E-Learning is Excellent

Online learning versus tradition classrooms-which is better?

Online courses, e-learning. computer-based instruction. Whatever the name, this method of teaching is rapidly becoming popular in universities across the nation because of the flexibility offered to the students and the teacher. Instead of having a designated meeting time multiple days a week, online classes allow students to have a more flexible schedule to do classwork wherever they want, at a time that is more convenient (though there are deadlines, just like traditional classes!). LMU offers several classes each semester in an online format in order to make scheduling a little bit easier for students, especially those who commute from home. Personally, I’ve taken three courses as online classes since my freshman year, and I’m currently enrolled in three online classes. There are several reasons why I chose to take online classes, and while I enjoy the non-traditional environment provided by these classes, there are also some challenges that I had to be aware of going into these online classes.

Unique Learning Styles

Everyone learns differently, and online classes are more accommodating for these variations.

There’s different styles of online classes. My Cultural Diversity professor records his lectures over his presentations. Some weeks I’ll have a lecture to watch and a post in a discussion board, while other weeks I’ll have “guided questions” that I must answer while reading the book to make sure I get the most out of my text. Other classes, like American Citizenship and Civic Life, include more reading and writing a journal on each chapter, as well as answering a discussion question set forth by the professor. My American Literature professor has weekly units set up, with a convenient schedule included in the syllabus so that an original discussion post and quiz are due by midnight on Tuesday of the week, and at least one response to a classmate’s post is due by Thursday. While this schedule seems to be constraining, it’s actually very helpful because I’m constantly checking to see what my classmates have posted and I don’t get behind, which is very easy to do in an online class! Instead of recording lectures, this professor writes out her lectures to give us background on authors that we are reading about and includes some questions that make us contemplate different parts of the text that we may have looked over initially. She also responds to everyone’s original post to help clarify or answer questions we may have had.

Flexibility

Between club meetings, band practices, and my Ambassador duties, my time during the day is very precious. Online classes let me attend class when it’s most convenient for me, like on the weekends or in the evening when I’m finished with everything else. I do most of my American Literature classwork on the weekends when I have time to sit down and devote a couple of hours to interpreting passages and formulating a discussion post. For Cultural Diversity, I usually work on my assignment earlier in the week so I can go back and review my answers the next day before submitting it. Online classes also allow me to spend more time reviewing my peer’s posts and gain understanding from their insights to the text that I may not have picked up when I read it. When we’re debating a topic (instead of having to respond instantly), I get a chance to think about what my opponent said and compose an eloquent reply. I also like that I don’t have to try and rush to a professor’s office between classes to get a questions answered; since classes are online, we have a “Virtual Office” that we can leave questions that the professor or another student can answer. The professor checks on the course daily, so you know your question will be addressed.

Self-Motivation

My checklists to make sure I don't fall behind on my classwork.

My multiple checklists to make sure I don’t fall behind on my classwork.

Self-motivation is definitely one of the major challenges of online classes. Because of the schedule flexibility, I don’t see my professor two or three times a week and get a verbal reminder, “Hey, read these pages for next class, and be working on your papers that are due in two weeks.” I must have good time management skills to make sure they meet the deadlines put forth by the professor, which is usually 11:59 p.m. on the due date. I accomplish this by logging in multiple times a day to check on my classes, and by having three separate reminders that I mark off when I complete an assignment or post. In cases like American Literature, where I have the schedule for the whole semester by the first week of classes, I put down a month of assignments at a time. By putting a month at a time down, I know what will be coming up so I’m not shocked three days before a paper is due. First, I record it in my physical planner; then, I write it on my “Master List” where I have assignments for each class and general “life things” that I must get done; next, I input it into a wonderful app on my phone called iStudiez Pro that will remind me at a set time that I have “X Assignment Due at 11:59 p.m. on Date”. Finally, after I’ve completed the reading, quiz, and discussion post, I go back to the schedule in the syllabus and check it off. While this seems time consuming and redundant, it keeps me from missing an assignment because I didn’t know I had something due. I have learned a lot about time management with my online classes and I know that I learn and study better in my traditional classes because I’ve figured out how to use the most of my limited time.

Online classes are quite enjoyable and definitely allow for a unique experience for mandatory classes like American Literature and American Citizenship and Civic Life. For me, these classes lend themselves well to online classes because of the amount of discussion expected in a typical class. Science classes, like my beloved biochemistry, would not be nearly as effective as online classes because the concepts are harder to grasp; students rely more heavily on the professor to be able to physically point out differences in two structures or to help them visualize the functions of enzymes. If you haven’t taken an online course yet, talk with your advisor and see if there are any being offered that you are interested in; it’s a great experience!

Are you interested in taking online classes, or have you taken an online class? Tell me in the comments! If you have questions about learning online, email me!

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Posted on February 11, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I always love ready Julie’s columns-informative, and easy to follow!

  1. Pingback: Tech It Out | From The Horse's Mouth

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