November 12th, 2007
Oh, Internet. How I love you. You give me my daily dose of webcomics, Facebook stalking, and, of course, the occasional school work assignment. Internet, I treat you well—I protect my passwords, visit you frequently, and I am even okay with you hanging out with other girls—why, then, oh Internet, do you fail me when I need you most?
If you have read some of my earlier blogs, you may have picked up the fact that I, Erika Schmidt, am a procrastinator. Well, it’s true, and I admit it freely. This is not to say, however, that I am either proud or happy with myself about this particular trait. This apparent failure to plan ahead combined with my less than perfect Internet connection has, for the first time, caused me to turn in a college assignment late. (Gasp!)
Students our age rely on the Internet for everything these days, but how has the Internet affected the learning process? Lectures and notes, homework assignments and reviews, grades, email—is the technology used in college academia causing traditional teaching to become obsolete? When students can see a professor gesturing about a particular theorem in a math class, or explain in detail about a management process, is anything being missed from the classroom experience? In my opinion, Internet classes, despite all these amazing tools that the Internet has given the academic world, just don’t make the cut in the scheme of learning.
With online classes, I feel that students miss out on the most vital process of learning—questioning and discussing. There have been all kinds of ways that profs have tried to implement this into online curriculum—graded discussion questions, log sheets, peer emails—but none of them match the enthusiasm that can be created in a classroom about a topic when students build on each other’s questions. Not only that, but students gain valuable insights from hearing questions phrased from their peers; it gives us perspective, not only about whether we understand the material as much as our peers, but also about things we may not have thought to ask.
I signed up for an online class this semester thinking it would save me time and would be an easy way to increase my overall GPA—way off base. Online classes require just as much work and sometimes more than your traditional classroom lectures due to confusing material that you have to teach yourself. I have spent more time on my online class than two of my other classes, not for this reason, but just because it is harder for me to put the dedicated three hours a week into the class than I would a regular class.
Moral of the story is this: if you are a person who is incredibly structured and organized with your time, prefers minimum contact with peers and professors, and likes to process things independently, then online classes are for you. As for me, I’m going to keep procrastinating until the end of the semester—then no more online classes for me.