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Survey of Ontario university students, faculty says online learning has had negative impact

TORONTO, Oct. 20, 2020 A student wearing a face mask walks at York University in Toronto, Canada, on Oct. 20, 2020. (Photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua) (Credit Image: © Zou Zheng/Xinhua via ZUMA Press)

A survey of university students, faculty, and academic librarians in Ontario suggests that the shift to online learning has negatively affected the quality of their educational experience.

The poll of 2,700 people was commissioned by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations and released today.

Read more: Coronavirus: How Ontario colleges and universities are trying to protect campus residence students

It reveals that 62 per cent of students and 76 per cent of faculty and academic librarians believe online learning has had a negative impact on education quality.

Rahul Sapra, president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, said that the results show a meaningful engagement between students and faculty is a fundamental part of the learning process.

“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the scramble to move courses online, we have lost that human connection and educational quality has suffered,” Sapra said.

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The survey found that financial security, care demands, and work-life balance are significant stress points for both groups.

A majority of students that responded to the survey said they are concerned about their financial security as a result of high tuition fees and fewer opportunities to earn income.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Ontario university students assess their year' Coronavirus: Ontario university students assess their year
Coronavirus: Ontario university students assess their year – Sep 18, 2020

“Since the beginning of the pandemic students have raised concerns about the quality and affordability of their education,” said Kayla Weiler, Ontario representative of the Canadian Federation of Students. “These results further indicate that universities and the Ontario government must take action to improve learning and working conditions.”

Other issues they cited are their mental health and their ability to manage non-academic responsibilities, including caregiving, while studying.

Faculty and academic librarians who participated in the survey feel they are still falling short of their own expectations.

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