Taking online courses is a great opportunity, but it definitely has its downfalls. It is a great thing for certain people and with certain teachers. Sometimes you just get a bad student or a bad teacher and that is enough to ruin a good online class. Sometimes you are a great student and you have a great teacher. Certainly there are many different factors with an online course, just like a regular in-class course. There are pros and there are cons, just like everything else. Here’s what you should know about taking an online course;
For each online course that you take, you are expected to spend up to six hours per week in that class. This can be a con, because if you are taking multiple classes, you will end up spending a lot of time reading, studying, participating in discussion boards and completing assignments and quizzes. If you take about two classes, this is an optimum time to spend on your classes, about 12 hours per week. Even if you are a full time student and don’t have a job, taking four online classes is a bit like juggling knives- and you have to keep up with each course.
~Making your own schedule
This, of course is an advantage to taking online classes. You can take them from anywhere and you can do it at any time, as long as you are working within the hours that the class stipulates. You can pace yourself and do all of your work at one time, or you can do it for a few hours a day, whichever you prefer. You can even post in your class at all hours of the day and night which doesn’t tie you down to a ‘schedule’. This is especially helpful in the summer when you have a lot of things you’d like to do.
~Once you’re in, you’re in
Unless you decide within the first two weeks of the class that it isn’t right for you, you may be stuck paying for something that may not work for you. This is a disadvantage because you don’t fully know what to expect in a class until you are a few weeks in. If you give yourself this time, you might get stuck in a class that you can’t navigate, whether it’s because you don’t understand something, the teacher isn’t helpful or responsive, or you simply don’t like the material.
~Dealing with the teacher
When taking an online class you’ll want to make sure that your teacher is responsive to you, and in a timely fashion. If there is no communication from the teacher, you are going to be lost. A teacher can get away with not responding to students, but a student has to do their work or they will be penalized. Some teachers are not good teachers, let-alone online teachers. If you are unfamiliar with a teacher in a regular course, you can still learn from them, but an online teacher is no good without communicating. This could be a disadvantage.
If you feel uncomfortable in a formal class setting or with crowded classes you can take an online class by yourself without feeling peer pressure. This is great for students who might have disabilities or just don’t want to bother with a bunch of classmates. This way, when you participate in any discussions in class you can respond to the students you feel most comfortable with.
All in all, you should go with a classroom setting that you are most comfortable with, especially with a course in which you are unfamiliar or may be difficult for you (like Math or Science). There are advantages and disadvantages to taking online courses but ultimately it is a good experience if all of the factors are in your favor.