Open Menu Close Menu


Student Preference for Online Learning Up 220% Since Pre-Pandemic

According to a recent Educause survey, the number of students expressing preferences for courses that are mostly or completely online has increased 220% since the onset of the pandemic, from 9% in 2020 (before March 11) to 29% in 2022. And while many students still prefer learning mostly or completely face-to-face, that share has dropped precipitously from 65% in 2020 to 41% this year.

For its 2022 Students and Technology Report, the higher education IT association polled 820 undergraduate students across the United States about their experiences with technology, online learning, and more. In open-ended responses, students explained the rationale behind their modality choices: Those who preferred face-to-face, for example, desired the social connection and engagement of meeting in-person. Students opting for online cited personal needs such as disability accommodation, family responsibilities, or work schedules.

The survey also asked students about which instructional elements were most important to have available online. Items rated very or extremely important included:

  • Homework assignments (selected by 74% of respondents);
  • Class/lecture notes (72%);
  • Exams (71%);
  • Study guides (69%);
  • Presentation slides (69%);
  • Quizzes (67%);
  • Video (63%);
  • E-textbooks or required readings (63%);
  • Collaborative/shared documents (59%);
  • Class handouts (59%);
  • Recorded lectures (58%);
  • Discussions (52%);
  • Audio (50%)
  • Hands-on engagement with content (44%);
  • Peer teachers/tutors (44%);
  • Group activities (43%); and
  • Office hours/meetings with my instructor (42%).

Notably, 99% of respondents said online access to at least two of the above items was important (slightly, moderately, very, or extremely), and 56% said everything on the list was important (at some level) to access online. Even among students who said they preferred learning face-to-face, every item on the list was ranked very or extremely important by at least 39% of respondents. "These data point to student demand for online instructional elements, even for fully face-to-face courses," Educause stated.

The full report is available on the Educause site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

comments powered by Disqus