i Should Colleges Switch to Online Courses? | COLLEGE WRITING: DEBATE(S) IN HIGHER EDCUATION

Caleb Lefeber

There are major changes coming up in the world of education. Colleges are starting to transition to online classes. How do online courses work? Online classes are courses that students can take from the comfort of their home. In other words, people don’t have to go to class. Online classes at home, doesn’t that just sound relaxing? You have your nice soft sofa, a big screen TV, music playing out of a Bluetooth speaker…One big reason universities are switching to online classes is because they are cheaper. This way more students are able to go to their school because the price isn’t as overwhelming. Many people agree with the choice of switching to online courses. But I think that switching to all online courses will overall hurt the learning of students. In my opinion, schools should not change to online learning and should stick to conventional classes and still have online assignments.

Having normal in-school classes will allow students to develop many necessary communication and leadership skills that they wouldn’t be able to learn in online courses. Liberal arts education works the best in conventional classrooms, rather than in online classes. Fareed Zakaria believes that liberal arts schools teach students valuable skills they will need in their everyday lives: “The second great advantage of a liberal education is that it teaches you how to speak and speak your mind.” Students will develop social skills which they can’t acquire through online interactions. They can only learn these communication skills by interacting with other humans, not through online learning because there isn’t any face to face interactions. They will be able to communicate, collaborate and build teamwork and leadership skills with other students. It will allow kids to learn how to work in a group instead of having to do everything on their own. They will learn to talk in front of large audiences and debate on what they think/ know is true. If they took online courses, they wouldn’t be able to learn pretty much any of these important skills. So when it comes to the real world, conventional classes will better prepare the student for what has yet to come.

In conventional classes, students have the ability to ask questions to the teacher or other students face to face. For online classes students don’t have this option, and can’t ask questions in person. They have to email the teacher to ask a question, and who knows how long it would take to hear back from them. It’s just always nice to be able to hear the teacher’s voice, and to know you can always ask a question when needed. Even USA Today’s poll agrees with us, “78% of more than 1,000 students surveyed still believe it is easier to learn in a classroom”. Many students believe that it is easier to learn in the conventional classroom rather than on online courses. This is because of their different learning styles. There are three different learning styles in this world: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. For some people they learn the best by hearing and seeing (auditory and visual). So for a normal class students are able to hear the teacher talk, and students can see the teacher work out problems of some sort. For online courses these are not possible. Students wouldn’t be able to learn at their best potential taking online courses.

Another reason schools should not switch to online courses is because students will pay more attention. Jonathan Marks is a politics professor that agrees that online classes can be very distracting: “peer assessment in a class of thirty is very different than peer assessment in a class of several thousand.” Even though it does sound more relaxing, there are a lot more distractions. Students would get carried away, and instead of going to a normal class for about an hour, students will be on and off the online course for several hours. There would be too many distractions for them to learn. Instead of being distracted and taking forever to complete their homework, students could go to a normal class with a teacher where students are demanded to pay attention and take notes. Overall I think students would pay more attention in normal classes and they would get a hell of a lot more accomplished in that time period.

Also to go along with the distractions, online courses allow students to procrastinate more frequently. Since students know that they can go online whenever they want, they will most likely wait until the last minute, right before they go to bed, to go over the course. Oregon St. University conducted a research experiment about how online education leads to procrastination: “Lack of interest seems to play a role in procrastination.” Students feel detached and less interested in the course material if they have to look at a screen. If a student’s friend texted them and asked if they wanted to hang out, the student would be more likely say yes if they were taking online classes since they know they can take the course whenever. Then they get back at midnight and realize that they haven’t done their work yet. Since conventional students have to go to class, teachers will tell the students when the homework is due and kids will be more likely to focus on education first. They have to go to class at the set time. They don’t have any other options, either attend the class or fall behind. This will encourage students to not procrastinate and make getting their work done the top priority.

There are numerous reasons why online courses are less affective for students’ learning than conventional classrooms. Students can’t learn multiple valuable life skills that they would be able to learn in the conventional classroom such as communication, leadership and teamwork. Online classes can only be helpful to people of certain learning styles and online courses cause many more distractions than normal classes. All in all, normal classes are more beneficial to help students in their educational progression.

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