it continued to affect their education, according to a survey of 5,000 students and university leaders around the world .

Just over a third (36%) interrupted their studies or reduced the number of courses they were taking, while one in five (20%) changed majors and 7% changed universities altogether.

Almost seven in 10 people (69%) said they fear the pandemic will affect their careers, while around a quarter (27%) said they fear it will be more difficult to find a job after graduation. their degree.

But a divide has grown between students and university leaders over the future shape of higher education.

Students showed a clear preference for pursuing at least some online learning, according to the survey by educational technology company Anthology in partnership with United Nations education body UNESCO.

More than four in five students (82%) said they want at least some of their class meetings to take place online, with two in five (41%) preferring learning entirely online, with no in-person elements .

Less than one in five (18%) wanted to resume classes entirely in person.

But among higher education leaders, almost a third (30%) said their university only offered classes entirely in person, even if this figure was expected to decrease to 15% by 2025, which closely matches student preferences, although too late for many of them. college now.

University leaders in North America were most likely to say they expected to offer fully in-person classes in 2025, although students in North America were among the least likely to prefer fully in-person learning in person.

Only one in five university leaders (21%) said they plan to offer courses fully online by 2025.

While nearly two-thirds of students (63%) said they wanted all of their courses to have an online element, less than half of university leaders (46%) expected this to be the case. 2025.

“As universities continue to drive digital transformation, they face new hurdles in everything from course delivery and support services to accessibility and how they equip their students and their people with technology,” said Jim Milton, president and CEO of Anthology.

“We believe that technology plays a vital role in shaping the future of higher education across the world, and the results of this study validate that view as leaders consider the impact of technology and data on the overall student experience.”

The survey covered approximately 2,700 students and 2,500 university leaders from around the world, including the United States, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and India.

But while universities may be lagging behind their students in their vision for the future of learning, there is no doubt that the response to the pandemic is reshaping education.

Hybrid or blended learning has been heralded as the future for some time, never breaking into the mainstream.

But the massive shift to online learning at all levels of education – while not always a smooth transition – has caused a sea change in attitudes so that what was once considered marginal to the core business of teaching has now become a very high expectation, and not just among university students.

Norma A. Roth