Only 27 per cent of university students in Hong Kong were satisfied with their online learning during the COVID-19 outbreak, and 60 per cent found online learning less beneficial than classroom teaching, a recent survey by the School of Graduate Studies of Lingnan University (LU) in Hong Kong reveals.
The study also notes that over 85 per cent of respondents hope to resume face-to-face teaching supplemented by online learning after the pandemic. The research team suggests that traditional classroom teaching cannot be replaced by online learning at present, but that higher education institutions should seriously consider the role of online learning.
The online survey was conducted between 5 and 12 May 2020, and a total of 1,227 valid responses were collected from students studying in undergraduate, associate degree, higher diploma, Master’s as well as doctoral degree programmes in local higher education institutions.
Only 27 per cent (26.89%) of respondents said they were satisfied with online learning. Students experienced in using online learning platforms were 7 per cent more satisfied (29.63% vs 22.34%) than inexperienced students. However, students’ academic performance in the past have had no significant relationship with their levels of satisfaction in online learning.
It is worth noting that over 60 per cent (62.75%) of respondents felt that online learning is less effective than face-to-face teaching. A higher proportion of students unfamiliar with online learning platforms said online learning was less effective than face-to-face teaching.
Regarding factors that affect the effectiveness of online learning, nearly 60 per cent (59.68%) of respondents were concerned about the “stability of internet connection”, about half (49.55%) said they were affected by no “in-class interaction” and 45 per cent (46.33%) by the lack of “after-class communication and engagement with instructors”.
The three main challenges of online learning were lack of self-discipline (59.98%), a poor learning atmosphere (56%), and eye fatigue due to long screen time (54.77%). In addition, a high proportion of respondents said their studying time (42%) and efficiency (53.71%) decreased with online learning, while their studying pressure increased (48%). Over 85 per cent of respondents (85.57%) hope to resume face-to-face learning, including 65.28% respondents hope to resume face-to-face learning supplemented by online learning after the pandemic.
Prof Joshua Mok Ka-ho, Vice-President of LU who led the study, said the survey reveals that traditional classroom learning cannot be replaced at present. Since students’ familiarity with how online learning platforms operate has a considerable impact on their learning satisfaction, Prof Mok suggests higher education institutions should improve their online learning skills and IT literacy.
He added that course instructors’ IT literacy also affects the quality of online teaching, and suggested universities to provide sufficient support in manpower, hardware, and software to improve their online teaching skills.