My Thoughts on Online Courses (Rough Draft)

To Whom It May Concern:


I am currently a third year student with senior standing; I am a double major in English and Psychology.  Most semesters, I carry an 18 to 21 credit load, and my current GPA is 3.89.  I truthfully enjoy going to class, and getting the opportunity to learn new things.  As a student, I find the current push for online courses and degrees to be distressing.  


Over the course of my undergraduate career, I have taken two courses online.  Both were through the Psychology department.  I have never been a fan of taking classes online, but I selected both of these courses because I needed them for my degree, they fit into my schedule, and they were the only options available to me at the time in which I needed them.  The professor was very good, but I believe he would have been even better in person.  I do not believe I took much away from either course, though I did achieve an A in both.  


In my opinion, there is a common misconception that online classes take less of a student’s time.  This simply isn’t true.  A student seeking to truly learn not only has to read their textbook, (occasionally multiple times for comprehension as there is no accompanying lecture), and they must keep up on discussion forums and due dates as well as regular homework assignments.  They have to make flashcards and study notes as they would for a regular class.  Many students don’t have the time to do this, or choose not to put in the level of time and dedication that truly learning from an online course requires.  Online courses make it much easier for students to procrastinate, and they also allow students to fudge on coursework.  On the screen, it is very clear what is and is not expected as well as what material does and does not need to be known.  In many online courses, speaking from personal experience, it is possible to learn only what you need to in order to do well and no more.  Online courses give exams online, which is not an adequate way to measure student comprehension of the material.  These exams allow for students to use both their notes and their textbooks, despite instructions to the contrary, and an especially quick student can look things up in the book while taking the test and avoid note-taking altogether.  Some professors set time limits in an effort to avoid this, but not all of them.  When a student is juggling many other classes, a job, and a life outside of campus, it is much more conducive to take the easy way out.  


When in the classroom environment, there is a greater motivational factor for the students to go above and beyond what they need to do in order to pass a class.  We have some amazing professors on our campus who possess the ability to bring out the best in their students by allowing them to discuss and debate challenging material and grow as both people and thinkers.  By getting us to talk and process information amongst ourselves, we learn to think for ourselves and form their our own opinions.  This is when we truly begin to learn.  There is no mode for this discussion to happen in an online class format.  While the professors of these online courses are still amazing, they have a greatly decreased chance of inspiring true learning within their students than they would in an in-person environment.  


I am not stating that all online courses are bad.  Online courses are great for the responsible, self-sufficient, independent students.  However, there is much more to be gained from meeting in a classroom, face to face.  


Thank you for taking the time to read this.


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