Online Classes

Online Classes

Online classes have become popular for a number of reasons. Online classes allow for flexible hours giving the learner control of their schedule while still teaching them the material necessary. Also, the classes are generally cheaper than traditional college. Although there are some downfalls, the student must choose what course style is right for them.

Online vs. Face-to-Face

There have been studies done to determine whether online classes are more advantageous than traditional, face-to-face classes. In one study conducted by Roanne Angiello, it was concluded that online classes are more efficient at teaching students than traditional classes. Although Angiello found mixture of the two was the best; the online students tested better on the material. The study found that the amount of time spent on the task affected the results. The time the online learners spent on the material is the cause of their achievement over the traditional learners (___).

Another experiment was conducted to compare student outcomes in an undergraduate research course taught using both internet-based learning and traditional learning. People enroll in traditional courses for a number of reasons including human interaction, a decreased opportunity to procrastinate, and immediate feedback. Reasons for selecting Internet courses included cost, convenience, and flexibility. One can pick when to do the work depending on when it fits into his schedule. After the experiment was over, there was no significant difference in test scores between the two groups on their grades at the end of the course (Leasure, A. Renee; Davis, Lisa; Thievon, Susan L., 2000). Below is a comparison of the grades of students in online courses versus traditional classrooms.

Traditional Classroom
Grade Percent Receiving Grade Number Receiving Grade
A 13% 6
B 43.50% 20
C 34.80% 16
D 6.55% 3
F 2.20% 1

Online Class
Grade Percent Receiving Grade Number Receiving Grade
A 28% 5
B 33.30% 6
C 38.90% 7
D 0.00% 0
F 0.00% 0

Tablet PC’s

A tablet PC is a laptop-like device designed with a touchscreen so that the owner can write notes on the electronic device. Professors of online courses use them to provide handwritten comments on papers submitted to them. Faculty members stated that they find tablet PCs very easy and efficient to use in providing instant feedback to their students. The students report that they like having the more personal “human-touch” of the comments given by the tablet PC (Steinweg, Williams, Warren, ___).

Opinions of Online classes

Surveys were conducted to determine whether people preferred online classes and why this was so. When questioned, Dr. Ginger Sabine from Northwestern Technical Institute said although she prefers being able to read her students faces if they are having a problem in a face-to-face class, she admits there are a number of advantages to online classes. She says she “has folks in my classes who wouldn’t be in school otherwise.” She has students that work 12-hour shifts, international students, and stay at home mothers (Yates). These classes allow flexible hours for those with hectic schedules and cost less than traditional schooling.

A study was preformed to determine whether personality type played a role in class type selection. The study gave 166 females who were taking or had previously taken four or more online classes Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and a Likert-type questionnaire which asked why they preferred online classes over traditional ones. The results showed that introverts preferred online classes and extroverts preferred the traditional classroom (Harrington, Loffredo). Rick Harrington says that “students who preferred online classes indicated their rank ordered preference was because of convenience, the enjoyment of computer technology, and a desire for innovation. Those who preferred face-to-face classes reported they were influenced by the class structure appealing to their need to learn through listening and by their desire to better gauge the emotional reactions of others in the class” (Harrington, Lafredo). Overall, to succeed in learning, one should pick a class style that fits their personality and needs.

Pros of Online Classes

Online classes combine audio, video, color, graphics, and animation to stimulate student interest. Students respond to messages that are posted on a forum or website at a time convenient for them. Christopher Cox, a child actor in Columbia, Maryland says "You're able to learn at your own pace and you also can have help whenever you need it from the teacher." The teachers are extremely accommodating of students’ schedule and needs.

Also, anonymity plays a role in online classes. When one is in a large lecture hall with 500 other students, they may feel shy asking a question. With online classes, this problem is solved. Students can post their question on the class blog, email other students, or email their teacher. Garrett says, “Students who might have been intimidated to speak up in classrooms often find their voice online” ( ). The teachers are generally more forgiving of deadlines and offer much more leeway than traditional colleges.

In an attempt to make online classes accessible to a variety of students, virtual laboratories have been created. In these labs, Richard Garrett says chemists-to-be can tests their skills and even conduct experiments that might be too dangerous or too costly in the real world ( ). This is a remarkable advancement in the world of online education.

Cons of Online Classes

Although the pros sound very appealing, take the cons into consideration. There is limited subject matter offered through online courses. For some professions, traditional college is necessary. Also, there is a lack of social interaction with online classes. When an online course is taken the student has to be his or her own disciplinarian. No one is there telling them to finish their homework or learn the material; the student is their own boss (The Pros and Cons of Online College). When one has a question, they might not receive an immediate answer. Instead, they may have to await the reply of their professor or fellow classmate.

Growth of Online Classes

Throughout the last two decades, online classes have been growing in popularity. In the 1997-1998 school year, only one third of the colleges in the US reported offering online classes. In 2000-2001, one half of the colleges reported offering online classes. Northwestern Technical College has one-third of the faculty teach 20 classes online to 179 students. These include students from all around the world. According to Sloan Consortium Report, online enrollment increased from 1.98 million in 2003 to 2.35 million in 2004. (___) This popularity may be due to many reasons including flexibility in hours for soon-to-be moms, working parents going back to college, or students interested in the learning styles online classes create.

In the last year, the online education sector has grown 13%. Nowadays, about one in four students have taken some form of online education. In 2002, this number was one in ten. This could be due to the rising college prices, which is about 8% a year. Only about 40% of students who start college actually graduate, but online classes has been raising this number ( ).

President Barack Obama poured $500 million into online classes and the necessary materials in an attempt to make college more accessible during the recession. .

This growth is creating a new learning culture. Before computers were invented, traditional classrooms were the only place on could go to learn. Today with the development of computers and the internet, online classes have come into the picture. Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business Professor predicts half of kindergarten through high school students will take online classes within the next decade. This just goes to show how popular online classes are becoming in this new culture. If online education really becomes the school of the future, our children’s generation will all be more knowledgeable than us with technology and it will be completely integrated into their education. Say goodbye to chalkboards and textbooks and hello to the technologies the futures hold.