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Leading adult education through support for and the effective application of technology.


Instruction: Face-to-Face, Online, or Both?

Posted on 12/18/2019

Empty lecture auditoriumImage by Bonnie Taylor from Pixabay

Have you taught and/or taken an online course before? Do you have a preference for one or the other? The results of two surveys regarding face-to-face and online instruction are in, one polling college students and a second polling college instructors, and there is still a preference among teachers and students for face-to-face instruction, although online instruction is definitely a viable option and is making inroads in education.

Overall, about 70% of students polled preferred completely or mostly face-to-face instruction, and a slightly higher percentage (about 73%) of instructors polled also preferred completely or mostly face-to-face instruction. Even among those with a preference for face-to-face, though, about half expressed an interested in blended instruction, meaning some combination of face-to-face and online interaction. When students were asked about individual activities, students overwhelmingly preferred attending lectures, labs, demonstrations, student presentations, and faculty/student conferences in person, but were open (25% or more) to submitting homework and assignments, and even taking quizzes, exams, and tests, online.

When the surveys looked at the characteristics of student respondents, it appears that those students who we would readily identify as typical adult education students expressed more of a preference for mostly or completely online instruction as opposed to the overall results. The survey administrators surmised that online instruction is more appealing to students who don’t have the same flexibility in scheduling and attending classes that a typical college student does. So, those students who work 40 or more hours per week, are married or are in a domestic partnership, are age 25 or over, and/or are independent with dependents all were more open to completely or mostly online instruction than the average student.

When we look at our adult education classrooms, we should explore incorporating online instruction into our practice, even in bits and pieces. We might find that our students are more open to it than we think. If you would like ideas on how to integrate technology into your instruction, please contact OTAN for ideas and training on this topic!

Article: Most Students and Faculty Prefer Face-To-Face Instruction, EDUCAUSE Surveys Find from EdSurge

Report: 2019 Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology from EDUCAUSE

Report: 2019 Study of Faculty and Information Technology from EDUCAUSE

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.