online learning

Students discuss whether they prefer online learning or in-person learning.

For the past nearly three full semesters, Iowa State students have been thrown into a combination of in-person classes as well as primarily online ones. 

Based on how the pandemic evolves, this will likely continue for the foreseeable future. 

Students have a mixture of opinions regarding their preference for learning format and what they feel is more conducive to learning at a collegiate level.

Asynchronous, and even synchronous, online courses take away much of the social interaction and connections students are typically accustomed to, with both classmates and professors.

But have students noticed this missing piece, anxiously awaiting the day all classes are in person, or do they prefer the more independent learning style online courses provide?

“I prefer in person because it feels more hands on and allows you to easily communicate with those around you and clarify things with the professor,” sophomore marketing major Jake Poncelet said.

This seems to be a common feeling among many students.

In a poll taken from the Class of 2024 Facebook page, 447 out of 597 voters said they would rather have in-person courses than online. 

“Connection is what a lot of students are seeking and I think the online environment can make it hard to make those connections,” Assistant Director of Academic Coaching and Outreach Adriana Gonzalez-Elliott said.

Others, particularly those taking nonmajor-related classes, see a positive aspect that comes from online education.

“If it’s synchronous in person it is ideal, but it is nice to have asynchronous do-at-your-own-pace courses for some of the easier gen eds and filler classes,” senior psychology major Kyrie Schut said.

Questions regarding the effectiveness of online learning at a college level of education still remain, and researchers haven't come to a clear consensus as to whether in-person learning or online learning is more beneficial for students. Ultimately, it may be up to each individual student what learning style is better for them.

“This is an unusual time for students, and in terms of online learning, we have seen some students really thrive and prefer this delivery. For students who find the delivery challenging, our office tries to offer solutions to some of the challenges students might face,” Gonzalez-Elliott said.

For those struggling with time management or a lack of productivity, the Academic Success Center recommends using the Pomodoro Technique

“This technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 20 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. This technique helps students manage distractions and keep track of time. It can also help increase motivation and accountability to complete tasks,” Gonzalez-Elliot said.

There are also a variety of study apps that can help students keep themselves focused and efficient when it comes to online learning. The Academic Success Center specifically recommends the Be Focused - Focus Timer app, the Engross app or the Pomotodo app.

Students who feel they need additional help adjusting to online classes can contact the Academic Success Center for tutoring, coaching and supplemental instruction.

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