I did not know what to expect when I signed up for two online classes entering my freshman year of college. While I had never had a class where all the lectures, assignments and projects were entirely done online with minimal instructor interaction, I was open to try a new way of learning.
After three weeks of experiencing my first online classes, I want to warn all students, especially first-year ones, to be very wary of selecting an online course.
It is best to avoid them altogether.
Lectures are an integral part of the learning experience and seeing a professor explain the material in depth is incredibly beneficial. As a visual and auditory learner, I thrive in a classroom environment where I am able to follow along with my professor as they delve into the subject that they are teaching. In a classroom environment I focus not only on what the professor is teaching, but how they teach it.
Most people find that seeing what they are learning is beneficial for their needs as well.
A majority of online classes are hosted in Blackboard which brings about a whole new set of problems. The Blackboard system has its own issues as is, and those are especially highlighted in online classes.
In an online class, students are essentially on their own in regards to learning the material and making sure the required course material is finished in a timely manner. This is a crucial part of being a student, but deadlines can be hazy at times, and without weekly face-to-face communication with a professor, some can go unnoticed to a busy student.
These courses require the student to take on more responsibility than if they were to be in a traditional classroom setting. Contrary to how high school teachers nag their students about being independent, it is actually helpful to have a professor audibly remind you of assignments and tests that are due instead of completely relying on an online program.
While some may call this irresponsible or neglectful, I call it resourceful and collaborative since an instructor provides college students with an extra aid to alleviate their already heavy workload. While many students are ready to be independent as first-years, others may need more of an adjusting period, one that online courses do not provide in the student’s new environment.
In short, online classes are a nuisance. I highly encourage freshmen to avoid taking them their first year of college. While most freshmen think they are ready for that level of independence, they will quickly find themselves overwhelmed.
Get familiar with face-to-face lectures and personal interaction with your professors. I promise it will help your freshman year run smoother if you have the time to go and sit in a lecture and let your professor do the teaching rather than trying to play the role of both student and instructor as you scramble to finish the course to the best of your ability.