Online courses deepen inequalities at universities too –

Online courses widen the inequalities between the most gifted students and those with learning difficulties, shows a study by the University of Geneva, conducted among 1,500 students before the health crisis. With the pandemic, the situation could get worse.

Taking a course remotely, on his computer, that does not pose too much of a problem for students who have ease. It may even improve the exam results of some of them. But for those with learning difficulties, it is even more complicated with online courses.

“Staying at home deprives them of the benefit of the teacher’s presence in class,” explains Michele Pellizzari, co-author of the study, and professor of economics at the University of Geneva. “Face-to-face lessons have a dynamic where the teacher comes to understand why some students lose track a bit. And so he comes back, explains again with different words, with a slightly different point of view. This dynamic is there. very important for students who need a little more help understanding the content of a course. “

Universities need to be aware of this

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According to him, universities must be aware of these inequalities, because the health crisis “accelerates the transition to online learning”. In Switzerland, students from universities and colleges have been back home since November 2.

Contacted, the University of Lausanne says it does not yet have figures on dropping out, but the concerns are there: “we have indications that the phenomenon has been strengthening since the start of the pandemic”.

And at the University of Friborg, we are delighted to be back in class.

Pauline Rappaz / ebz

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