The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Hart to Heart 10/18/12

Online classes are a well-established option for students nationwide. With the continued advancement of affordable technology, we’ve been able to own computers and easily access the internet for quite some time now. While the internet is a wonderful resource that the majority of us rely heavily upon, I feel as if online classes are not a legitimate way to get an education.

I completely understand the allure of online classes; as a matter of fact, I’m enrolled in one right now. They can be taken in the comfort of one’s own home, they open up daily schedules, and they don’t require quite as much time as lecture and lab classes. Perfect, right? Yeah, if you don’t want to learn anything.

I have nothing against the instructors for online classes. They’re as prepared and motivated as the average instructor for a traditional class. The problem lies in the lack of face-to-face interaction among students and teachers. Sure, there are the D2L discussions, but those are a far cry from actual class discussions. Regardless of how good the instructor is, the capacity for quality learning experience is small.

The benefit of personal interaction among students and teachers is the sense of accountability each person feels. In a classroom setting, students are motivated to challenge themselves and ask questions because they know that the professor expects it of them. The professor teaches to the best of his/her ability because he/she knows that the students who show up to class are ready to learn. The same is true for group projects; when students know the people they’re working with, it’s easier to take a personal interest in the outcome of the project rather than just adding a few slides to a powerpoint.

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For me, online class has taken the lowest priority in my education because I have no sense of accountability for the work I do. Sure, I get a grade at the end, but I’ll still pass quite easily because I’m completing the bare minimum. I have no reason to read and respond to every discussion post on D2L because, honestly, I don’t feel like doing it.

Education in the U.S., and in most of the world, is not an issue of access to information. Most of us are fortunate enough to have access to all of the information we need thanks to the internet, libraries, etc. What it comes down to is critically discussing this information. We get together and process it, which allows us to apply it to our own lives and remember it when we need it.

I won’t deny that it can be boring, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if I tried to learn everything on my own. An online class is only a step further than access to information; it is a place where subject matter has been compiled for us. But that doesn’t make it any more useful.

I’ll happily take the three credits once I complete my online class this December, but I will walk away with little more than that. Online classes may be a newer way learn, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a better way.

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