June 26-28, 2024
Long Beach, CA

The Pivot: Student Perceptions and Preference in Online Education


Presented by: Dr. Emma Blackthorne, Sr. Dean of Research, and Dr. Joanna Miller, Dean of Distance Education both at Contra Costa Community College District, discuss research through student surveys and interviews on the pivot in attitudes toward online education.

Speaker Bios:

  • Dr. Emma Blackthorne is the Senior Dean of Research and Planning at the three-campus Contra Costa Community College District, and is a former dean of Institutional Research at for Yuba Community College District.
  • Dr. Joanna Miller is the districtwide Dean of Distance Education for the 3-college district in Contra Costa County. She is a previous campus distance education coordinator and full-time faculty in Journalism. She serves as co-chair of the CCC California Virtual Campus Consortium, as vice president of the CCC Distance Education Coordinators Org., and is past chair of the CCC Distance Education and Education Technology Advisory Committee to the CCCCO. She completed her dissertation for her Ed.D. in Success in Online Education in 2012, and continues to advocate for student equity and inclusion through student access to OER and high-quality online classes.

Session Info:

Soon after thousands of faculty and students were flung into unfamiliar online learning environments in Spring 2020, surveys polling several thousand students conducted by the 4CD Research Department unsurprisingly showed that students hated online classes. They were disgruntled with their faculty, and felt isolated from their peers, and unengaged with the content. A year later, additional research showed students were warming up as their perceptions improved and faculty practices adjusted after training and a little more experience. In Spring 2022, two years after the big upheaval, 4CD research shows students now prefer online, with some even considering themselves online students.

What happened in between that brought about this pivot, and what are the best guesses for the future in terms of student demands and institutional response? Dr. Blackthorne presents the research detail and analysis, while Dr. Miller fills in with recorded student video clips, faculty opinions, and administrative projections.

Session Outcomes:

  • Gain insight into what students say they want and need to succeed in education today.
  • Explore links between student stress, mode of delivery options to facilitate work/life balance, and success.
  • Learn about implications for considerations around scheduling courses and services to meet student needs.
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