When you have a question in a class or you don’t understand something, what do you do? You raise your hand. You approach your professor after class.
But what if your professor couldn’t see your hand? What if you couldn’t walk to the front of the classroom to receive immediate answers?
This, I feel, is the real problem with online classes. They create a boundary, a cyber wall, which has the potential to cut us off from the knowledge we need and the person who can provide it to us.
This year, the University of Florida introduced a program called the Pathway to Campus Enrollment. The program requires incoming freshman to spend two semesters taking only online classes.
They must earn 15 credits through the program, and when they reach 60 credits, which can include any they received in high school, they can then move on to taking classes at the residential campus.
There are some benefits to this type of college experience. Programs such as PaCE and online courses in general, allow universities to enroll more students, and thus, give more people the opportunity to receive a college education.
They also provide a means for people who normally wouldn’t be able to complete a degree, such as those who work full time or have to care for children, to get the education they want.
That being said, I don’t think online courses are the right choice for a majority of students. They are often seen as easy classes, courses students can take to earn credit but without the requirement to work or retain any information.
I’ve taken a handful of online classes since my first semester. While I always tried to do the assigned readings and discussion questions, there were times when I would go into a test without even having looked at my textbook.
After taking all of those classes, I probably don’t remember three-quarters of what I was tested on. For most, I never emailed my professor with questions, and a majority of the time, I didn’t even know what he or she looked like. There’s a difference in the amount of work that I, and many other students, put into my regular classes and those taken online.
When you have to take a test in class without your textbook at your elbow, you have to spend much more time studying and processing that information. When you know your teacher will call on you for information from your assigned reading, you spend more time going through the book to make sure you know the answers.
I would say there is a caveat to taking online classes. Students must know themselves, and how they learn best, and make their course decisions with that in mind.
If you know that you can’t pay attention in any environment that isn’t a classroom, don’t take online classes. If you know that you’ll never remember the information you read unless it’s taught to you, don’t take online classes.
If, at the end of the semester, you’ll know more about what’s trending on Twitter than anything you were supposed to be learning, don’t take online classes.
Because, ultimately, we are all responsible for our own educations.
We decide how much we will take away from our classes, whether online or not. We make the choice to visit our professors’ office hours or to study an extra hour at the library. We must take charge of our own learning.
That’s what Knights do; we charge on.
Deanna Ferrante is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future.