Who Thinks They’re Ready to Learn Remotely?

April 10, 2020 | Volume 51, Number 8

While most college students feel they have the tools they need to move online, they remain anxious about their own skills in managing their learning in an off-campus environment, according to results of a survey of 432 college students across the U.S. that was conducted by Barnes & Noble Education (Basking Ridge, NJ) during the week of March 23.

BNED conducted the online quantitative survey as campuses across the country were closing and moving their students online because of the spread of COVID-19.

While the majority of the responding students agreed that schools and instructors are prepared for the switch to online learning, 24% had doubts about their college or university’s preparedness, and 33% had doubts about their instructors’ preparedness.

Survey results indicated that strong communication from instructors particularly helped students feel more comfortable about the change, according to BNED.

The survey found students were split on their readiness for the move. More than half of students (60%) said they are at least somewhat prepared for the switch to online classes,. The remaining 40% are less certain, saying they need time to adjust to the transition.

Previous experience with online learning appears to be a key factor in how prepared students feel. Students who had taken an online class previously are more likely to feel prepared (70%) compared to the 30% who did not feel prepared.

More than half (64%) of students expressed concern over maintaining focus and discipline, unsure if they would be able to motivate themselves over the long term to do work remotely. Among their concerns was the feeling that their homes were not conducive environments for study and the students’ own ability to be easily distracted.


More than half of the responding students (55%) said they were concerned about the lack of social interactions when learning online, saying they learn better when they are with their fellow students.

And, 45% of responding students said they were concerned they will not perform as well academically under these circumstances.

A smaller percentage of students have technological worries, with 12% citing concerns about their internet access not being strong or fast enough.


Nearly half (42%) of the responding students said they see self-paced learning as a potential benefit of moving online.

In addition to using digital learning platforms to view lectures, some surveyed students said they planned greater use of digital tools as they continue their education online:

  • 20% of students expect to use e-textbooks more;
  • 25% said they plan to use online study aids more.

The greatest increase in use is expected to be seen with the use of connection tools such as Skype, email and chat services. A solid majority of students—78%—said they expect to increase their use of these tools for virtual interactions as part of the transition to online learning.

We welcome your views. To submit a letter to the editor, send us an email to press@simbainformation.com.