What Did Students Think About Online Learning Last Year?

My new survey report shares insights about students’ experiences with EdTech and online learning

In my role as a research scientist for the College Innovation Network (CIN), I’ve come to learn how important the student voice is for both understanding and improving students’ learning experiences. I am a firm proponent of the value of classroom-based learning, but recognize the value of online and tech-based learning when used to enhance human-centered learning, rather than replace it entirely. This past year, however, was a grand experiment in near universal online learning, and I was curious to learn more from students.

In April 2021, I administered a survey to nearly 700 students at four CIN institutions to uncover (1) how EdTech self-efficacy impacted students’ learning experiences over the 2020-21 academic year, and (2) how students’ personal characteristics and characteristics of their college/university impacted their learning experiences with EdTech over the 2020-21 academic year.

The results of the published report, The New Digital Divide: How EdTech Self-Efficacy is Shaping the Online Student Learning Experience in Higher Ed, reveal several key insights into the student online learning experience with EdTech across the previous academic year:

  1. Students’ EdTech self-efficacy is a robust predictor of students’ learning experience, and is associated with a more positive and impactful learning experience over the 2020-21 academic year.

  2. Students at institutions with established online learning infrastructure reported significantly more positive and impactful learning experiences over the 2020-21 academic year.

  3. Foundational EdTech hardware and software are driving the online learning transition in higher education; inequitable access to foundational EdTech can create tech dependencies for new products and exacerbate inequity.

  4. The future is hybrid: Students are looking forward to returning to social activities on campus, but many still want online learning options next year.

Download the Report

Drawing on these insights, I conclude the report with actionable recommendations on how administrators and faculty alike can work to improve the online student learning experience with EdTech moving forward.

I encourage you to download, read, and share the report with your colleagues, if you’d be so kind.

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