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Student Perceptions of Online Learning During the Pandemic: A Change in Social Dynamics at a Swedish University



Jennifer Gross , Caroline Uppsäll

Publication Type:

Conference/Workshop Paper


IEEE Frontiers in Education




This Research Full Paper presents findings on Swedish computer science students’ perception of learning online during the Covid-19 pandemic at a mid-sized Swedish university. Due to the pandemic, classes in Swedish universities moved abruptly to an online format during the spring of 2020. Content analysis was used to analyze 10 interviews with third-year bachelor students. The results were discussed in the light of the community of inquiry theoretical framework. We found that when learning online, students communicated and collaborated via a class-wide Discord server, an online communication platform originally developed for the gaming community. The use of Discord was seen to change the students’ expectations of student-instructor interaction. The students’ frequency of questions to the instructor decreased drastically when learning in the online environment compared to the on-campus environment, both during live-lectures and outside of class. The students perceived instructor engagement and presence in both live and recorded lectures as more important for their learning online than in the on-campus setting and wanted more interaction during lectures. Discord created a community for the students. However, the social aspects of learning were still missed. Many interviewees found it hard to keep focus and struggled with self-discipline and identifying a work structure. Clear benefits given for online learning were flexibility and convenience of time and place. Students also experienced group work to be more efficient online.


author = {Jennifer Gross and Caroline Upps{\"a}ll},
title = {Student Perceptions of Online Learning During the Pandemic: A Change in Social Dynamics at a Swedish University},
isbn = {978-1-6654-6244-0},
month = {November},
year = {2022},
booktitle = {IEEE Frontiers in Education},
url = {}