Point-Counterpoint: Online classes are perfect for independent students

Kelly Wynne, News Editor

I love online classes. For someone like me with classroom anxiety and a general lack of focus, online classes provide a much-needed escape from day-to-day campus life. Over my four semesters at COD I have taken seven online classes in a wide variety of subjects.

I have heard so many misconceptions about online learning environments. A big one is that by taking classes online, you are giving up the right to retaining any of the information you study. I can admit that two of the classes I have taken online haven’t benefited me in any way. Still, the others I have taken have engaged my interest and been a huge benefit to my education.

I have also had many people tell me that because I take many classes online, I must not spend any time on schoolwork. The truth is, spend at least 10 hours on each online class every week, sometimes much more. Between videos, discussion board responses, essays, quizzes and test, depending on the class, I would argue that I spend more time on these classes than I do on on-campus classes. I may be sitting on my couch, but there is no bell to dismiss my class. I work until I have completed the assignments and I work until I understand the material.

What is lacking is peer interaction. In the majority of online classes, this is made up for with hefty discussion board requirements. The average per week is around 5 400-word well-researched responses per class.

As I mentioned before, two of my online classes did absolutely nothing in furthering my intelligence level. I don’t amount this to the learning medium. Everyone takes a few classes in their life that just present uninteresting material. Whether sitting on your couch or in a classroom, nothing can make you pay enough attention to material that bores you. We’ve all been there. Maybe it’s because of the teacher or the student’s personal interest level. There are a million reasons that a class may not register with a student, but I don’t believe online classes are the first thing to blame if a student is not learning. If anything, I think a student may learn more because they are teaching themselves the material.

Online classes work well for me because I have always been better as a self-taught student. Online learning allows me to take my education into my own hands. I know that if I don’t understand the material I cannot blame it on a teacher. I have to blame it on my own lack of attention and lack of care. Because of this, I have been nothing but successful in an online classroom.

I don’t think there is an accurate way to measure the effectiveness of an online class, simply because every person learns differently. For someone like me who pays more attention when I am in control, these classes give me a true sense of freedom and responsibility. Someone who learns better in a classroom setting may find himself or herself failing to stay on top of assignments without constant reminders and a physical representation of a teacher who can answer questions on the spot. The only way to accurately measure your ability to flourish in an online learning environment is to try it for yourself.