Online universities won’t replace traditional models

Expect students to demand that their campuses re-open once this pandemic subsides.

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Columnists

July 10, 2020 - 3:21 PM

Allen Community College

With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of subsiding, it may not be realistic for universities to re-open this fall in any but the most guarded way, if at all. However, once the pandemic does subside, college students will be anxious to get back on campus.

Michael Smith

How things do change. Ten years ago, trendspotters pronounced the death of the brick-and-mortar campus. Online classes were the future, they said. We now have nearly two decades of experience delivering online instruction. Here are a few of the biggest lessons.

First, students who can take their classes face to face prefer to do so. A December 2019 EDUCAUSE poll found that 70% of students prefer their classes face-to-face. Students reported a great deal of anxiety about this spring’s online migration, and some had difficulty completing their semesters in this format. So-called “traditional” college students, who attend college shortly after high school, are particularly adamant in their preference for on-campus instruction. They may be digital natives, but they still crave in-person interaction with their peers and professors. Even some older, “nontraditional” students prefer their courses on campus. Some students may add one online class per semester to their schedules for flexibility, but they are still clamoring for a return to campus after the pandemic subsides.

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