Online classes reshape learning

by Katherine Morgan | Staff Writer

Students these days lead incredibly busy lives. From working full-time jobs to working one, two or three part-time jobs to possibly taking care of another human being, it can’t be denied that some students come with a lot on their plate. So when you try to add a few classes to the mix, you can be creating a recipe for disaster. Those few hours that are needed for a student to make their way down to the campus, sit in three classes for approximately three hours and then spend the rest of their night catching up on homework from said classes will add up. Not to mention the amount of money that it could take for someone to go out of their way to even get to school in the first place.

An article from the Washington Post states that in 2011, “three in ten adult Americans” held bachelor’s degrees, which was the largest recorded amount in history. It has been well documented that college graduates will make more than someone who only has a high school diploma. But how much more? On average, a college graduate will make over $55,000 in one year while a high school graduate will only make $33,000. That’s a $22,000 difference because of a college degree. That’s important money. So what’s a busy person to do when a degree seems out of their reach because they don’t have enough time to head down to campus? They register for on- line classes.

Online classes have been incredibly popular due to the fact that you can attend classes anywhere and at anytime. Teachers today have been known to list the entire course homework on their website in the very beginning of the class, making it easier for the students to space their homework around their work schedule. It allows for students to make a schedule that helps make their lives a lot easier. Those types of courses are called asynchronous. A synchronous course, on the other hand, is when a student must be online at a certain time of the day or week in order to meet with their professor and other class- mates. Because of the flexible schedule that asynchronous classes offer, they are seen as the most desirable for students on the move.

Another huge benefit to enrolling in online classes is being able to directly talk to your teacher when a problem arises. Many students who need extra help in their classes or just need a simple question answered keep their heads down because of the fear of seeming stupid. With online classes, you can avoid the awkward hand-raising and just send an email and get straight to the point.

On the other hand, there can be some problems with online classes as well. A lot of students rely on face-to-face contact with their professors. Sure, online classes allows teachers to state their expectations up front, but for some students, the need to talk to their professor in person is an important factor when deciding on whether or not to take a class. Teachers may find online classes to be demanding as well, simply because they find that they have to be connected to their computers or in some cases, smartphones, all day long. They must be on-demand all of the time, answering students’ questions, updating their course material or simply grading papers. Some students don’t seem to realize that online classes can be equally demanding for both students and teachers.

The worst news for students at Seattle Central, and for community colleges in general, is that if you do enroll in online courses, you are “significantly more likely” to fail or withdraw than if you had taken traditional classes. A five-year study of Washington state community and technical colleges attributed this to incoming students’ general unprepared- ness for a college environment. Whether this fact is incredibly discouraging or reason to work even harder to disprove the belief that traditional classes are better depends on how you look at it.

The good news for students at Seattle Central is that there are online classes for you to take. In fact, you can even get your A.A. online, which takes about 90 credits. You can take online classes, classes that teach you through videos and other forms of media, or classes that teach you through seminars.

You can adjust your classes so they will fit your schedule in the best way possible. But in the end, it all depends on what you are comfortable with. You have to find out what is right for you.

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