College Blog: The issues with online learning

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This spring I am going to be taking my first online course. I was a little wary when I signed up because I have always enjoyed the traditional classroom setting. I like getting to know my classmates and being able to ask the professor questions in person if I am confused about something.

At RIT students have a wide variety of online classes to choose from, with the opportunity to complete their entire degree online if they wish. And even though popular concerns, like how to get help from a professor, are addressed by the institution some students are still hesitant to enroll in an online class.

The sentiment I received from a lot of RIT students was that they had never taken a class online because they were worried about the experience. Some thought that it would be a challenge to get work done since there often are no set class times. Others were worried that having to learn a lot of material on their own would make an online class more difficult.

Joanie McDonough, a second year journalism major, said that she can certainly see why students take online classes. For instance, there’s the viewpoint that it is less time consuming than traditional courses. But online learning isn’t a likely option for her. McDonough said she prefers smaller classes where she can develop relationships with her teachers and classmates. “I feel like it would be very impersonal and I don’t know if I would like that,” McDonough said.

Tom Mordovancey, a fifth year mechanical engineering technology major, echoed McDonough’s sentiment. During his time at RIT he has taken two online classes. He said that he often felt alone in the class because of the lack of interaction with other students. Mordovancey added, however, that online classes were convenient for him.

“I was already overloading my courses so I figured it might make my course load a little easier,” Mordovancey said.

After these experiences with online classes Mordovancey said that he would not be inclined to take more online classes. He found these classes to be harder than traditional classes for a few reasons, including the difficulty of contacting the professor and the amount of effort required to get clarification on topics he didn’t understand.

After hearing all of this I felt even more nervous that an online class would be really difficult for me compared to my previous classes. I looked online and found a few tips for succeeding in online classes. Some of these include creating an ideal study environment, being proactive and practicing strong time management skills.

So when spring quarter starts in a few weeks I am going to try out some of these tips and hope that they will help my first online learning experience be a success.

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