Switching to online education

When switching to online education, there is the risk of going back to an increased amount of one-way communication and other factors that research has shown reduce the opportunities for good learning in students. There are also other risks, such as the fact that students are more likely to drop out of their studies due to lower motivation, or a feeling of isolation. It may be more difficult to ask questions, to get in touch with their teacher, etc. At the same time, the transition can have positive consequences for student learning: tasks may become more oriented to student engagement and processing of learning material; the learning platform may provide opportunity to study at times that suit each student better i.e. when they are more focused, alert, and in an environment where they feel safe.

Research on online teaching compared to campus-based teaching is not unambiguous. The reason is that online education can very well be organized as a 'bad' version of campus education, and thus of course show poorer results regarding progression, commitment and interest in studying among students. However, there is a lot of research that shows that when online teaching is organized to take advantage of the opportunities it offers, you can in many cases achieve more than in 'regular' campus teaching.


Pitfalls when teaching online  

Passivity and Social isolation are two issues that research has showed problematic in online teaching, but there is also some research that suggests what can be done to counteract the problems.  

Passivity: Video-filmed lectures are often too long and place high demands on attention, interest and commitment. Asynchronous lectures make it difficult to ask questions and get answers right when the questions arise.

What can be done?: Video-recorded lectures should be short and divided into several parts. Think about what material the students need to be able to complete tasks that mean they process the course content and their learning in the subject.


Social isolation: It is more difficult to build a relationship with other students – and the teacher before and after the teaching, which affects the social motivation to participate in the education.

What can be done? Make sure the students get the opportunity to get to know the course anyway, for example by giving them tasks that they have to solve in advance in a smaller group, opening up the zoom room before the appointed time, etc.


Help students to process the content of the course

A recently published overview study showed that the most important strategies for creating good learning online are: collaborative learning, simulation and games, and interactive multimedia - all three help create opportunities for students to process the content of the course. Read more about the three strategies here.


Further readings

Here you find an owerview of a number of articles previously published in the newsletter 'Current University Educational Research' which provide some insight into things to think about. The articles in the newsletter are mainly in Swedish, but you find the link to the original articles (mostly in English) at the bottom of each page.


Teacher role and digitization

Can I be replaced by a robot? About current research on AI in higher education

Governance documents more positive to digital tools in teaching than teachers

How do university teachers want to learn new technology?


Digital learning tools

Video demonstrations are a good complement to teaching practical skills

Flipped lab becomes the bridge between theory and practice

Video-recorded lectures result in reduced physical attendance and poorer study results

Student activating apps?

How does the digital learning platform's design affect learning?


Students' learning and digitization

Give or receive feedback - which is best for student learning?

Sophisticated “googling” helps students reach higher grades

First-year students' use of lecture resources differs markedly


Course design and teaching methods to integrate into online teaching

Flipped classrooms and the hunt for the optimal preparation activity

Is course evaluation online better than course evaluation with paper and pen?

Tutoring with digital tools makes students a knowledge producer

Time to flip the laboratory too!

Large meta-study: lectures vs active learning

Crash course in student-activating teaching methods