One of my worries about taking classes online was the quality of education I would be getting. Being in an actual classroom and interacting and discussing topics with other students and your teacher can lend valuable insight to a subject. It can also enable the teacher to bring in knowledge from his or her personal experiences and sources outside of the textbook.
This lack of personalization really worried me and I am sad to announce that I have experienced it and happy to announce that I also haven’t. As I have discovered, some teachers put in about as much effort into online classes as the majority or students and some don’t.
Several days before class started, my psychology teacher e-mailed everyone to let them know she was setting up the online site and how it would work. In fact, she gave us the first week entirely to familiarize ourselves with the site. Since then, she has posted an announcement at the beginning of every week including assignments and she also e-mails us these weekly announcements as well as special announcements, such as when she has completed grading an assignment.
Assignments themselves consist of textbook reading, reaction papers and discussion participation on the forums. The reaction papers, while relevant to the section of the textbook, do not follow it exactly and require a bit more thought. The same can be said for discussion questions which require each student to answer the question and then respond to others’ answers as well. The assignments also include sources and work outside from the textbook to give us a little more variety.
Overall, I have been pleased with this professor. She adds the human touch and I am getting more out of this class than if I were to just read the textbook which is absolutely necessary in my opinion; otherwise, why am I even paying for the class if I can just buy the book?
On the other hand, my accounting class is quite sterile compared to the ‘loving touch’ of my other professor. With only one announcement in over 3 weeks – and that one was after the class began, to boot- it’s increasingly obvious that this professor does not think highly of online education or wish to enhance the information in the book in any way.
The only thing he updates is the assignment list. Assignments are very cut and dry; read a chapter, do the questions and check back next week to see if your answers are correct. Each section has an online quiz and exam which is timed and because assignments are not checker or graded, these are the only scores which count.
In my experience the time alloted for the quizzes and tests is many times the time necessary and provides time for reading the text if you have not already. Combined with ungraded assignments and there is really no reason to do any of the work.
If the tests and quizzes were adequate, this might not be an issue as test grades often make up the bulk of your grade in college courses. Of course, all of the questions were true or false because they were entered into an automated system so there isn’t much room for discussion, argument or even thinking.
As someone who likes a challenging class and strives to feel as though she is actually learning something useful, I am quite disappointed with that class.
Overall, I am both relieved and disappointed with my experiences. While one professor is going beyond the bare minimum and I am getting my money’s worth, the other is barely doing that and I would be much better off if I had simply read the book.
When it comes down to it, quality of education probably has more to do with the teacher than the medium.