Learners favour online courses to avoid socialising and crave more innovative technology

A NEW independent survey among more than 1,000 UK adults who have completed academic or professional courses during the pandemic has found:    

  • 45% said they prefer online learning because they do not have to socialise 
  • 62% added that online learning is much more convenient than in-person learning 
  • However, 39% believe their longer-term career prospects will be worse because they received some or all of their education digitally 
  • The majority (56%) crave more innovative and engaging technologies 

Learners are favouring online tuition because they do not have to interact with their peers, despite the challenges that come along with remote learning models, new research from Soffos.ai has revealed.  

The global producer of AI-powered EdTech solutions commissioned an independent survey among 1,086 UK adults, all of whom had undertaken educational or professional courses since March 2020. It found that just under half (45%) of those surveyed prefer online learning because they do not have to socialise with other people face-to-face. 

The majority (62%) said online learning is much more convenient for them than in-person learning. This figure rose to 76% among the PhD students surveyed, while 67% of those studying towards professional qualifications also expressed that online courses were a better fit for their lives. 

However, Soffos’ research also uncovered serious concerns. Almost half (47%) of learners said the quality of education they received diminished after the onset of the pandemic, as a direct result of the shift to online learning. A further 39% voiced fears that their longer-term career prospects will be damaged due to receiving some or all their education online.   

When asked about the specific challenges associated with online learning, 54% said that skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving are harder to develop in remote settings. Similar numbers (53%) stated that online discussions and debates are less effective than ones held in person, with 51% saying they feel less creative when learning online, as the format is typically more structured. 

Looking ahead, the majority (56%) of learners believe their institution should work on developing more innovative and engaging technologies to improve their learning.  

Nikolas Kairinos, CEO and founder of Soffos.ai, said: “Online learning has become an introvert’s haven throughout the pandemic, and this is a truth we can all empathise with, to some extent or another. After all, learning from the safety of our own homes at a time of global crisis has provided students with flexibility and vital education continuity – not to mention some much-needed peace of mind. That said, the merits of peer-to-peer learning and in-person instruction should not be understated, nor should educators overlook the challenges students face when learning remotely. 

“Education means more than just reading books or ticking off assessments. These are important, but learners must also have access to a range of opportunities that allow them to flex their creative muscle, engage with fellow students in spirited debate, and, more generally, prepare themselves for the world beyond academia.  

“Institutions should therefore prioritise the development of advanced digital solutions that take these more complex needs into account. Only then will we be able to keep up the impetus for online learning, so that students can reap the benefits in life after Covid-19.”  

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