How Does College Students Online Learning Behavior Impact Their Academic Performance

A new study found that students who spend more time online learning programs, were more likely to withdraw from the classroom in their final year.

A quick check of my YouTube channel proves that many college students are obsessed with college video reviews. And the sudden popularity of “smart” YouTubers like Bethany Mota and Lilly Singh suggests that the lecture hall, by which they had no access, might as well not exist.

But video-centric lecturers have some problems too, and researchers from the University of Illinois, Chicago report in Frontiers in Psychology, that we should keep in mind when teaching on-campus to virtual audiences. The situation, as outlined in a recent press release from the University of Illinois, may call to mind the claims about online learning that are decidedly unproven.

Those same researchers detail the psychological concerns raised by virtual students, since they have less than 50 percent of the attention span of their peers, who attend regular classes. Furthermore, virtual students may not receive crucial feedback at times when they would not have otherwise, and they have trouble connecting easily with others who face challenges in their studies. However, while the digital university may not always seem like a good fit for everyone, the researchers stress that virtual learning is absolutely a part of the future of higher education.

And traditional universities should be able to figure out how to effectively “interact” with virtual learners, without becoming alienating or tone deaf. But when is virtual learning expected to take over fully? Hardly a quarter of colleges had developed an undergraduate virtual education program at any point over the last three years, the researchers say, and so the platforms that students are on in place should be designed specifically for them.

The researchers examined how virtual learning varies in cultural contexts, in terms of the technical aspects of collaboration and in the applications of virtual learning, including through text messaging. The researchers used these standards, and reported some of their findings.

“[T]he most common habits of cooperation are mutual encouragement, joint communication, and reciprocal agreement,” the researchers wrote. “Cultural regimes, in contrast, are often characterized by disapproving forms of interpersonal communication. The demands for help are often excessive and the negative rewards are often communicated negatively to the individual.”

In terms of the application of virtual learning, the students, like those in any other situation, have different needs. We should test virtual education strategies across a variety of contexts and experience whether learning processes differ among students with different capabilities and capabilities.

Only one-quarter of undergraduates were in teams or classes, the researchers found, and teams or teams of students can be helpful for analyzing and synthesizing information as part of a virtual learning course. Participants can enhance and support each other’s learning, as well as provide peer support in the form of classroom work or nonacademic activities.

The extent to which students “read” or participate in the materials (online and offline) was similar to peers who have regular classes in virtual learning situations. The challenge to translating printed material (whether on or offline) will be finding a good way to make reading more interactive.

Distributing virtual learning materials among a variety of people (both online and offline) might help increase knowledge of and availability of resources within the community. Given their lower attention spans, most participants will be more successful in this approach. In-person interactive sessions for students with disabilities, or for special needs students, could also be beneficial, as could allowing virtual learners to interact with peers who are not only using the same tools but are also enrolled in the same courses.

As instructors, administrators, academics, and business professionals develop virtual learning opportunities to benefit their students, it will be important to align virtual learning with traditional learning, in creating resources and processes.

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