Education - Page 8 - Ask Margit, from page 1

- Page 8
Ask Margit, from page 1
teammates is often difficult.

But the main difference is community. No matter how well everything works online, you don’t always feel the same connection with your fellow students that occurs in a classroom, where discussions aremore robust,more lively,with lots more give and take. If you’re shy, someone who doesn’t willingly speak up, in a classroomyou can let those more gregarious individuals take center stage. But, with online classes, you cannot be passive and hide behind those who love to speak up. Your participation is assessed continually, and it must be constant.

Many online classes use discussion forums, trying to duplicate what happens in a classroom. These can be unwieldy and, depending on how they are structured, you may be dependent on your fellow students to move the conversation forward. If you’re in a group of four to six people and half don’t post comments, you are stuck. Not everyone in the class may be as committed to learning as you are. This can extend to the above-mentioned group project. Again, if each person doesn’t pull her or his weight, your whole team can suffer.

Having taught online for many years, it still amazes me how different each class is, how each one has a personality all its own. Some gel, cheering fellow classmates on, challenging each other to think outside the box, to bring more knowledge to the whole class. Although they never meet, there is a synergy in the effort put forth. In other classes, it seems as if no one has even attempted to fulfill the roles required for the class. The discussion forums are drab, with little effort expended to engage each other and stretch their knowledge, let alone cooperate with fellow students.

Online learning is definitely here to stay. Costs to attend can be lower and colleges and universities can make more money, a desirable outcome for both sides. But quality can vary. And it’s important to look inside yourself to determine if taking classes online makes sense for you personally. Read through the requirements for participation and be honest. Can you contribute and do what is necessary or would you prefer to be in a classroom with a professor challenging you to succeed?

Whatever you choose, go into taking an online class with energy, using all the tools at your disposal to make your experience the best it can be. You’re there to get an education, so, no matter what others do, you do your best. If you do that, you’ll gain the education that will help you get that next job or that degree you’re going for. See you online.