Thursday, November 3, 2011

Are College Online Courses really easier?

Many people take online courses for convenience or because they may have a lot going on work, kids, family etc.
So are online classes easier than on-campus?

In short the answer is no online classes are typically harder.  I have taken several quarters full of online classes at a community college I have discovered online classes are very much harder than on-campus.

One specific reason is because there is not a teacher present to question if you have troubles. In most cases you have to wait days for a response especially if it is the weekend and if the assignment is due Sunday well your out of luck.

Another reason is that it is hard to manage your time correctly. If I can play games or be on facebook it is hard for me to choose homework over fun. If I had a class schedule it would not be as hard for me. You may not have trouble with this but I do so its worth it to mention :).

Another reason is the workload. I found that the workload is almost double compare to a campus class. I figure most teachers think online students are trying to get the easy way out which is commonly thought when taking online classes.

The tests, exams or quizzes are much harder. First off due to cheating most teachers allow only a minute per question so if the test is 45 questions you will have 40-45 minutes to complete the test. Some teachers allow more time but usually not by much. Second it is nerve wrecking (for me at least) to know I have a certain amount of minutes to finish there is usually a timer in the right hand corner.

Typical online courses do not have discussion. Some classes have a discussion post due each week but it is normally only on a certain topic. So for example if the class read 3 chapters for the week on wildlife, dams and erosion the question will be "Name 3 ways erosion occurs" and the other two chapters go undiscussed. I think discussion is a valuable part of learning as it helps you retain information. I struggle with this because discussion helps me learn beyond the textbook.

Have you ever had to turn in work on a friday night? How about a Saturday or Sunday? If you are interested in taking online classes get used to it. Online classes do not always operate the normal Monday through Friday schedule. A majority of my classes have never been on the typical M-F.

Last but not least it may be difficult because you do not have someone physically standing in front of you teaching. Most teachers on campus draw examples, ask questions, and teach you beyond the text. All you have is yourself and your textbook occasionally the internet to explain the actual meaning of the text.

If you are considering online classes and you lead a busy hectic life then start with easy courses and ease your way into the whole online experience. Get a feel for how teachers do things and with easier classes you can get the jist of how the online website works. It is not easy to just jump into an online class you have to learn how to use the website first. I have seen many fail because it took them hours just to figure out how to open assignments or turn them in.


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