Why online courses work for some people

This is inspired by Nathan Degrunchy’s post on how online coursework sucks. Everything said in this post is my own opinion and what works for some people may not work for you.

Think back to the last time you were physically in a classroom with other people, for some people that may be a long time ago, and for some that may only be a few days ago. Think about all those other people around you, think about the person at the front of the room (some may call them a teacher, and some may call them a professor) talking about something. This is the experience you get while you get taught in-person, but in-person is not the only way to learn. You can do it online, while it is different and some people may not like it, there are people (like myself) who do find online courses work for them.

Online courses allow you to get the work done at anytime during a set period of time, this time period is usually a week but you can get the work done at 6am or at midnight or another time, all you have to do is get the work done. This does allow you to work when you work best, but it does require discipline as you know you have work to get done, you have so much time to get it done in that some may not get it done until the last minute or may simply forget to check that work is due.

Online courses also allow you to do it anywhere you want, as long as you have a good internet connection which there isn’t everywhere in the world. This way you can work where you work best, if you work best at your home in your pajamas or in an office in formal wear then you get to choose. It does take some time to find out what works best for you, and sometimes you may not have that time if you suddenly have to do online courses.

When you do online courses you don’t get distracted by what others in your class are doing, but when you do online classes you can easily get distracted by the rest of the internet and what it has to offer. This also requires discipline, and you have to allow yourself to take breaks every once in a while.

What happens when you don’t understand something, in-person you will most likely ask those around you at the risk of sounding stupid, ask the teacher outside of class, or just pretend you understand it. When you do an online class (that isn’t live) you can pause the lesson to figure out what the lesson is talking about. Then go back and continue the lesson from where you paused it. While this may take you longer to complete the lesson it does allow you to fully understand the lesson.

There are times in-person where you have to quickly answer something, then after you said it you realize what you said didn’t come out the way you wanted it to. For any online classes that aren’t live you have time to craft your response. Some of you reading this may not think you want this, but in fact we all should have time to think.

When you don’t have scheduled classes you decide the pace in which you complete the work, as long as it’s done before the due date. This means everyone can learn at their own pace. This also means that the system used for these courses should be easy to use that allows the student to see when things are due.

Many classes in-person tend to give out physical paper, which some may find helpful, but some may find just take up more room. With online classes everything is online and if you feel the need to have a physical copy then there is the ability to. This does mean the computer in which you do your online class on will have to be organized so you can easily find the digital item that you need.

Sometimes when in-person you may be forced to use certain software, or you may get weird looks from others in the class if you use some software that the rest of the class isn’t using. There may be various reasons for this, you can’t afford the expensive software everyone is using (there are reasons why certain software is so expensive), or you just want to try out another similar software, and there are many other reasons why. However when you do online classes you can use any software that fits your needs as long as you submit the work in a way that can be properly graded.

When you go to in-person classes it will take you time and money to get there, there are many ways to get to places, but none of them are free (some have thought about public transit being free). If you do online classes you do have to pay for your internet which can be expensive and that may be one thing that holds a number of people back from being able to take online classes.

Some of the disadvantages to having online classes include, some say it’s harder to make friends (or colleagues) since you can’t really just say hi and see someone’s body language, after a while you miss the in-person aspect, having a good to-do list is required to know when things are due, drop-out rates can be pretty high.

There are many advantages and disadvantages to doing online courses and I overall think we need a bit of both in-person and online courses.

More / further reading:

Online Classes vs. Traditional Classes: Pros and Cons – My College Guide
Nathan Degrunchy’s post on how online coursework sucks
Online vs. in-person courses. Which ones are better? – Mapping Ignorance
Online-only college classes pose some distinct challenges for instructors – WHYY

I’m publishing this as part of 100 Days To Offload.


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