During the recent “virtual” Spring Meeting of the Florida Forum on Engineering Technology , participants expressed concern about technician students’ experience in moving to remote instruction this semester due to COVID-19. Based on early reports from community college partners, the transition has been challenging, and some programs indicated students are even considering withdrawing from their programs. As one faculty member explained: “They have given up. [Students] feel they can’t do this online without support.” There was interest in discussing this topic further at the next ET Forum due to both the uncertainty related to the return of in-person instruction and the perceived need to improve student comfort and confidence in online learning. To help inform that discussion, the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center (FLATE) and the Inquiry Research Group LLC teamed up to create a small pilot survey to collect some initial feedback from Florida technician students about their online experience this past semester.

About half of students report feeling worried about making progress toward their degree, although about two-thirds did feel that they would be able to complete the semester. While students felt having access to course materials all the time worked well for them, they also felt the greatest challenge was not being able to learn in a hands-on way. In order to overcome obstacles in online learning, students report relying heavily on instructors.

Marilyn Barger , Executive Director, Florida Advanced Technological Education Center
Lakshmi Jayaram , President, Inquiry Research Group