Take a break from tradition: learn online

There is more to online courses than wearing your footie pajamas to class

More stories from Sam Farley


Photo by Sam Farley

There are many benefits of taking a class online, and the process is only improving as advancements in technology continue in today’s virtual age

The spring season is upon us and with it, elevated stress levels that seem to be outpacing the rising temperatures. One culprit for this, the notorious email inbox, can be particularly overwhelming — especially on a Monday morning.

Your email relentlessly bombards you with course suggestions for the summer and fall semester. You hardly glance at the course information and quickly tap the trash can to rid the stressor from your life.

Some of the classes seem like they couldn’t be further unrelated to your major or your interests, but some might give you the credit you need. To make matters worse, many are strictly offered online — a nontraditional road you had no intention of going down.

This road, however, might just be the perfect fit.

While the ability to learn in the comfort of your own home is an obvious benefit, there are other considerable pros as well.

The biggest of them is flexibility.

Students have more control over their schedules and learn the material at a time that works best for them. This is especially helpful if they have jobs or other commitments they must work around.

Further, the issue of commuting is gone, which saves people both time and gas money. (Or, if you live on campus like I do, a lengthy 15-minute walk up and down the hill.)

In addition to having more control over their schedule, students have more classes to choose from. While there aren’t nearly as many online courses offered at UW-Eau Claire as there are traditional, the virtual classroom is not limited to our campus.

Credits can be earned and transferred from other universities — a nice perk if you find yourself looking to take a course that is not currently available or offered at Eau Claire.

However, there might be a wider variety of existing online classes here than you think.

A simple search in CampS in which “Mode of Instruction” was specified to “Online” brought up over 100 results for undergraduate courses in a variety of subjects.

Not only do online students have more options, they also have more money in their pockets.

We are all too aware of how expensive college is. Taking a few credits over the summer at home is a cheap way to work toward your degree without having to pay housing expenses.

It’s like education on clearance, really.

For those planning on continuing your education after earning an undergraduate degree, you may want to consider online graduate programs as well.

And why not bump up your grades while you’re at it?

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Education, students who took all or part of their class online performed better than those taking the same course in a traditional class setting. The average effect size, or measure of the effect of a variable in an experiment, was +0.24 favoring online courses.

While learning in a virtual classroom might seem unnatural, today’s advanced technology allows for heightened online communication with professors and other classmates.

Video lectures, discussion boards and other interactive content form a unique class setting that invites students to get involved in—rather than fall asleep to—course material.

To learn more about undergraduate courses and graduate programs offered online at Eau Claire, click here.