Online classes may provide a convenience for students that traditional classrooms just cannot match, but the quality of the learning experience is a completely different story.
Taking an online class is a big commitment, and demands a great deal of self-motivation.
Professor Jake Lowary, who teaches an online News Reporting course, said, “For a lot of students, online classes are way more convenient. Being able to essentially plug in anywhere is really important for students who have other commitments such as families or long commutes.”
However, the connection between students and instructors is hard to maintain in an online course. Students lack the ability to tap one another on the shoulder if they miss something in the lecture, or to raise their hands to ask the professor a question if they are confused about the material.
Junior broadcast media major Elizabeth Patterson said, “Having optional meet up days could help break the barrier between students and instructors. It does not have to be mandatory but just a designated time where they can meet once a week, in case the student needs extra assistance.”
Ultimately the issue of online classes versus traditional classroom settings comes down to how students learn most effectively. Unfortunately, students do not know if they will excel in an online course until it is too late.
IT has proposed a program to APSU’s Technology Access Fee Allocation Committee called SmarterMeasure, a test students can take their first semester of college that will show whether or not they will be successful in online courses.
The test will be very similar to a learning types test, but geared toward whether or not a student will prosper in an online class or if a student’s learning abilities are more suited for a traditional classroom setting.
Sophomore history major Justin Randall, a student representative for TAF, said, “This test would have been useful to me. If I had known there was a way I could find out beforehand I would not flourish in a class, I would not take it.”
Usually these types of projects take about one to two years before they are implemented.
“Personally I do not feel like I learn effectively from online classes. When I am reading a lecture online, I do not feel like I am really pulling all that I can from it,” Randall said.
Online classes allow students to work at their own pace and receive their education from just about anywhere, but they cannot compare to a traditional classroom setting where students and instructors interact face to face.