Online classes have become commonplace for college students, but as COVID-19 restrictions continue to be lifted, students regain the choice of how they want to experience their education.
The pandemic shifted the landscape of education across the country, with classes moving from in-person to online and forcing students and colleges to adapt quickly. Two years later, students say they have adjusted to this new norm.
When asked by The Globe about their opinions on which class type was more popular and if they plan on returning to in-person classes, several Utah college students expressed their enthusiasm to be able to go back on campus again.
Eric Rodriguez, a Salt Lake Community College psychology major, said he thinks in-person classes are more appealing to students. Rodriguez said he has been taking classes primarily online since the pandemic began and is looking forward to returning to in-person classes.
“In-person classes are more popular than online classes, especially after recovering from a pandemic that required everyone to have online classes,” he said. “Humans crave social interaction, and with [classes] online, we lack interactions with peers and professors.”
Gabriel Santana, an electrical engineering major at the University of Utah, said he feels in-person classes are the most popular because people can better connect with their peers.
“People like to socialize and meet people at school,” he said, noting he also thinks the face-to-face environment is more conducive to learning. Santana said he plans on returning to a mix of in-person and online classes, but only a limited amount as work takes up most of his time.
Inside Higher Ed reported that in fall 2019, the last semester unaffected by the pandemic, 63% of 20 million enrolled college students took no online courses, while the remainder enrolled in at least one online course. The following year, due to virus lockdowns and restrictions, nearly 73 percent of students took only online courses.
In a 2020 article from MSUToday at Michigan State University, students asked an expert about the advantages and disadvantages of enrolling in online classes. Christine Greenhow, an associate professor of educational technology at MSU, said online learning can be as productive and beneficial as in-person classroom learning.
“Research has shown that [if done right then] students perform better than those receiving face-to-face instruction,” she said.
When it comes to the disadvantages of online learning, Greenhow noted there is “inadequate access to the technology and social infrastructure needed for virtual education.”
“Used well — online chat, discussion forums, replayable video lessons [and] online meetings … offer tremendous opportunities to make students more engaged (and accountable) compared to time-strapped classrooms where students hide and few hands shoot up,” she said.
While there are pros and cons to both forms of education, students should pick the model that best fits their lives, learning style and other commitments, according to a blog post by National University.
“A feature or requirement that’s beneficial for one student might be disadvantageous for another, making it crucial to evaluate both options thoroughly,” the post reads.