Meghan Harrington Feature/Entertainment Editor
In the past decade, online schooling has become more and more prevalent in American education. As we become a society that’s increasingly more dependent on technology, many colleges and high schools have started offering courses online. Today, many students are enrolled in classes that they can take from the comfort of their own home, and this rise in online education has been beneficial for students for a variety of reasons.
Miriam Hamermesh Feature/Entertainment Editor
In recent years, enrollment in “virtual classrooms” or online courses has exploded. Students of all ages across the country have been registering for classes that are offered as close to them as the nearest computer.
There are many downsides that come with taking online classes. One of the fundamental issues about online classes is that some students elect to take them simply because they have heard that the version of the same class offered at their school is much harder. Online courses should not be offered as a way to bypass the system and avoid a difficult teacher; they should be offered because they are the best way for a student to learn.
Online schooling allows students to work at a pace manageable for them. For many students, the traditional classroom setup prevents them from fully learning the given material because they’re scrambling to get everything done on time. It’s easy to get lost in the jumble of homework and classwork and assessments, and the stress of trying to stay on top of everything can be overwhelming. Online classes, however, allow students time to move at their own speed. They’re able to turn in assignments when they feel they have fully mastered the lesson, and they don’t feel rushed or pressured to turn in an assignment on a specific day.
Online schooling also enables students with busy schedules to learn when it is most convenient for them. Many high school students have extracurricular activities that take up a great deal of time, and it’s not always easy to fit in band rehearsal and lacrosse practice and then study for tomorrow’s calculus test. With online education, students can alter their workload to fit their own schedule. Because there is no set time for class, students can decide to do their work whenever it feels best for them. For example, for students who have a really hard time waking up in the morning and rarely make it on time to first hour, online classes make it possible for them to receive their education at a period later in the day where they feel more alert and productive. The flexibility that comes with online schooling is extremely beneficial for many students because it allows them to set their own schedules.
In a regular classroom, it’s easy to get sidetracked from the work at hand. There’s always a million and one things going on in any given classroom, and students who take classes online are not put in the same situation that classroom students are put in. Taking classes online allows students to learn at their own rate and on at their own time, and it gives them an environment where they can do their best work without the distractions that often come with a traditional classroom.
Furthermore, taking an online class can stimulate bad learning and studying skills. Because there are not many strict due dates for online classes, students might put off all the work they need to do until the end of the semester. In his book “How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens” (Random House), New York Times science reporter Benedict Carey reveals that students learn far more efficiently if they are exposed to the information repeatedly over a long period of time, rather than in a great quantity over a short period of time. If students in online classes put off learning the material, they will end up cramming everything in their head at the end of the semester and will thus not have learned as much as their counterparts in a school classroom.
Additionally, some online class unit tests are taken online, not in a classroom being closely monitored by a teacher. Students are left to their own devices, and are very likely to pick up their notes, their textbook, or even open up a new Google tab. When students take tests for their online courses, their results can have the tendency to be less a reflection of their educational progress and more a reflection of their ability to use the Internet.
While taking online courses can make some students more comfortable about their learning environment, they lose many useful resources available to them in a classroom. By taking an online class, students have less of an opportunity for face-to-face or one-on-one interactions with their teacher, experiences that can be very helpful to struggling students. The resources offered in a physical classroom are irreparably lost when that classroom moves to the Internet.