by Catherine Man
Without the comfort of being able to interact face to face with students in a classroom, it takes more time for participants in an online course to learn about each other. Faculty leading online courses have little sense of who the students are until they start submitting course work or unless they willingly disclose aspects of themselves. Online students typically have even less information on their classmates.
Annual surveys administered by the Hostos Office of Educational Technology ask students to share information about themselves and shed light on who the college is educating online. In a Spring 2018 survey, 144 students who enrolled in an online course during the semester reported on their experience as online students.
The majority of respondents:
identify as female (83%);
identify as Hispanic (61% )
are adults in the age range of 21-30 (54%)
speak more than one language (75%)
have children (52%)
Almost 44% are the first in their families to go to college. Twenty-nine percent did not have prior online learning experience, which is a significant decrease from 42% in 2017.
The school’s online courses make it possible for more students to study and earn credits towards a degree while meeting other demands in their lives. Asynchronous courses that are largely self-paced offer students the flexibility of studying around busy schedules. The vast majority (94%) report participating in their courses from a home computer. Many of the survey responders chose to take online courses for these reasons:
31.5% cite work and family commitments as the main reason for choosing online instruction
20% could not find a suitable traditional on campus version of the course
15% prefer the convenience and/or independence of being an online student
Most of the findings confirm that online instruction support the school’s goals of serving a greater breadth of students and of meeting their needs. For more detailed breakdown of the 2018 survey results, please see this infographic. Faculty who are interested in teaching online for the first time can contact the Office of Educational Technology to find about more about Online Initiative training program.