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Opinion

Student examines pros and cons of online classes

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November 7, 2014

Class sign up is just around the corner and you will have a choice to make: online classes or regular, in-person classes.

Do you need to organize your classes to make them all fit? Online classes help you avoid all that but at the same time, online classes can be a lot of work. Online classes require different types of skills than regular classes. You need to be aware of these skills before you take on this difference.

Obviously, the basic difference between online classes and regular classes is the fact that you don’t need to show up to a particular building at a particular time. Online classes have the clear advantage that you can do the work whenever you want, in your pajamas, randomly outside, or even in a foreign country.

Online classes also have the bonus that your schedule is a bit looser. Say you’re an evening person; you can do your assignments whatever time works best for you. This is especially good if you have a job. Before your job, after your job, when you have the time, go do the work.

However, taking an online class takes more work than an in-person class. You don’t usually have a teacher that will remind you to turn in assignments or the pressure of a weekly routine to keep you on track.

Online classes require self-discipline and determination. Online classes usually start out with full participation but as the weeks progress, the students slowly taper out.

Not everyone can handle an online class, yet as the current requirements stand, you have to take at least one class online: gym. Several of my friends have taken that class, gotten ahead, yet then forgot about the class and found themselves on the edge of failing.

You need to stay on top of your classes, online ones especially. It doesn’t take much for you to get behind, and suddenly your class might as well be speaking Greek.

Another challenge you need to be aware of for online classes is the lack of resources. I don’t know what the rest of you do when you start to have trouble with the class, but I usually turn to the professor for help.

With an online class, that is less of an option. Of course you can email them, but that is hardly the same as having a face-to-face discussion where the teacher explains something to you. Simply reading the teacher’s explanation on the page doesn’t work well for some situations.

Luckily, many teachers who teach online also have in-person classes which mean they have office hours. If you are on campus you can look up their office times and still go talk to them about the problem you are having.

A final point against online classes is the fact that you have to pay more for them. Although UW-River Falls already operates D2L, where most online classes take place and saves electricity on a room, online classes get an extra fee attached to them. It isn’t too large of a fee but it is still something to be aware of, especially if you are considering taking an online class in J-Term or summertime.

Online classes have a lot of bonuses, giving you more freedom than a regular class does; however, they also come with some negatives that need to be considered before one signs up for them.

Know what you can handle and what you need to keep yourself on track. You’ll be fine. If nothing else, you can enjoy the freedom an online class can offer and learn more about yourself in the process.

Rachel Molitor is a student at UW-River Falls.