Thinking about taking online classes? Those considering enrolling for online classes should weigh the pros and cons before placing their education at risk. Although a significant number of the population have undergone the conventional way of attending classes, people in the contemporary world are opting for online classes according to The 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning (O’Neil, Fisher and Rietschel, 2013). This is because the schedules are tighter and thus people need to juggle a lot more. This therefore means that they cannot find enough time to attend classes. Additionally, online classes are flexible and thus one can even take those in the dead of the night. However, online classes have their flip side. Interaction between the teacher and student is minimal. This is not to mention that one does not interact with their fellow students. Some online classes have also been known to be fraudulent thus the certificate is of absolute no use.
An online course is one that a student undertakes without having to factor in geographical distance. In reality, online courses remove the geographical dimension of the lesson completely. This kind of learning is best suited for students who are located off campus. However, those who are on campus are also beginning to take a preference for the same. Universities continue to seek different ways to serve this particular population of students (O’Neil, Fisher and Rietschel, 2013). They have tried among others, satellite teleconferences and correspondence courses among many others to ensure that these students are catered for. However, technology has made it easier. The internet has enabled continuous and cheap communication in the ‘online classroom’. Additionally, it provides a library as well as other sources of information that they may need. Furthermore, social networking has also increased the pace at which information is spread within these circles. This paper shall give an in depth analysis of both the advantages and advantages of online classes education. This paper is of argumentative nature and is therefore not inclined to take sides.
Benefits and Advantages of Online Classes
For the student, taking an online course is a rewarding experience. This is especially so since online courses have taken what is known as student centered learning. This mode of learning requires that a student takes responsibility for his own path in the learning process (Moore and Kearsley, n. d.). This is unlike the olden days where the teacher pushed the students to acquire an education. The teacher in an online course is more of a facilitator. Thus, online learning acts as a motivating factor for the online learner of today’s age. The millennial student has the opportunity to learn with gadgets they are familiar with and that they enjoy working with. Online learning opens doors for one to do whatever one feels like doing (O’Neil, Fisher and Rietschel, 2013). There is no need to follow any program or to take any classes. Indeed, this nontraditional learning opens up one’s mind and thus is the perfect place for innovation.
Of course, the greatest advantage of online learning is the flexibility of the program. Indeed students from all over the world can attend various institutions without having to be physically present. It also allows for the students to save tie. The time a student spends when going to the classroom is eliminated in an online setting. This is not to mention the time students in a conventional classroom take to settle down for the lesson. Online course give one the luxury of settling in before the classroom begins hence eliminating time wastage. This allows students from different cultures to interact without any interference (O’Neil, Fisher and Rietschel, 2013). This allows rich relationships to be formed that last through the years. As they say, the world is indeed a global village. These relationships last much longer that the classroom setting. They lead to intermarriage and exchange of ideas that does change the world.
Furthermore, individual attention can be given to students who request of it (Walman and Tomer, 2012). This therefore means that, students can be more interactive with their instructors if they choose to. They can be relating with the instructor via emails and Skype chats not to mention several social media outlets. They can then ask the instructor questions that they have and seek clarification where need be. This is contrast to a campus-based lesson whereby the time may not be enough for all the questions. Also, during a traditional classroom setting class, the instructor cannot give each student individualized attention because these students are too many.
Particular college majors fit in perfectly with online instruction. These are the majors that are characteristically offered online as compared to others. Business, general studies, liberal arts, health professions as well as humanities fall in this category (O’Neil, Fisher and Rietschel, 2013). The reason these majors show great presence online could be that they all for socialization more than other majors. These majors may require heightened discussions in order to properly understand and assimilate a topic. Indeed, with the availability of online discussion, this is made possible. Additionally, these courses require a lot of research, and since online forums give them the ability to do that, then this is possible.
It has been argued that the greatest advantage that working online in whatever situation makes one anonymous (O’Neil, Fisher and Rietschel, 2013). This is in the sense that the rest of the online users cannot see one if one does not want to be seen. One can then air their opinions as they wish and with discretion. Therefore, all those students who have previously been bullied in normal classroom settings cannot be bullied any longer. In any classroom, there is bound to be discrimination. Society as it is today always picks on the people who are different from them. This includes overweight and obese students, students of a different race, or students with a different sexual orientation. These students may then be unable to contribute during class discussions. Consequently, their low self esteem will lead to inadequate grasping of the subject at hand and low grades. This has been the case for several students all over the world. However, the inception of online classes now gives them an opportunity to air their views without fear of being ridiculed. Furthermore, since they cannot be seen by other students they do not suffer from issues of low self esteem and thus their performance will not be affected.
Student- Centered Learning
It has been found that online studies promote student centered learning. Students pursuing online classes are in a position to dictate their learning experience. To begin with, the students are given the choice of the studying methodology they would wish to employ (O’Neil, Fisher and Rietschel, 2013). Tutors teach at all times therefore students can prioritize their schedule and finish up their course work in timely.
The final advantage associated with online education is accessibility. The issue of distance from a learning institution is no longer a hurdle in the students’ access for education. Consequently, student who pursue online education have the opportunity to utilize their time effectively since there are various options in online studying (O’Neil, Fisher and Rietschel, 2013). All a student needs to access online education is access to the internet and a personal computer to find the desired course. This system ensures that students dedicate all their energies to study. Travel is one of the major concerns that affect students who reside in remote areas and take on conventional classes. Online classes provide a solution for such students and saves money and time.
Drawbacks and Disadvantages of Online Classes
It is hardly surprising that online classes have become the student’s preferred was to get a degree in a faster and convenient fashion (Walman and Tomer, 2012). Online classes are considered to be a groundbreaking concept in the education sector however, there are several disadvantages resulting from it. Students are advised to be cautious in pursuing this form of education.
Lack of face to face communication with the instructor
This is probably the most influential disadvantage of online classes. Students do not get the chance to interact at a personal level with their tutors which is common for the conventional method of learning (Walman and Tomer, 2012). Learning online is not the same as receiving first hand instruction from a tutor in a class setting.
Owing to the fact that the idea of online classes is relatively new, its quality varies greatly even in courses offered in the same institution (England, 2012). In addition to, it is difficult to establish whether an online course delivers well on the investment before a student begins (Walman and Tomer, 2012). Validity of online classes is not accepted by all people, there are some employers who disregard online acquired academic credentials.
There are those individuals who are more productive and learn more while socializing with others. In an online setting there is minimal interaction between classmates and tutors (Walman and Tomer, 2012). It can be concluded that online classes are not appropriate for these students and they may opt for the conventional way of attending classes.
Internet Connection Problems and Computer Skills
Beginner students may encounter difficulties in managing online learning software and computer files (England, 2012). In other words, students who are not accustomed to newsgroups, emails and web browsers may fail online classes as explained by The Illinois Network (Walman and Tomer, 2012). Unreliable computer connections and computer problems can cause students to miss tests and deadlines.
This of course is dependent on the teaching method adopted in course work delivery (Walman and Tomer, 2012). This is owing to the fact there is minimal supervision in online classes.
Online classes promote a student centered learning method therefore students with poor learning habits, low motivation and self determination may fall behind (Walman, S. W. and Tomer, 2012). This also promotes procrastination and poor time management as students are the sole decision makers.
In most cases, high school graduates may not have the self disciple and motivation that is required to keep up with the course work in online classes. High school graduates exhibit laxity and complacence and therefore should study under high supervision that is not available in the online system of learning (Walman and Tomer, 2012). Moreover, carrying out laboratory activities in online learning is more intricate than in a supervised college or university laboratory. In the contemporary world, employers call for job applicants to have practical knowledge in handling real issues facing companies in addition to occupational knowledge. Furthermore, job applicants are required to have excellent people skills, public speaking skills and interpersonal skills, students taking up online classes have fewer opportunities to practice these skills (England, 2012).
From the above discussion it is clear that online classes have gained increased popularity in the recent times. It is clear that this mode of learning has its perks and disadvantages. Online classes have made a hallmark in the education sector by introducing a convenient way of learning that is flexible, accessible as well as student centered. However learners should be careful in choosing this form of learning as it minimizes the level of interaction, has minimal supervision and requires technical computer skills among many other disadvantages. Students are advised to be fully aware of these pros and cons of online education before setline for online classes.
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- Walman, S. W., & Tomer, C. (2012). Designing online learning. ABC-CLIO.