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Here’s what students actually want to see from EdTech

By Soffos Team
February 28, 2022

When it comes to education, one-size rarely fits all. Whether it’s high school students who require individualized support to boost their reading ability, or sales consultants who need a helping hand delivering their pitches, we all learn in different ways and deserve personalized support to reach our goals.

This is a consideration that every organization should have at the top of its agenda when investing in or creating solutions targeted at education and development. Thankfully, Artificial Intelligence (AI) stands to make a huge difference in the delivery of unique, personalized and high-quality education programmes.   

The past couple of years have been an important experiment in this regard, as educational institutions and businesses alike have grappled with new learning solutions. They have put new tech to the test in a genuinely meaningful way throughout the pandemic. Since then, we have seen an increase in the uptake of online courses and a shift to hybrid models of work.

So far, there have been some mixed results, and just a couple of weeks ago, we were weighing up whether hybrid learning initiatives have lived up to expectations throughout the pandemic. In short, we concluded that EdTech has done a stellar job at filling the void left behind by in-person instruction throughout the pandemic, and you can read more about this here. However, that is not to say that solutions do not require improvement if they are to have a long-term impact.

Remote learning is here to stay – but it must get better first. To find out more about what students themselves want to see from EdTech, we commissioned an independent survey of over 1,000 learners of all kinds – from PhD students to those studying for professional development qualifications. They had all undertaken some form of educational course since March 2020.

Here is a sneak peek at the findings…


Learners are shying away from in-person learning – and convenience is key 

One of the more intriguing findings from the research was the fact that 45% of those surveyed said they prefer online learning courses chiefly because they do not have to socialise with their peers face-to-face.This was particularly surprising, given the rallying criesto return to in-person tuition in the media, and more generally, the many benefits that can be gained by studying in a physical classroom.

Clearly, many students are set in their pandemic ways when it comes to their learning and favor the security of their own homes – but this was not the only reason cited by respondents when asked about their preferences.Elsewhere, 62% of the learners surveyed added that online learning is simply much more convenient than in-person learning.  

This was perhaps less surprising, given that the flexibility and wellness benefits of hybrid work have been widely reported throughout the pandemic. This figure rose to 76% amongst the PhD students surveyed, while 67% of those studying towards professional qualifications also expressed that online courses were a better fit for their lives.  

As educational institutions typically trade in knowledge, information and intelligence, learners are becoming increasingly aware that these skills can also be transferred in virtual contexts. It is becoming increasingly clear that this is a conviction shared by both higher education learners and those in the world of work.


What’s missing? Learners want real innovation

Learners also voiced their concerns about the quality of education delivered throughout the pandemic. Worryingly, almost half (47%) of those polled said that the standard of learning provided by their institution or employer diminished after the onset of the pandemic, as a direct result of the shift to online learning. A further 39% fear their longer-term career prospects will be damaged due to the fact they have received some or all their education online – a very concerning prospect indeed, especially for new graduates. 

Missing out on the provision of key soft skills, such as problem solving and critical learning, was a concern for54% of learners, while similar numbers (53%) also stated that online discussions and debates are less effective than ones held in person. Interestingly, 51% said they feel less creative when learning online, as the format is typically more structured. 

So, where do we go from here? For the majority (56%), the answer lies with more innovative and engaging solutions to improve their learning – and that’s a statement we can get behind.

Interested in learning more? We’ll be releasing more details on our research soon, so sign up to our newsletter here to stay posted on the latest Soffos news.

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