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A decade ago, students were already showing their preference for online classes

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Robert Zaretsky’s lament that post-COVID collegiate education may evolve into a scenario where students prefer distance learning to in-class lecture-based studies may have more merit than he realizes (”I fear my students will decide they prefer online classes,” Ideas, March 7).

More than 10 years ago, I was teaching a course that was required for all students enrolled at a Boston-area graduate school. At the request of the administration, I developed and taught an online version of the course. As enrollment at the school increased dramatically, we offered multiple sections of the online course. However, we always maintained one on-site traditional lecture section of the course because the administration stated that, based on surveys of our enrollees, students wanted more contact with their instructors and preferred traditional classes over the new online offerings.

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Inevitably, on the first day of registration, all of the online sections would be totally populated. I would then field messages from students who didn’t get into those sections who stated unequivocally that they really didn’t want to come to campus and sit in those lecture rooms. They asked: Could I please give them an override to attend one of the online classes?

John Twomey

Wakefield, R.I.