Online courses have their advantages and disadvantages

Imagine signing up for classes with the help of your advisor — only they’re a robot. Most people have gone through the frustration of dealing with an automated voice message system over talking to a real person on the phone. And wouldn’t it be nice to have working WiFi on the FIU shuttle bus?

Imagine a college career where everything is backed by innovation and technology. It sounds kind of cool and futuristic, but the world is moving more towards a technological society. While we may have a ways to go before robots are taking over, FIU has been implementing technology into their curriculum in their own way.

A great example of this is online courses. Back in the 90s, the Internet was just in the development stage and conventional wisdom about online courses was different than today.

Now, students utilizing the computer more in their education and work, so it’s only natural that younger people are choosing non-traditional forms of education to start and advance in their careers while completing and furthering their education.

Online courses can be both good and bad. There is the convenience of online courses in relation to study location, time and course duration, and generally these courses cost less than regular classroom academic or trade school course. Online courses also weave in the use of technology as you can work on the course just about anywhere you have computer access, and provide an opportunity to learn new technologies.

Online courses can be a highly effective alternative for those who are mature, self-disciplined and motivated, well organized and have time management skills. However, it can also be an inappropriate learning environment for more dependent learners and those who have difficulty assuming the responsibilities required by online courses.

However, online courses offer limited opportunities to interact face-to-face with professors and other students. This aspect definitely makes it difficult to foster relationships with fellow students and professors, which limit your local networking opportunities. There’s also the lack of campus atmosphere to create social interactions, which can greatly limit your college experience and involvement.

On top of that are the cost of the technology and scheduling.  Each online course cost around $300 or $400 per credit hour, and students may be required to learn new or enhanced computer and troubleshooting skills.

Online courses are also iffy when it comes to assessing the student’s learning, or lack of. Face-to-face lectures provide the connection a student needs to feel motivated and better comprehend the information. Online courses usually just consist of readings, maybe a few exercises and discussions, and then a test. There is hardly any interaction.

Some online courses do offer live Adobe connect lectures, but you don’t actually see the professor or your fellow classmates, so there is still that lack of connection and visuals.

That’s why hybrid courses — courses that combine traditional classroom activities with online instruction —  are heading in the right direction. They utilize the best of both education aspects — technology and in-person connection — to better help the student learn the material and retain it.

A lot of students benefit from the personal interaction with the instructor and classmates, but can also enjoy the convenience of reduced time spent in the traditional classroom.

The fact of the matter is that there are always advantages and disadvantages to every type of learning environment. That’s why it’s critical to consider both the pros and cons of online learning so you can be better prepared to face whatever lies ahead.

You as a student should closely examine the online programs that most interest you and be sure that the program fits your life, and career goals.


Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash.

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