Survey says Hong Kong students didn't like online learning during Covid-19 class suspension

  • A study of local secondary students found e-learning during coronavirus was more stressful, and students sometimes didn't have the equipment they needed
  • An overwhelming majority prefer learning in person, but returning to school has its own stresses with exams 
Wong Tsui-kai |

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Surprise, surprise: turns out most students weren't big fans of online learning.

A study conducted by Chinese University has revealed that most local secondary students were not too keen on online learning during the suspension of classes. They were also under a lot of stress during e-learning.

The survey collected the opinions of 1,168 students from April to May. Some 18.6 per cent of students said they had to borrow equipment, such as a computer or laptop, and buy data roaming cards. 

The majority – 72 per cent – said they preferred learning in person. Only 23 per cent said online learning was adequate. 

Professor Thomas Chiu Kin-fung, who led the study, told Young Post that the lack of equipment seriously hindered the learning process.

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“But this is not a new issue. Students had encountered this problem in information technology education. The school shutdown and the switch to e-learning just made it more obvious,” he said, adding that charity initiatives from organisations such as the Jockey Club tried to help needy students. 

The Society for Community Organisation’s (SoCo) Sze Lai-shan said this is a common problem for underprivileged families. “Parents are pleading for help. It’s a difficult situation, as some students still do not have the required equipment for e-learning, and schools haven’t fully reopened yet.” 

A survey of 600 such students in March by SoCo found that more than 70 per cent of them did not have a computer with internet access. “Some people and companies donated computers to the students, and some schools let their students borrow a computer or laptop, but it just isn’t enough,” Sze said.

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Chiu said the return to school might be more stressful if students had to immediately catch up on school work and prepare for exams.

“E-learning does not take students’ mental health into consideration,” he said. “Schools should focus on students’ mental health.”

He added: “There should be some level of assessment, but I’m sceptical about the need for excessive assessments and exams.”

He said education isn’t just going to a tutorial school. “Education is about all-round, whole-person development,” he added. 

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