Is an Online Course Right for You Next Semester?


Teaching Education E-learning Internet Online

Kimberly Wilson, Opinion Editor

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Over 300 courses offered in an online format here at College of DuPage means students have many virtual options to choose from as they register for spring classes. Online courses can rob students of the full learning and college experience. But the effectiveness of online courses depends on several factors.

Online courses have seen a steady rise in popularity in recent years. A article by Jordan Friedman talked about a report released by the Babson Survey Research Group earlier this year. The report stated more than 6.2 million students, most of whom were undergraduates, took at least one online course in the fall 2016 semester. This was a “5.6 percent increase from the previous year.”

Before committing to an online course, it’s important to think about whether or not that specific course would be a good fit for you in an online format. If it’s a subject area you know you’re not as strong as you’d like to be in, or one you’ve struggled with in the past, that might make it more difficult to do well at online.

The more hands-on experience of being in an actual classroom might be a better option for subjects you’re not as confident in. This way you’ll know you will be able to directly ask for help from your professor or a classmate if you’re struggling with a topic.

There’ll be no one in-person to remind you of work you need to get done during an online course. This highlights the time management skills you’ll need to be successful. For online courses, you must be autonomous enough to keep abreast of all the required coursework yourself. Failing to do so may cause you to fall behind.

Not having to attend a physical class multiple times per week can also have a negative effect on attendance. For an online course, you have to be responsible enough to keep your attendance consistent. In an online class, it can be a lot easier to forget about your work if something significant happens in your life. You’ll need a little extra motivation to ensure you’re logging in consistently.

It’s important to keep in mind that online courses will most likely not be as engaging as physical classes often are. Many online courses have repetitive formats that will inevitably get a little boring. So thinking about the experience you want from a particular subject can be helpful in determining whether an online course for that subject is right for you.

It’s also going to be more challenging to build relationships with other students and professors in an online course. So if it’s a class that you’re really interested in and would like to get advice from classmates or a professor on the topic, taking it online might not be the best option.

With online classes, there’s also an increased possibility for academic dishonesty. Resisting any urge to cheat is something all students should do. Cheating undoubtedly robs you of a comprehensive and fulfilling learning experience, which should be a top priority in every class you take.     

There are many advantages that come with online courses. They can allow for extra time in your schedule in terms of not having to be on campus. They’re also a great option if you’re looking for more credit hours to fill up your schedule, among other benefits. But remember to keep certain factors to keep in mind when thinking of enrolling in an online course so you can ensure you have a successful semester.