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Moving from Classroom to Online Learning

Sarah Powell
By Sarah Powell, Quality and Equality Manager LinkedIn
Workspace with a computer and note pad

Sarah Powell is the Quality and Equality Manager at Kaplan, and spoke to 500 of our students who’ve had to transition to Live Online - literally overnight. Here is their feedback.

We were aware that Live Online is a very different learning experience for those who were used to the classroom. But as we all know, we had no choice.

So following this unprecedented shift, we wanted to find out what students thought. As most of those we surveyed didn’t choose to study online, we felt it was important to quickly identify areas for improvements.

I’ve always avoided online study, favouring the classroom, but this is significantly better than I expected. I’m likely to continue studying this way, going forward.

Student feedback

The main questions we asked were:

- How would you compare your learning experience of Live Online with face-to-face classes?

- How easy are you finding it to concentrate and study at the moment, alongside other commitments?

The feedback can be categorised into the below themes:

Pace

Many students thought the speed of delivery was faster than in the classroom, or at least that was their perception.

We were also made aware that many of our students are juggling home-working with other family commitments, so concentration may not be as easy as in the classroom environment.

The key message for students is that if they are finding the delivery too fast, they should let the tutor or the Teaching Assistant know. Everyone works at different paces, and in the virtual classroom it’s not as easy for the tutor to work this out.

Students also need to remember that they have full access to the recordings, so they shouldn’t be too hard on themselves if they do lose a bit of concentration at times. They can always review a section that they are struggling with, and get their head around it at a later date.

For extra support, our Academic support team can provide students with access to qualified Accountants, and our apprentices can talk to their Talent Coaches.

It’s still interactive and you get the personal tutor touch that I thought would be missing online.

Student feedback

The chat panel

The chat pane is a live and interactive way to communicate in the online sessions.

The feedback was that some students wanted to simply listen to the tutor, whilst others really valued their questions being answered.

Many who wouldn’t normally feel comfortable asking questions in the classroom felt more confident asking questions through the ‘chat’. Some loved it and welcomed the interaction with both the tutor and their peers, but some found it distracting and said the tutors spent too much time on it.

Extra support (i.e. Teaching Assistant)

Many valued the extra layer of support provided by the TAs, with some commenting on the extra resources and exam tips being posted by them - as well as the jovial remarks!

It’s important to keep the class buoyant after a long day sat staring at screens!

Engagement

One of the major benefits of Live Online is that students can ask questions, which increases engagement. It’s also good to see what others are asking, a bit like in class.

Often their questions are similar to ones that other students might have already asked - so it makes them feel that they are all in this together.

I’d certainly advise students to not only ask and answer questions throughout the session, but also to be active on our forums between classes. It’s a great way to keep in touch and stay engaged.

Student motivation/Concentration

We realise how difficult people are finding things currently, and with exams looming - it’s easy for things to get on top of us. The survey found that half of those who responded felt they were behind with their studies, or had deliberately slowed things down to accommodate other commitments, including home-schooling.

Studying online requires self-discipline, which is easier said than done. But students must try and make use of the other support resources we have available.

For instance, we’ve got some great blogs on our Insights page about how students can motivate themselves.

Final thoughts

If students are struggling, they should speak to their tutor, ask questions, and try to keep engaged. You’re not alone in this so try to keep engaged throughout classes on the chat panel and after class.

Try to remind yourself why you are here - focus on the end game - and set yourself small achievable targets to take you along the way. Yes there will be more distractions at home, but try to minimise these and get into a positive mindset before class.

Make a study schedule, with regular breaks. But remember to keep talking to us. That’s what we’re here for!

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