Market Report | Learning to love online

27 August 2020

Co-founder Andrew Crisp reflects on the findings from GenWeb, the latest CarringtonCrisp market report. 


This year’s GenerationWeb report continued to examine best practices on school websites, but also asked students about their experience of learning in the lockdown.

Online learning has become the new normal during the pandemic, but what has that meant for students and what might it mean for the future? CarringtonCrisp added a section of questions on the online experience to our most recent GenerationWeb study to get a student perspective.

Published with EFMD the study has run for 13 years examining student views of best practice on business school websites and use of digital marketing. This year GenerationWeb went further seeking student views of their experience of studying through the lockdown and what it might mean for future study.

There are many positives for students and business schools, but also some issues that will need addressing. Almost three-quarters of students (71%) agree that their school has responded quickly to issues arising from the pandemic, while around two-thirds agree that their school has responded effectively to issues arising from the pandemic (65%) and that their school is making good use of online resources to help continue delivering teaching (66%).

Zoom (47%) and Microsoft Teams (37%) have been the main tools used to deliver online learning. Just over seven out of ten respondents to the survey agree that the system chosen for online learning by their business school has been easy to use. Two-thirds (67%) agree that their business school provided clear guidance on how to adapt to online learning.

However, it’s not all good news. Just over six out of ten students (61%) agree that the experience of online learning failed to match that of classroom learning. Almost four out of ten (39%) agree that the experience of online learning left them less interested in their subject of study.

Despite the difficulties that some have experienced, there is positive news about the future of online learning. Almost a third of respondents (31%) agree that the experience of online learning surprised them, exceeding their expectations, while slightly over a third (34%) agree that the experience of online learning made them more likely to consider it as an option in the future. Indeed, when asked how they would undertake any future learning they might consider, 53% of the respondents preferred blended study, making it the most popular choice offered.

The transition to online learning has undoubtedly been difficult with schools having to make changes in a matter of days and weeks that would otherwise have taken years to deliver. Consequently, some of the experience of online learning has not always been as good as it might be. Just under four out of ten GenerationWeb survey respondents agree that their
School has enhanced its reputation through the actions it has taken in recent weeks; although 40% neither agree nor disagree and 21% disagree.

With lifelong learning becoming ever more important today’s students will also be tomorrow’s learners and schools could do much to better understand attitudes to future learning by engaging today’s students. Just under half of the survey respondents (49%) indicate that their school is engaging them in thinking about the future of the business school, although only 12% definitely agree with this statement.

While a move to online learning has been completed by most schools in recent months, being a student is about much more than academic study. Just over three-quarters of the survey respondents (76%) indicate that advice and support services have been provided online, while 69% said that career services had been provided online. Outcomes of these changes suggest the transition to online provision has been largely successful with 65% indicating that advice and support services were either very good or good, while 61% indicated that career services were either very good or good.

Many business schools clearly made a successful transition to online learning in recent months, but if that is to be sustained and strengthened schools will need to ensure that the online experience becomes richer and more engaging, utilising the full range of digital tools available. A good place to start this development is with today’s generation of students, already digitally-engaged and often early adopters of new technology.

Buy GenWeb market report (£350)


Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels


Subscribe to our newsletter