For years, advocates for online learning have bemoaned the fact that even as more instructors teach in virtual settings, professors’ confidence in the quality and value of online education hasn’t risen accordingly. Inside Higher Ed has documented this trend in its annual surveys of faculty attitudes on technology going back over most of the 2010s.
Some hoped that by thrusting just about every faculty member into remote teaching, the pandemic might change that equation and help instructors see how virtual learning might give students more flexibility and diminish professors’ doubts about its efficacy.
A new survey finds that COVID-19 has not produced any such miracles: fewer than half of professors surveyed in August agree that online learning is an “effective method of teaching,” and many instructors worry that the shift to virtual learning has impaired their engagement with students in a way that could exacerbate existing equity gaps.
But the report on the survey, “Time for Class COVID-19 Edition Part 2: Planning for a Fall Like No Other,” from Every Learner Everywhere and Tyton Partners, also suggests that instructors’ increased — if forced — experience with remote learning last spring has enhanced their view of how they can use technology to improve their own teaching and to enable student learning. The proportion of instructors who see online learning as effective may still be just under half — 49 percent — but that’s up from 39 percent who said so in a similar survey in May.