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Majority of Faculty More Positive About Online Classes Now: Survey

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Over half (51 percent) of faculty at higher education institutions are more positive about online classes now than they were before the pandemic, according to an ongoing series of surveys conducted by statistical research firm Bay View Analytics, in partnership with four online learning organizations.

A total of 71 percent of faculty surveyed said their mode of instruction in fall 2020 was “markedly different” and included a “number of changes” while nearly 47 percent hoped those changes remain post-pandemic.

The survey, conducted across 967 institutions and among 1,702 faculty, shows a gradual transition in faculty views since the full-throttle move to remote instruction last year. 

While higher education instructors were working hard to get a grip on new technology and revamped syllabi last summer, fall 2020 showed they were becoming “agile and adaptable” to online methods of teaching, lead researcher and director of Bay View Analytics Jeff Seaman said. “The change forced faculty to implement new teaching styles, many of which they intend to continue post-pandemic.”

Additional Findings 

With higher acceptance of online learning, there has also been a surge in the use of digital materials. While only 25 percent of institutions made considerable use of digital materials pre-COVID, today the number has risen to 71 percent.

This has made it easier to increase the amount of online homework and courseware systems from 22 percent before COVID to 58 percent now.

As schools and colleges began shutting down last year, faculty and administrators were forced to adopt new methods of teaching. While there have been ongoing debates about the efficacy of online learning, the recent survey shows educators are more welcoming of the new changes and believe the post-pandemic academic system will be markedly different to that which was in place before the pandemic.

However, administrators want more institutional support. Less than a quarter of them expressed satisfaction with the level of professional support they have been receiving. With nearly half of faculty expecting these changes to remain after COVID is gone, they want better tools and technologies to tackle remote learning.

The survey conducted in December reflects the views of instructors and educational leaders. A fourth and final installment of the survey will be released this spring and will incorporate students’ views of their learning experiences during COVID.

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