The ubiquity of the internet has radically changed the way people do almost everything, from shopping to education, and not necessarily for the better.
The online class is one of the latest consequences of this digital age, and it’s rapidly growing in popularity.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly one-third of all American college students took at least one class online in 2016.
While these classes do have some benefits, such as holding flexible hours and not making students commute to campus, there are also large drawbacks.
One issue that online classes pose is the increased amount of responsibility put on students. Because these classes are self-paced, students need to have above-average time management skills.
Unlike in-person classes where professors will remind students of their due dates and help students keep on task, online classes have very little structural guidance.
This is especially true for freshmen and those who struggle to balance their workload with in-person classes.
Another drawback of these classes is the stark lack of physical interaction offered with classmates and professors. Such interaction is key for many students to retain important information.
One study shows that students from a lower-income background and those who are less academically prepared consistently underperform while enrolled in pure online classes.
Another study found that students who took online courses not only did poorly in those classes but also in future ones, and were more likely to drop out of college later on.
Some of the best aspects of in-person classes are not always obvious. Meeting in person allows students to interact with professors and peers and establishes professional relationships.
Those who take in-person classes earn credit while at the same time accomplishing one of the most important goals in college—networking.
Students looking to find work in their field after graduation not only have to academically perform well, but they also need to make connections with potential employers.
Networking, therefore, is one of the most valuable activities students can do while in college, and much of it can be done inside the classroom.
Professors often take advantage of face-to-face classes by inviting guest speakers working in their chosen field to address their students.
These meetings can be a great chance for students to potentially learn unique information they couldn’t gain from an online lecture. It can also help them land jobs in the future.
My podcasting professor invited guests to his class nearly every week, all of them currently working in radio broadcasting or creating their own podcasts.
Those meetings introduced me to several people that inspired me to pursue a career in podcasting myself, something I wouldn’t have done on my own.
Students who take classes online miss out on these valuable opportunities.
Online classes don’t provide students with the same opportunities or experiences that in-person ones do, and shouldn’t hold the same academic weight.