But in the last couple of decades, since the introduction of online instruction in higher ed, students now expect a much wider range of options — a collection of novel approaches, inconceivable before the digital revolution, including participating online in breakout rooms, joining online study groups, watching recordings of class sessions posted later for study and reflection, and more.
Surveys of remote college students show that their top priorities are convenience and flexibility. After all, about 70 percent of online students work, while in the wider college population, only about 40 percent are employed.
Many depend on accessing course resources and lessons seamlessly from online textbooks or other digital resources. Others find it enriching to participate in online chat and polling. Those who live in remote areas of the U.S. or in disadvantaged countries abroad that lack robust broadband options depend on mobile devices to participate online.
Remote students also want the kind of services their on-campus peers get — robust academic and technical support, job-ready curricula and links to employers. And just like those on campus, they’re eager to win scholarships and receive financial support.
Many students expect their online courses to be completely on-demand (what’s known as asynchronous), so that they can tune in as they carve out time between jobs and other life responsibilities. A survey of online students conducted by Wiley found that 69 percent preferred asynchronous classes in fully online programs, with no requirement to visit a campus.
But a different survey of students published in Frontiers of Education concluded that college students prefer real-time interaction online (known as synchronous instruction) such as showing up on Zoom to a class held at a specific day and time together with other classmates
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