Dr. Ilan (Daniels) Rahimi

Dr. Ilan (Daniels) Rahimi, the Director of Academic Development and a Senior Lecturer at Ono Academic College recently completed a joint research project with Bar Ilan University which found that most students in Israel not only prefer distance learning, but are even willing to pay more for it.

This finding represents a significant change in students’ attitudes towards online learning. Following the Passover holiday, most students were expected to return to study on the various campuses in a hybrid model, i.e studies that combine online studies through the zoom with allowing students to attend courses on campus in a full or partial format. The decision to move to this approach was based on the assumption that a large proportion of students are tired of distance learning and want to return to in-person studies on campus.

Dr. (Daniels) Rahimi and his fellow researcher, Dr. Gila Cohen Zelka, recently conducted a study among more than 600 students from various academic institutions, and the results show that the students’ attitudes towards learning via Zoom have changed. At the beginning of the Corona lockdowns, students were very opposed to Zoom learning and in some cases demanded a partial tuition refund. Now they have changed their position and are interested in continuing to study via Zoom without even visiting the campus at all.

In a research project which interviewed students in preparatory courses, Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs, more than half of the students indicated that they prefer learning by zoom over in-person learning. The students added that they do not think that online learning has a negative impact on their motivation to learn and that learning via Zoom has less distractions than learning in the classroom.

Moreover, about 45% of the students surveyed “strongly agreed” with the statement that “If it was decided that Zoom studies would be stopped and all students would be required to come to campus, they would be willing to add 150 NIS per semester to their tuition in order continue studying in through distance learning”. An additional 10% “agreed” with this statement. Only about a third (32%) of the sample expressed disagreement with this idea.

According to Dr. (Daniels) Rahimi , the experience of students with Zoom over time has led them to recognize the benefits of distance learning.  He noted, “What began as a necessity that academic institutions were required to adopt, is now a real opportunity not to be missed. Moving to teaching and learning via Zoom is much more than using software. It is a breakthrough.”

He added that, “In the eyes of students, the use of zoom saves a great deal of time and money, so much so that they are willing to accept the disadvantages of using it and the complexity of learning with it. Presumably, these benefits are mainly enjoyed by students whose place of residence is significantly far from the campuses or those whose method of study allows them to more easily combine work with studies.”

The researchers also note that the study shows a positive relationship between the student’s age and their attitudes towards online learning: “The older the student, the more positive his attitudes are towards distance learning teaching, and the greater their willingness to learn via Zoom in the future,” says Dr. (Daniels) Rahimi. He continued saying that, “It is important to note that significant differences were found between men and women in attitudes toward distance learning instruction. The attitudes of female students were more positive compared to male students.”

The full article can be read on Mako at https://www.mako.co.il/study-career-study/articles/Article-21c57ec15dd9871026.htm