I had heard a lot about online classes before I decided to take one. I heard that online classes were “easy” and “fun.” I heard they were “go at your own pace” and “flexible.” But I will tell you now, I have not experienced any of those things whilst taking the course. At Ursuline, in particular, online classes are run through an ‘online school’ of sorts.
The online school does not really offer a self-paced way of learning. Each chapter is broken up week by week in which there are strict deadlines on Tuesday and Friday. Although the deadlines help make sure that you are doing your work, they do not require you to fully understand the material before finishing the classwork for the week.
The labs and discussion questions make you think, but the material is not pertinent to the classwork. It is distressing to not understand the material because when the test rolls around it is very difficult to memorize all the information. It is nice that you can choose when you want to take your test, but it is frustrating that during the week of the test, you still have to do classwork for another chapter.
Although people told me before I took the class that online class was the “easier route,” I, and other classmates, have not found that to be true. The material, especially an AP class, is much more difficult to comprehend without having a teacher that is easy to reach.
Even though you can text, email, or facetime your online teacher, it is very difficult to find a time that works for both you and him/her. “Time Zones create a real problem when trying to reach teachers and classmates.” Katie Smithson ’18 stated about online classes.
Group work is another issue that arises once you start the class. Normal group work in a normal classroom setting is rather unpleasant to begin with because it can be very difficult to get everyone on the same page. But in an online class, this issue escalates enormously. Madison Wilson ‘18 said, “There is a lot more group work than I anticipated. It can be very difficult.”
Trying to work around different time zones, people’s own schedules and other work from the class makes group work nearly impossible. Within the short couple months that I have been taking an online class, I have done three projects. Coordinating which partner will do which part is very time consuming and complicated. Having no group projects would make the class easier; but if someone enjoyed meeting new people, it could be a great way to connect with someone different and new.
All in all, the online classes can be a good choice for people who like a little more freedom. But, I believe it is not a good option for people who need structure and want a consistent connection with their teachers. The AP will cause you a lot of stress because of the workload, but a real face-to-face class may do the same thing. The time commitment is massive as there are discussion boards, labs, projects, and assessments every week. Not all of the material from a chapter is pertinent to the classwork, but it is necessary to do the work because it is all graded.
Some classes may be easier to manage. Some of the online classes that Ursuline offers are great because the topic is very specific. The online Marine Biology class may be a very different outcome compared to an online AP class.
Online classes are stressful and there is not a lot of ways to prepare for the teaching
method. But the reality is it is a good way to teach people how to study for college. Not having a teacher constantly reminding students of what is due and when can provide good motivation to get a consistent study pattern. It is all about someone’s individual learning style, so make sure to the really think about how an online class will affect you before you sign up.