Education - Page 1 - Ask Margit

- Page 1
Ask Margit
By Margit B. Weisgal, Contributing Writer

Online vs. offline. What classes should you choose?

As of 2016, well over six million students were registered for distance learning – online classes – a majority of whom are not local, and that number keeps growing. There is also an increase in the number of classes offered, seemingly because of demand. That said, is taking an online class the right decision for you?

Students who sign up to study online have myriad reasons. For many, the primary attraction is flexibility. You can log onto your school’s website any time of the day or night, so if you work full-time or have family responsibilities, these classes provide a way to maintain control over your time constraints.

Other good reasons present themselves, such as the ability to pace yourself, the opportunity to do some self-directed learning that expands what is presented, and, one hopes, the same sense of community one gets in a face-to-face class. Since a majority of today’s students have grown up with technology, they are comfortable dealing with the platforms on which they learn, the online learning management systems (LMS).

When you take an online course, you have access to materials the professor has uploaded to your class website, which can include video lectures, external materials such as videos, articles and infographics, and links to information from a variety of sources. Even the textbook publishers are helping out by creating more ways to employ the texts, adding quizzes, exams, writing assignments, their own discussion boards, and, of course, better ways to read and understand the knowledge contained in the book. A well-designed online class should feel natural, with information you, the student, finds interesting and ramps up your interest, aspires you to keep going forward. This only scratches the surface.

But there’s an equal number of reasons not to take an online class. You – and you alone – are completely responsible for knowing what is required for the class and, then, pacing yourself so it’s done on time. If you’re not self-motivated, able to structure your time and force yourself do the work, you can fail. Also ask yourself if your technical skills are sufficient for the class and is your internet access fast enough. Communication with professors is questionable. Because you interact using a messaging system on the LMS or via email, questions aren’t answered in a timely fashion. There are also no “office hours” when you know he or she is available. And if you’re required to do any type of group project, getting in touch with your

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