Updated: Feb 19, 2020
by Gabby Eubanks
Though online classes are seen as being more efficient, they have a tendency to feel like you have a never-ending stream of homework and not much of an interactive classroom experience. If you’re enrolled in college, or even high school, you most likely have taken some kind of online class.
As the internet becomes more efficient and accessible, online classes have become more popular. According to insidehighered.com, the growth of online classes has risen “33.1 percent from 31.1 percent in 2016.”
More people are experiencing both the good and bad of the online classes they are often required to take.
I’ve experienced classes online that were both interactive and moderately fun, for being schoolwork, but the majority of online classes use assignments to make up for the lost participation points that would go toward your GPA.
This compensation may fill the gap left by the lack of class time, but it also adds to the work-load of the students involved and can vicariously negatively affect your grade. In-class participation points can be achieved easily, but online assignment points add up if they are continually low-quality.
Students can even forget about their online courses and fail them because of it. Jacob Jenema, a junior majoring in psychology, admitted, “I forgot I had the class for two weeks and tried to go on, but had to withdraw. I couldn’t dig myself out at that point.”
Though a “W” looks better than an “F” on your transcript, some people cannot afford to lose the time that was spent on the class and could possibly even need the class to ensure full-time status.
Online classes are appealing because they don’t require attendance per say and because they are flexible. People who work full-time or have multiple part-time jobs are more able to take the class.
According to Bestcolleges.com, “More than half (59%) of students surveyed have children, and half reported that they are employed,” meaning these students need a flexible and portable form of schoolwork to adhere to their busy lifestyles.
Though portability and accessibility are necessary for these lifestyles, the amount of work given to replace class activities can often be more time consuming than the actual class itself. Bestcollegesonline.com reports that “These courses will require just as much reading, homework and writing as their in-class counterparts — if not more to make up for the lack of face-to-face contact.”
Dr. James Walters, associate professor of religion and a frequent teacher of online classes, said one of the drawbacks for instructors is that “you do not get immediate feedback from students on whether or not they understand the content.”
But Walters also said he doesn’t believe that an online class necessarily has to be less “interactive,” because techniques can be implemented to create a more interactive learning environment for the students.
“The key to making online classes more interactive is to build diverse kinds of resources...” he said. He also recommends that teachers give assignments that allow students to interact with one another and enable room for creativity.
So in the hands of a thoughtful teacher, online classes are capable of being interactive in their own way, but if set up without much planning, they will be more of a chore than a learning experience.