Latest Government announcements have given no clear indication as to when students will be back on campus in the UK. We’ve continued to investigate the impact of home studying and online learning, and what this means for students’ productivity and mental wellbeing.
Studying from home: March 2020 vs. January 2021
The move from in-person learning to studying from home has been hard for everyone – students, teachers and of course, parents.
Back in March 2020, when the UK went into its first lockdown, we polled our community and asked them if they were ready to study from home. Around 29% of respondents said they felt they would be at a disadvantage compared to others if they had to study at home. Although this is nearly a third of our respondents, this was early in the pandemic and many schools and universities hadn’t organised their teaching or home supplies at this point.
Here’s what the community had to say back in March:
“im effective when i study outside my home, i miss group study sessions it really stimulates my learning”
“I DO NOT have a quiet place to study, I SHOULD HAVE the necessary equipment”
“As for at home I [have] everything i need to work and it would be quiet seeing as my parents both work in the NHS so wouldn’t be home”
Last week, we revisited this topic, putting a poll out to ask our community whether they felt they had access to a suitable space for study. We were shocked to hear that over 43% said no – a jump of 14 percentage points compared with the March findings. Almost a year into this pandemic, it’s clear there’s an urgent need to rectify this. Although the education sector cannot change the living environment for students, it can ensure they have the equipment needed to study from home.
Here’s what they had to say last week:
“I work from my bed, the lack of printing facilities is irritating at best, and my connection on Meets often lets me down at least once a lesson.”
“missing going to the library and studying out of the house – that was my most productive time!”
“I also keep having to move desks to cater for my family. i’m extremely fortunate to have different spaces that I can work in, but it just reinforces the idea that you don’t have your own space.”
Engagement with video studies and online platforms
Students are struggling to adapt to online learning. It’s a very different experience and not one that all students find comfortable. For example, in a recent poll, we asked students how they felt about using cameras during lessons. The results:
- 11% are embarrassed about their background
- 15% don’t use them because their teacher doesn’t want them to
- 37.5% feel too self-conscious showing their face
The thread shows that there is a lack of consistency in camera use across different institutions – some students are required to have their cameras on, while others are prohibited from using cameras.
“Yes – I feel really bad for the tutor who has to teach to a screenful of initials. It’s so unhuman like”
“My school literally forces us to turn on our cameras, otherwise we’ll be kicked out of the lesson”
“My school considers it a ‘safeguarding issue’ for the teachers to see inside our houses so we r not allowed!”
Mental health issues among students
Between 6 – 12th January, there were 2256 posts on our platform about stress, anxiety, or worry. Our recent blog takes a deep dive into many of these issues, however, we’d also encourage you to access the student poll directly, to find out what’s got students most worried during lockdown 3.
How might the homeworking environment impact universities?
Our research shows that students are facing a range of challenges in working from home. One risk is that this could impact their love for learning in the future. Universities can help their students and applicants by directing them to support services and taking time to remind them that this isn’t forever.