UNL professor seeking student insight about remote learning

The professor hopes to gain a better understanding of college students' experiences with online learning and see what worked and what didn't.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – It’s been close to a year since the pandemic closed schools and forced millions of students around the world into remote learning environments. Now, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor is analyzing the positives and negatives of virtual education.

“Even though it’s nice to be able to work at my own pace and do class from home, there are things I definitely miss. From walking to class and sitting down and seeing the people you sit by every day in class,” says senior Jake Bartecki, a journalism student at UNL.

Responses like Jake’s is exactly what Professor Barney McCoy is looking for. He’s conducting a national survey to gain insight from students about their remote learning experiences.

“We’re trying to get a sense from students about, even psychologically, how have they been able to effectively learn, have there been limitations to their ability to learn in a remote learning environment during a pandemic as opposed to what it was like in the classroom beforehand,” McCoy tells Channel 8 News.

The six-minute questionnaire is open to all college students 17 years and older and will be live until the end of March. McCoy says so far, he’s received a wide range of responses from hundreds of students on all coasts of the U.S.

As universities begin investing more resources into online education, McCoy hopes the data will help pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of virtual learning, so schools can weigh the benefits.

“Their classrooms have been their bedrooms, their cars sometimes, all kinds of different environments so we do know that some of those environments might be a lot more distracting than in a classroom,” McCoy says.

Through the data, which will be released this fall, McCoy says hopefully it will help students, teachers, and institutions overcome those distractions to increase the quality and effectiveness of online learning.

Along with some of the difficulties that come with virtual education, students have also been recognizing some advantages.

“I thought I was going to struggle a lot more than I did, there were some classes I will say I definitely would have done better if they were fully in person,” Bartecki says. “There are other classes though that I think having more access to the internet and having more access to freedom with how I do things, how I study, do the assignments and how I get them in on time… I think that freedom helped me in some classes.”

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