The results of a learning house recent study reveal what online students think about their programs and how online educators can work towards better meeting student needs.
The Learning House, Inc, in collaboration with Aslanian Market Research, have been conducting in-depth research on the experience and viewpoints of online college students since 2012. These reports have been crucial in revealing how online education has grown and evolved in past years as well as illuminating the path for online educators to continue refining their programs to meet changing student needs.
The survey results of the study, “Online College Students 2017,” are based on the responses of 1,500 current, former and prospective fully online college students.
At University of the People, we continue to take an interest in the results of these reports as they help us better understand our student community and continue evolving and striving to provide the highest quality education possible.
Here are 4 of the key findings of this study, which stood out to us as relevant to current and prospective students of University of the People:
1. 57% value engagement with classmates and instructors
Number one among these findings was information about class interactions. While many might assume that online learners don’t value interaction with classmates (and hence chose an online college), the opposite of this is true.
The study found that 57% of survey responders value engagement with classmates and instructors, 76% want more access to instructors and 25% want more facilitated engagement with classmates.
At University of the People, our educational model is built on direct, facilitated interaction between students and their peers as well as with instructors. Students are able to engage with fellow learners from all over the world, evaluating and aiding them in their work and actively building an academic community of distance learners.
2. 40% use their smartphones for most or all of their course-related activities
We all know how important mobile technology has become in the past decade. Having webpages that are mobile-friendly has become of vital importance to large commercial ventures, and is apparently of utmost importance to online universities as well.
According to the study, 40% of responders reported using their smartphones for most or all of their course related activities. This is a key piece of technical information for online educators.
Part of our mission at University of the People is to make higher education as easily accessible as possible to the greatest number of individuals. This means ensuring that our coursework can be accessed easily on any device, including computers, laptops, tablets and mobile devices.
3. Most students use the career services
Online learners tend to be independent, self-motivated individuals. For the most part, they arrive to their studies already having a clear idea of what they want to study and what they want their careers to be. For a career focused student community, it is important to offer career services.
According to the study, 3/4 of students have access to career services at their institutions. A whopping 77% of those who have this access make use of these services, and the majority of those who don’t have this access report wanting career services at their institutions.
At University of the People we understand that the education we provide has two equally important purposes. The first is to help students develop themselves academically and intellectually. The second is to provide them with tools that will help them in their future careers.
For this reason, we offer a wide range of career services including job search assistance, internship opportunities, help with writing resumes and cover letters, and mentorship programs to help students define their goals and create action plans to achieve them.
4. 76% report that their online programs have helped them achieve their goals after graduation
One of the most important results of this study is the section on student satisfaction with their online learning experiences.
While online colleges and universities have become more popular in recent years, many still worry that online students don’t get as much from their courses as they would from classroom courses.
The data collected in this survey reveals how far from the truth this notion actually is. 83% of responders reported that their satisfaction with courses was equal or superior to past college-level, classroom experiences. Almost 3/4 of responders deem their online programs to be worth or extremely worth their time and money. Most important of all is that 76% report that their online programs have helped them achieve their goals after graduation.
For us, this is the most relevant piece of data. At University of the People we want all of our students to have a great experience that will help set them up for bright futures. We regularly check in with past students to see how their time studying with University of the People has benefited their lives and careers.