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From increased flexibility to wanting more active learning online, here’s what students say about their fully-remote and hybrid degree programs.

If education is for students, then understanding students’ perspectives is crucial for the future of education.

The widespread preference for online learning represents a paradigm shift in higher education. More students are choosing to learn online than ever before; they want a learning experience that accommodates life outside school.

Class recently hosted a webinar with four students to gain insights into how modern-day students perceive how learning is delivered and their expectations. Although these students attend different educational institutions, pursue distinct academic paths, hold varying job positions, and aspire to different career goals, they all have one thing in common: online learning has become their new norm.

Let’s listen to students at this inflection point in education. Watch the webinar to hear about their experiences, expectations, and feedback for the future of learning online. And read this blog post for a recap.

Student preferences in learning are shifting.

The identity of a student is changing, and flexibility is at the core of what they want.

Students want to learn wherever they are, on their terms. That also means while they are employed. So students today now ask institutions: “How can you best serve me?” And while student preferences for flexibility emerge as a de facto expectation, this preference normalizes the demand for diverse learning options. Institutions must provide choices for learning modalities, including a mix of asynchronous and synchronous options or hybrid, fully remote, and in-person.

“[Before Covid], I thought of college as very linear, but once online became the new normal, I started to see my path differently. The virtual environment has opened a lot of doors for me; I am a student and also get to work with my agency.”

Masters Student,
Wisconsin School of Business

“Almost all the positions I’ve had since being a freshman have been virtual. It’s great to be able to work while at school and have both a learning and working experience.

Bachelors Student,
Penn State University

We need to learn with technology, not from it.

New technology can be intimidating or hard for educators and students to learn. But as the world changes–and new technology emerges–our task is to learn with it, not from it.

“We need to think of ways to give students creative projects and assignments. Then put the skills we’re teaching them to use–versus just what we think of as learning from technology.”

Masters Student,
Mississippi State University

“It’s inspiring to try new things. Students can see when you are excited about a new activity or new technology you’re using. Bring new things to the classroom to excite your students.”

Masters Student,
Wisconsin School of Business

Hybrid learning redesigns traditional classroom workflows.

Hybrid and Hyflex learning environments change how students collaborate. Recent research suggests that 63% of students prefer hybrid or HyFlex education or a blend of in-person and virtual learning. Hybrid learning utilizes a combination of learning modalities, which includes both asynchronous and synchronous learning experiences, either remote or in-person.

“I love asynchronous work called ‘flip learning’ or ‘blended learning’–where you do your prior knowledge work at home. I like reading or watching videos before class, and then when I’m in person, I enjoy discussing and sharing ideas. My favorite thing about hybrid learning is that we can develop our ideas at home and then open our minds to discuss with everyone when we’re ready.”

Masters Student, Mississippi State University

Students want to stay engaged.

Despite the buzz around post-pandemic student disengagement, students want to be engaged in their learning. Listening to students can offer educators and administrators insights into what is working. The students shared a few ideas from their experiences:

Start classes with activities or icebreakers to build community

“The most frustrating thing for me has been when instructors just come in and start teaching. No “get-to-know-you” activities or moments exist, meaning no one talks in class or breakout rooms. Building relationships with students is even more important when you’re virtual. I appreciate class more when it feels like a community learning together.”

Masters Student, Wisconsin School of Business

Make live lectures mandatory to maintain engagement

“I’m constantly researching ways to better engage college students online. Sometimes, the course materials–including video recordings and readings–can be overwhelming. I tend to skim video lectures because they aren’t engaging. If live lectures were mandatory, it would build classroom community and keep students updated on administrative questions.”

Ph.D. Student, Drexel University

Course materials should be adapted for online learning

“My biggest qualm with asynchronous online education is a lack of technical training and course resource adaption. Much research suggests how learning occurs best–and how learning differs online. There needs to be more education for teachers and instructors about creating more engaging resources for learning online.”

Masters Student, Mississippi State University

Breakout rooms should be camera-on and intentional

“Sometimes, when you get stuck in breakout rooms where no one speaks, it’s uncomfortable. I found it helpful when professors have breakout room activities to do and require cameras on. It makes it more engaging and interactive when everyone has their camera on together.”

Bachelors Student, Penn State University

Active teaching styles can make a difference in engagement.

Lecture-based learning may not maintain student engagement online. Instructors breaking through virtual screens use interactive and active learning strategies to make online learning more dynamic.

“Teaching styles are a huge component for overall engagement. A few weeks ago, a guest speaker presented on neuroplasticity. On each side of her presentation, she had something interactive to test our brains. She would put something in the chat, had multiple polls, and would call on students to respond. People loved it. It was so fun and interactive.”

P.H.D. Student, Drexel University

To learn how Class can improve your institution’s remote learning experience for students, visit us at or schedule your demo today.

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About Jamie
Jamie Turak is an Education Content Manager at Class. He's passionate about storytelling and helping to make education more accessible.