In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and classes were forced to go online due to public safety measures. Remote school and Zoom classes became the norm. Two years later, the pandemic is now seemingly under control. However, the question on many students’ minds is — will Emory University still offer online classes in a post-pandemic world?
In February, Emory College issued a survey to students on whether they would like to take online courses in future semesters. According to the survey, around 62% of students would favor taking one or more online classes per academic year.
“We will be planning to offer online classes post-pandemic,” College Dean Michael Elliott said.
He added that it will take more infrastructure and time for faculty to create online classes, and expects the process to be finalized in 2024.
Emory College sent the survey to 5,599 enrolled undergraduate students. Only 760 students responded, illustrating a 13.6% response rate.
Survey results revealed that students want the option to take online classes that fulfill general education requirements outside of their major, Elliott said. About 47.97% of respondents said they are the most interested in such courses. 20.85% of respondents expressed an interest in taking foreign language courses online, and 23.15% of respondents said they are interested in taking introductory-level major or minor courses online.
The survey whether students believe online classes would make it easier for them to engage in activities or experiences outside of school. About 23.84% said internships, 22.44% said work, 18.84% said research, 6.28% said athletics and 15.67% said educational opportunities abroad.
Elliott highlighted that online classes could also allow Oxford College students to take classes offered by Emory College that are not offered at Oxford. This will likely be a strategy in approaching which classes are candidates for an online format, he noted.
Large class sizes could also determine which courses are offered online as well as courses featuring guest lecturers from around the world. Elliott added that having online classes available in the future would make learning easier and more accessible for students, as it can strengthen existing lessons.
Elliott said that online courses will benefit more than just students. Professors have remarked that teaching online has helped them better teach material in person, he said.
“We’ve learned a lot about what online instruction is and isn’t and we want to use that in a way that benefits our students moving forward, post-pandemic,” Elliott said.
Being on campus and having in-person classes is what many students missed the most when it came to the pandemic, and Elliott recognized that some students may not want to learn virtually.
“I felt myself becoming more distant from my classmates,” Avery Bishop (20Ox, 23C) said. “Most of my friends as well, even those who originally liked it, felt like it was a double-edged sword.”
However, students will not be required to take online classes in upcoming semesters if they do not wish to. “We are not trying to make it mandatory that any student has to take online classes in order to pursue a major or a degree,” Elliott said.
Elliot noted that the residential experiences Emory offers are a quintessential part of the Emory experience. During each semester, Emory offers a wide array of events and activities for students to partake in while living on campus. Whether it be the weekly farmers market, live concerts on campus or clubs tabling in the quad, students have many on campus experiences.
“Emory will not be an online university,” Elliot said. “The residential experience is essential to the Emory undergraduate student experience and that is not about to change.”