For many, it is a frightening thought that their children and grandchildren may miss out on the traditional classroom experience. As education technology and faceless communication progress it is becoming evident that in some ways (especially for the college student) traditional lecture type classes are beginning to be phased out. For many, especially the millennial generation, online classes are the preferred method when choosing the next semester’s round of classes. Lots of valuable instruction is lost when students take online classes. Traditional lecture classes are important because of the interaction with instructors and other students. The online class archetype is it just another way for the millennial generation to pull themselves further away from normal human interaction. Nothing can ever replace the lecture style class and interaction of class discussion.
My experience with online classes was a very negative and actually affected my GPA. I took a music course to fill out my roster thinking that since I already knew the material that the class would be a slam dunk for me. I was wrong in my assumption. I got a C in a class that I would have aced if I were in a classroom with an instructor. If you happen to get an instructor that has a poor communication aesthetic you may miss integral parts of assignments. I found that in many cases I did not know what questions were important until after the fact. There were too many missing pieces to the puzzle. The direct reason for my poor performance in the course was not the material; it understanding the framework of the course itself.
Many students have circumstances where online courses are their best options. They take advantage of the cyber university archetype. There are certain personality types that thrive in the self-paced environment; it just takes a disciplined mindset. If this is you, maybe you have found your niche. There are advantages: No learning pace constraints, you can study at your convenience, You can have virtual discussions with other students without physically attending a study group, and you are able to reflect upon the material carefully before moving ahead. There are many positive angles, “Although there is an important role that traditional education plays in the world, online education has opened the door for so many working professionals, specific learners, mothers and even those with social anxiety. Our society as a whole has more opportunity to learn because of online education and just like any other course, you get out of it what you put into it,” said Jennifer Mulford and MCC Computer Science student. Students are able to use MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) but are the online learning experiences better? While they do offer great alternatives they are not the better option.
While they do offer an great alternatives they are not the better option. Another problem with online courses, if they are large, is multiple-choice exams. This can really be the case for upper division courses. Essay exams are a more efficient way to gauge someone’s knowledge on a subject. It’s still possible to give essay exams and homework problems for online classes with a small number of students, but grading written work is problematic when these courses are scaled up to hundreds of students to cut costs. According to an article in the Fiscal Times the potential for massive, open, online courses (“MOOCS”) to widen and improve educational opportunities has been widely noted, and many see broadening educational opportunities as a remedy for rising inequality. Some observers even predict that low-cost, quality online education will mean the end of traditional brick and mortar institutions. This is an absolutely frightening thought to me. It means the entire education system will change. Most Americans already think that the education system is in need of an overhaul, but this is absolutely not the solution.
At the University level, some classes can have up to 150 students enrolled, and many experts agree that the number of enrolled students is a significant concern. They urge students to thoroughly think all your options through before deciding on an online course, especially if it’s a course that is important to your degree. In large classes students seem to be less likely to report progress on communication skills and creative capacities, such as writing, inventing, designing, and performing. These are the types of classes that have to be experienced in the flesh. You just cannot get the same experience staring into a computer screen.There is nothing that will ever replace the “Brick and Mortar” archetype of classroom lecture.
Although our education system itself needs to be re-evaluated, it is not the time to replace tradition for a cheap solution that the jury is still out on. The attitude that working with instructors and fellow students is not something of value is a worrisome trend we are beginning to see. The point here is that online curriculum’s are not always a bad way to educate yourself, in fact many use the flexibility to their advantage. But, the idea of phasing out the traditional classroom model is an obscene notion and should not be considered by any school board.