The research on Online learning in higher education has been primarily focused on the social and communication processes that occur within such environments. Although extensive work has been done to conceptualize these processes, little is known about how these constructs relate to subject-specific interactions. Nevertheless, the literature does provide some insights into the social aspects of online teaching and learning, including the role of teachers and students, and the development of an online presence. Future research should focus on these factors.
In order to assess the overall quality of online learning, students were asked to complete a post-course survey. The average level of agreement with statements about the online learning environment was used to determine general perceptions of the program. Overall, most respondents reported that the interaction with the instructor motivated them to complete assignments, and that the online learning platform was easy to use. However, this type of survey is not representative of all online learning environments. In addition to general perceptions, researchers have yet to fully understand how online learning affects different students.
The sudden change in the way students learn and engage in higher education presented many challenges to educators and students alike. For example, students who study remotely must ensure they have reliable access to a computer. Students may be sharing a computer with younger siblings, or their home internet bandwidth may be limited. Ultimately, this can create a performance bottleneck and cause students to experience less than optimal outcomes. Nonetheless, some students might benefit from the flexibility of studying from home, while others may want to try true online programs to explore how these technologies can improve the learning experience.
The research on online learning in higher education suggests that it can improve student outcomes and enhance student motivation. As a result, online learning has been hailed as the solution to the problem of lack of quality higher education in Sub-Saharan Africa. Research has shown that online learning can increase students’ motivation, self-esteem, and an engagement, which ultimately improve the quality of learning. However, there are a few challenges to overcome in order to make online learning more effective.
Although the use of online technology in higher education has accelerated the pace of the conversion process, the technology can create problems for instructors and students. Instructors may not have the bandwidth to adapt their courses if they had planned to teach using a traditional classroom format. Fortunately, online course designers are capable of reimagining interactive learning for an online environment. If they can’t adapt the course content, their students will. They may not even be able to grasp the concepts being taught.
In addition to the technical challenges, online learning in higher education can create problems related to the development of soft skills. These skills are critical for a college student’s employability and developing them in a virtual environment is more difficult. However, online students can overcome these challenges by engaging in the learning environment and participating in it. Using these strategies, educators can increase the engagement and participation of students in their studies. They may even be able to engage with their online courses more, thereby improving their performance.
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