A growing option for students needing to fit more classes into their schedule is online classes. Although some have been quick to ascribe a stigma to online classes, the numerous benefits to online classes clearly outweigh the downsides. To me, any cost-effective program that increases the amount of options presented to the student body is a worthwhile program, especially when the downsides are minuscule.
First, online classes minimize the risk of an ineffective professor hindering the development of a student. In a traditional classroom setting, the teaching style of a professor or instructor plays a very vital role in how effectively a student learns. In an online setting, the professor is only directly needed to teach during online lectures or for students who need one-on-one help. This makes more time for those students and allows the other students to work ahead if their pace is quicker than the pace of the class.
Another great aspect to online classes is that students have more flexibility when scheduling classes. If a student is recommended to set aside three hours per week for an online class, they are not limited to eight-to-five days, nor are they limited by certain class scheduling times.
Online classes can also save students a lot of money. By only needing a stable Wi-Fi connection, students do not need to drive to campus on days they have only online classes. They also cut down on commuter costs which include things like food, meal plans and wear and tear on vehicles. Online classes work around the schedule of the student, rather than a student working around their school schedule. This allows a student to work more hours while still taking classes, giving them the chance to make more money while in college.
This does not mean that online classes are free of faults. Online classes can require a lot of self-discipline. If it is hard for a student to make it to their lectures, most of which take attendance, it would be very easy for someone to skip an online class, since there is no immediate consequence for absences. Other problems include the dependency on stable Wi-Fi and a decreased opportunity to network with peers.
Another problem often raised is that online settings do not work for all classes. Some classes require a physical audience, such as public speaking courses.
Even with these drawbacks, online classes should still be an option for students. Many of these problems have easy solutions. There are an abundance of places with free Wi-Fi, allowing students to take their classes to locations near their homes if their homes do not have stable Wi-Fi. By freeing up more time in students’ schedules, it allows time for more involvement in extracurricular organizations on campus, allowing for more social interaction outside of the classroom.
The only serious drawbacks to online courses are the requirements for self-motivation and the susceptibility of cheating, but even these problems can be rectified. By having students take tests in controlled environments, similar to the math lab in Sims Library, it would limit the possibilities of cheating. If a student is making perfect homework grades, but failing tests consistently, it would stand to reason that the student in question could be cheating.
While online classes are not here to replace classroom-based courses, they definitely serve a purpose. By allowing students greater freedom, it opens up their options in terms of time outside of learning and could save them a lot of money. This is why I believe that online classes should be made available for as many classes as possible to give students options that they didn’t have before.