As professors and students delve deeper into the technological advances of the 21st century, the question of whether online classes are just as effective as ground classes grows.
According to Lillian Payn, the Academics Technology Coordinator at Palomar College, as of Oct. 31, 2017, it was reported that 769 online courses were issued through Blackboard Learn and 795 were published through Canvas.
Online classes have been growing in popularity in recent years due to the freedom it forwards to the students that enroll in them. Students who takes online classes as opposed to ground are not bound by any class meeting times and commute is never an issue.
“For the most part, I think that ground would be most effective,” student Alyse Schaeffer said. “It’s more disciplined because you’re sitting in a classroom, facing the teacher, one-on-one, and you’re not depending on your own disciplinary acts. But it also depends on the people who do it.”
When taking online classes, students have complete freedom and control over their education. Students can choose to work ahead in class and complete the entire semester’s assignments within a couple of weeks, or can choose to completely put off work until the last minute, because work is not consistently due throughout the week, but instead is due all at once at the end of the week.
“It is difficult to answer the questions of which is more effective, because I don’t believe the effectiveness is based on the modality, online or face-to-face,” Kinesiology teacher Kelly Falcone said in an email. “I believe effectiveness is in the way the course is designed, whether it is face-to-face or online.”
Students must be very self driven, responsible and motivated if taking an online class because it can be easy to fall behind, forget, lose track or overall just not learn what they need to.
“Lack of physical presence and focus on assignments and deadlines can be some of the challenges of learning online,” Lisa Carmichael said, a teacher at Palomar College that teaches both ground and online classes in Digital Broadcasting Arts. “It’s so important for students to keep up with the assignments.”
But when trying to determine effectiveness, we must look at both sides of the situation.
“What I think is the most awesome thing about online learning is that is can be done anytime from anyplace,” Falcone said.
Although concerns remain about whether online courses provide the same caliber of education as ground classes, students such as Schaeffer believe that online classes certainly have their merits.
“You get to learn at your own pace and even if your teacher isn’t good, it forces you to learn more, stop acting up and start researching on your own,” Schaeffer said. “If you’re very independent you definitely can get the same amount of education. It’s still a class.”
The effectiveness of online classes seem to depend more on the student than on the class itself. Everyone learns differently and has different levels of independence and discipline, which automatically determines how a student will do.
“Online classes are not for everybody. In order to be successful in an online class you need to consider and appreciate what kind of learner you are,” photography teacher Amy Caterina said. “It’s college so it’s up to them to do the work.”
It’s up to the student to determine whether they want to make the most of the class or not, whether to read the book or not and so forth. When taking an online class, it’s important to know your learning style and ask yourself if learning online would be something you could keep up with.
Looking towards the future, Palomar College does plan to expand their online classes, but which classes will be offered is still in discussion. However, eight to 12 percent of our classes have been given online in the past six years, so we can expect to see a lot more online classes being offered.