Uni students prefer online learning: study

The survey was carried out in August and involved more than 500 postgraduate students across Australia.

Colette Rogers, head of the national education practice at Deloitte, said the message for universities was that students do not want to go back to the old ways of learning when conditions return to normal.

“The pandemic has improved postgraduate students’ perception of digital learning. For universities the future is probably blended, a mix of face-to- face learning and online.”

Ms Rogers said the report was intended to guide investment by universities and showed they could afford a greater focus on technology.

There were some anomalies – more of the face-to-face students reported that their qualification helped them get a job than was reported by fully online students.

This was probably because most fully online students were based in remote locations, which affected their employment chances.

And evidence from earlier Deloitte studies reinforced the importance of human interaction and the experience of being physically on a campus.

One of the surveyed students said: “I generally prefer to study on campus so I have access to all my lecturers, but I actually do all my best study at home. So my online learning experience hasn’t been that different to on-campus study.”

Ms Rogers said the study was based on postgraduate students but it sent a broader message about the need for flexibility around the workplace.

“This report points to the benefit of blended learning that is online and face-to-face. And that’s a flexibility Australian workers are looking for in their jobs. It’s about the need for flexibility in delivery models.

“Students want flexible assessment, they want to pause, restart, re-engage. Workers are the same.”

A report in May from the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at Melbourne University said online teaching was contingent on good interaction: between teachers and students, between one student and another and students being able to interact with their teaching materials.

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